When it comes to having a healthy year, better beats perfect. Infact perfection can be the curse of many a new years resolution. Instead of aiming to be the cleanest, greenest, training machine, just follow my motto of better beats perfect. If you’re that little bit better than yesterday, imagine where your health will be a year from now! With that in mind, use this acronym for a framework to help you be that little bit healthier.
Take your ‘MEDS’
M is for Mindfulness: This is about adopting practises that help you manage stress levels and promote positive mental health. Think meditation, deep breathing and spiritual practices.
E is for exercise: Recommendations are 150minutes per week of moderate to intense activity.
D is for Diet: Adopting a whole food, predominantly plant based diet that is eaten in a social, enjoyable way, and drinking plenty of water.
S is for sleep: Creating habits that promote the best sleep you can get.
Ten Tips for Taking your MEDS
Deep breathing before bed: If you’ve never meditated before, a great precursor in deep breathing. It’s one of the fastest ways to bring your parasympathetic nervous system out of the red (stressed) and into the blue (calm). Just before going to sleep, lying on your back, with one hand on your stomach take five super slow deep breaths. Breathe as deeply as you can in for around 6 counts and out, expelling all your air for around 6 counts. This will also help you sleep more deeply.
Ten minute guided meditation: For most of us the thought of sitting still for an hour in meditation sounds painful, but ten minutes three times per week may be more achievable. Try downloading the Calm app or Headspace and following a guided meditation. For a free version try Meditation Oasis.
Convenient and time efficient: These are the two factors that make or break a regular exercise routine. There’s no point joining the highest tech gym if it takes you 30min to drive there and classes don’t fit your schedule. Instead focus on activities you enjoy, close to home (or in your home!) that are high intensity enough you don’t need hours to train. It’s a bonus if you can get out in nature as well.
Try a challenge: Whether it’s an online challenge, a bet with a friend or a badge to win on your smart watch, attaching your workout to a challenge or goal will drive that motivation, consistency and therefore results.
Focus on joint mobility: One of the things that ages us physically is the reduction in the mobility of our joints as we age. Maybe you used to be able to touch your toes, but now you can’t. The great news is simple stretching, yoga and joint mobility exercises can reverse this and have your joints stronger, and more supple no matter how old you’re getting!
Make vegetables the meal hero: When deciding what to have for dinner we usually build the meal around the meat. Try changing this and making the vegetable the her. For example roasted cauliflower with delicious toppings, a small serve of meat on the side and another vegetables to complement it.
Supercharge your meals: Ask yourself is there anything I can add to amp up the nutrient content of my meal. It could be a sprinkle of hemps seeds (packed with Omega-3s) or a supplement like EMPOWdER fermented mushrooms (packed with Beta Glucans, and antioxidants). A small addition can supercharge your meal!
Reduce plastics in your life: Micro plastics can end up in our body, stored in places such as our endocrine system and fat cells. These are known as EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) and have been linked to diseases such as hypothyroidism. Avoid eating/drinking from plastic containers, and beware hidden traps such as tea bags!
Hot shower before bed: The body loves to go to sleep on a falling temperature. It triggers deeper and longer non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, the deepest stage of the sleep cycle that makes you feel most refreshed. A quick way to do this is to have a hot shower right before bed. Of course you don’t want to disrupt sleep by over heating, however if you raise your core temp just a little, it will trigger a faster drop, resulting in better NREM sleep.
Low light an hour before bed: Whether its coming from screens, artificial light or natural light, the lowering of lights is a trigger to the brain to adjust circadian rhythms in preparation for sleep. Many devices now have a yellow/low light option but ideally put the screens away an hour before bed.
Amelia Phillips is a nutritionist, exercise scientist and online health coach who has helped thousands live a healthier life through optimised nutrition and targeted supplementation.