Okay, the year has ended (and what a tough one it has been), and we indulged through the holiday season. Hey – we’re only human! But now we’re in the new year, and if you haven’t at least thought about what to do better for the coming year, you might be in the minority…lol. It’s time for New Year’s resolutions…hopefully ones we can actually keep.
If you’ve thought about changing your lifestyle habits to healthier ones, then you’ll need to learn how to get through the first 30 days, as implementing new habits can be challenging! You may need to know what to do differently, and what to expect while you’re implementing these changes.
First, you might consider getting rid of unhealthy food from your pantry and fridge. This means items with lots of table sugar or even unhealthy sweeteners (think pink, blue, and yellow). If you have wheat – especially the white flour kind – think about ditching that as well. Instead start filling your house with health-giving produce – mostly vegetables, mostly non-starchy (a little starch goes a long way for many of us and they can promote inflammation), and a little bit of fruit (remember fruits have sugar in them, so especially watch higher sugar fruits like cherries and grapes). Also getting rid of soda – with and without sugar – is a really great idea. Anything that is promoted as food but is full of chemicals, please consider giving it up.
Research various healthy dietary approaches and see which one(s) seem to best fit your body. Do you know already that excessive carbs make you feel poorly? Then you might want to consider a lower carb approach. Does eating meat make you feel poorly? Then you might want to consider a vegan lifestyle (without “crap” carbs please). Remember – there are many approaches which are scientifically based so your challenge is to find what best suits you and your body (and lifestyle). It is a great idea to work with a professional.
Please understand that when making dietary changes, you may feel some withdrawal effects as if you were detoxing from drugs. These can be in the form of headaches, sadness, feeling tired, having cravings, etc. However, the good news is that this stops within a few days to a week – usually. Consider taking a few vitamins to bolster your health. Niacin, vitamin B3, has been known to ease withdrawal, although it causes a temporary flush!
You may have children who want to continue with the junk food but remember that eating healthy is not only good for you but also will enhance their health and development.
It goes without saying that habits like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcoholic beverages to excess, or taking recreational, illegal drugs is a bad idea, so this is a good time to tackle those habits as well. Drinking excessive amounts of coffee may also be a bad idea, even if it sounds like a good habit. Many people are sensitive to caffeine, so you may want to avoid this all together.
Moving your body a bit more is always a good idea. If you like exercising, perhaps you can join a gym. But you can also dance, go bike riding, walk, roller skate, or any other activity that brings you pleasure. Remember – it’s a great deal more fun when you’re doing something you like.
For some people taking this a little at a time may be a better approach. However, if you’re an “all or nothing” type, just jump in. Remember you may feel overwhelmed so be sure you have a support system handy in times of need. And if you fall off the wagon, just get yourself back on track – no shame, no blame.
Mindfulness is another helpful change to make. It centers you; it helps you focus. That way, you are better able to enjoy your life and see what changes might be beneficial. This helps you practice better time management, which should lessen your negative stress load. Start with one thing – perhaps it is a meditation using a free app or diffusing essential oils while resting. Perhaps it is taking a yoga class. Regardless, try something and eventually make these practices a part of everyday. Imagine taking 5-15 minutes of “me” time every day – it can make a huge difference in your mood and that will also positively impact your family, friends, coworkers, etc.
Okay, now you’ve gotten through the first 30 days. They have probably been a little (or a lot) difficult. Withdrawal has stopped. But you’re determined to go on. So, keep practicing what you have been doing the previous 30 days. It should get easier over time. You might already find yourself no longer wanting the junk food; if you indulge, your body might start fussing at you! You might also find that you start desiring healthier foods, and your “me” time. (Remember always to procure great tasting and usually free recipes using healthy foods). Maybe you notice that you lost a few unwanted pounds. Maybe you noticed that you have more energy in general. Take note of these small but positive changes. Guess what? Many small things always add up to big ones. Make sure you celebrate all your accomplishments and don’t focus on the mistakes you think you made. Just keep moving forward, one step at a time.
As always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.