Health Habits: Set Goals And Start Now

Dr. Purushothaman
January 10, 2014


Plan Your Revitalization, Then Work Your Plan For Results
You're feeling a little bloated after the holiday festivities? In most of our societies, that's pretty normal this time of year. No need to panic... but you do need to re-establish some discipline in your daily health habits. The key is to set good goals for your own actions and behaviors, and then start immediately.
The most important daily health habits are the ones I refer to as "The NEWSS:" Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sleep, and Supplements. It would be hard to go from basic inattentiveness to perfect discipline in any of these habits overnight. So don't try. Instead, try to set a reasonable goal that improves each of those habits in your current daily routine.
Nutrition - if your diet is horrible right now, it could be that such a simple goal as to cut out processed sugars completely would be a good start. In fact, I'd start with that one if you haven't already done it. If that seems like too much of a reach, try this: count up the bad processed foods you eat on a regular basis, and single out your three "favorites" - the ones you find hardest to resist but are doing the most damage to your body. Then decide to cut one of the three completely out of your diet, severely limit the second, and cut the third about in half. Soon you'll find you can adjust your goals to remove more and more of the bad stuff from your nutritional routine. Meanwhile, don't forget some positive food goals, too - make yourself eat a certain quota of fresh fruit and vegetables, for instance.
Exercise - again, start slow. If you're extremely out-of-shape, depending on your age and general health, a regimen of walking might be the best you can manage for now. I have a friend who, with two bad knees, can't even do that; her plan is to "dive in" to water aerobics to get the blood flowing again. Once you've become fairly consistent, and your exercise becomes easier, challenge yourself. Set your goal higher. If you're walking, could you jog a bit? If you're jogging slowly, can you go a little faster, or a little longer on the trail or the treadmill? Keep gradually stepping up your goals, and by the time winter turns to spring you'll be amazed at what you can do.
Water - this is one of the easiest ones, and it works well with the other habits. You need to make sure you drink at least two liters of water a day (more than three liters, depending upon your size, probably doesn't help, and may even harm your progress). So get a half-liter water bottle, and make sure you fill and drain it at least four times a day. I find it easy to drain a bottle of water with breakfast, with lunch, with my afternoon snack, and with dinner. Another during and after exercise is also an easy and healthy habit to get into. And while we're on the subject of drinking, set some negative goals in this area, too - how much alcohol and caffeine can you cut out?
Sleep - sure, you are Super Woman, but you really need more sleep than you're getting, especially if you are carrying too much weight. Sleep helps your body recharge, and helps release chemicals that aid a number of your body's processes. Too much stress (often occasioned by lack of sleep) can actually make you fat. Many of my clients are business owners, and they sometimes report that the freedom they have in choosing their hours has to be balanced by the push to drive the business; everyone in our modern culture, though, can be challenged to stick to a strong sleep habit. Usually all it takes is to pay attention to how much sleep you're getting, and to adjust as needed. Shoot for eight hours, and reward yourself each night you achieve that. By the way, the more you stick to good discipline in the other four NEWSS habits, the easier it will be for you to get enough restful sleep.
Supplements - don't count on the food you get in western cultures these days to adequately fuel your body. You need at least one good multi-purpose supplement, such as the liquid nutraceutical I use (it's formulated to be easily absorbed by your body's cells). So start with that, or something like it, and make sure you get your appropriate dosage every day. Once that becomes easy, the next step in the progression of your goals might be to add some additional supplements. If I had to pick a half-dozen other supplements, they'd probably include Coenzyme Q-10, Omega-3 oils, fiber/cleansing supplements, an anti-oxidant cocktail such as the popular quercetin-bromelain-vitamin C mixture, a brain aid such as gingko biloba, and an herbal sleep aid containing Valerian and/or St. John's Wort.
Once you've set your goals, do yourself a favor and start measuring your progress. Keep a journal, and try each week to hit at least 80% of your goal on each of the five habits. And don't forget to keep adjusting your goals periodically, to keep yourself challenged and to maximize your march toward vitality.
The holidays are over, but don't be bummed. It's the time of year for renewal, and your efforts will be rewarded with increased vitality. You'll be healthier in a few weeks, you'll feel better, and you'll have a happier outlook on life.

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