Monday, December 28, 2015

Health Goals are Better Than Resolutions

This is the time of year when people are seeing the effects of their holiday indulgences and determining to do something about it.  With the New Year come resolutions to lose weight, join a gym, get fit, etc.  The intent is generally good, but the follow-through is generally lacking.  Gyms report the highest number of new enrollments in January, along with peak usage, which generally tapers off within a few short weeks.

Resolutions are generally grand ideas that we intend to power through on the force of our own resolve. They rarely are accompanied by a specific and realistic plan of action.  Setting goals properly allows us to have measurable, attainable steps along the way to the "big idea."
For example, if the resolution is to "get in shape," what does that mean?  Typically it means you join a gym, hit it hard, suffer through the pain of over-using muscles that have been inactive for too long, and often give up.  In contrast, one can begin by taking a stretching class, which is a gentle way to activate those muscles.  Click here to learn more about the stretch class being offered in our office throughout January.

Resistance can be added to the routine, using your own body weight with traditional exercises like pushups and squats, or in smaller amounts, with resistance bands or light weights.  As your body adjusts to the new demands, you can increase your exercise routine until you are able to handle a more demanding workout.  This mini-goal approach makes it less likely that you will get frustrated and give up, or even worse, injure yourself and be forced to give up.  AS you meet your small goals, you are encouraged to work toward the next one.

The same thing goes for diet and nutrition goals.  If your diet has consisted of bacon and sugar cookies for the past six weeks, you may be disgusted with yourself for your lack of self-control and what it has done to your body, but going on a liquid fast or other crash diet will probably result in gastro-intestinal upset and do nothing to teach you healthier habits for the long run.

Instead, you may wish to try a stepped approach, similar to what we've suggested for your exercise routine. Start by eliminating refined sugar from your diet.  In a week or two, your palate will reset to appreciate the natural sweetness of foods and the cravings will be gone. 

Look at the fats you consume.  Reducing fats from conventionally raised animal products is a good step, as is eliminating all hydrogenated fats.  But not all fats are your enemy.  Avocado, coconut and olives are high-fat foods containing oils that are beneficial to our bodies.  Free-range organic egg yolks do contain cholesterol, but are also one of the few natural sources of highly absorbable vitamin D, which is essential during the winter months when you might not be absorbing much sunlight, which enables your body to produce its own.

Eat more beans, including lentils and chick peas to get plenty of protein and fiber, allowing you to reduce your dependence on meat and dairy products.  If you like Mexican food, think about your favorite dishes that use lots of beans and avocados, with small amounts of meat and cheese for flavor, texture and protein.

Pay attention to your carbohydrate intake.  Reduce the amount of grains you consume (because they contribute to inflammation), and choose whole grains over processed.  Choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes, and if you do eat white potatoes, eat the skin too, for its fiber content.
Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits to add vitamins, minerals and fiber.  They will make you feel more full on fewer calories.  If you've gotten this far in the program and are still not losing weight, you need to consider your portion sizes.  How full is your plate, and do you habitually go for seconds?

Other ways to support your fitness goals include the use of appropriate herbs and nutritional supplements.  We can advise you on those which would be most useful to your unique health situation.  And regular chiropractic adjustments can help prevent injury as you begin your journey toward fitness.  Bon voyage, and a happy, healthy New Year!

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