1. Eat Better

After the holidays where festivities revolve around eating, many of us embark on a diet come the New Year.  Instead of restricting your food intake or starting a diet you can’t maintain, try making healthier choices that are sustainable for the whole year.

Go Paleo:  The Paleo Diet is less a diet than it is a lifestyle overhaul.  Based on eating habits in the caveman era, this diet is rich in healthy protein sources, good fats, fruits and vegetables, and low in dairy products, starches and sugars.  All grains, sugars/sweeteners, and carbohydrate-rich foods are avoided, as the simple equation is that too much sugar gets converted to stored fat.  The Paleo Diet does not encourage calorie counting or portion control, just eating healthy whole foods and cutting out the junk!  There are lots of great books and websites on Paleo, but here is a quick guide to get your started.

Or, try these 2 great recipes:  Healthy, delicious, and seasonal!

Sauteed beluga lentils + butternut squash

Black kale, apple and brussels sprout slaw

Get Motivated: Check out Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a documentary about a man who changes his health and life by doing a 60 day juice fast.

2.  Drink Better

Follow these simple rules for getting enough fluids, and the right type:

For everyone:  8 cups of water/2L of water per day!  Drink your water as is, as herbal tea, or mixed with a greens/berries powder for added nutrition.

For exercise:  2 cups at least 30 minutes prior to exercising, and 1 cup for every 15 minutes of exercise.  Your body needs water to stay hydrated and to facilitate detox.  For strenuous exercise where fluids are lost via sweat, combine your water with electrolyte powder to replenish minerals lost via sweating.  Poor electrolyte balance can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps and twitching, heart palpitations, dizziness or nausea.

For weight loss: Switch your caffeine intake to green tea!  Green tea causes your body to produce adiponectin, a protein that prevents insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.  Green tea has also been shown to prevent accumulation of fat in fat cells, halt growth of baby fat cells into mature ones, and turn on genes that cause fat calories to be burnt as heat.

Coffee, alcohol and pop:  For starters, limit anything that is chock full of calories (sugary drinks), or devoid of nutrients (pop)!  For every glass of a diuretic you have (such as wine, coffee, cola, etc), drink one extra glass of water.  Diuretics cause fluid to be lost via the kidneys, so correcting this water loss is very important for preventing fatigue, hunger, spaciness, or hangover!

3.  Get Moving

Do something every day that gets you moving wether it be low intensity such as walking, stretching or yin yoga, or high intensity such as hiking, skiing or lifting weights.

Use an App:  My favourite fitness app is Nike Training Club, a great workout app devised for women.  This app guides you through all levels of circuit workouts that can even be done at home with very little equipment.  NTC provides video and a verbal explanation of each exercise so you can follow along.

Get a pedometer:  A pedometer measures how many steps you take per day which is awesome if you take a lot of steps, but also draws your attention to when you’ve had a sedentary day.  A pedometer is worn on the belt, and calculates the number of steps you take and the total distance you have walked/run via movement of your hips.  Pedometers are also available as apps.  10,000 steps per day for a total of 8km distance is recommended as a goal.

Or, get a Fuel Band: Another great tool by Nike is the Nike+ Fuel Band which is a wrist band that tracks your activity level, number of steps taken, and number of calories burned.  The Nike+ Fuel Band uses an accelerometer to track the intensity of your activity level which a pedometer does not generally do.  The Fuel Band can be used with the Nike+ Fuel Band app to track your progress and stay motivated!

4.  Sweat Every Day

Sweating is a vital form of detoxification that flushes the body of a build-up of unwanted metabolic byproducts.  Detoxification can increase your energy levels if you are feeling sluggish after the holiday season.

Infrared Sauna: Infrared waves penetrate the body up to 6 inches allowing for a deeper detoxification to occur.  In contrast to a non-infrared sauna, the infrared waves affect deeper muscles, organs and the lymphatic system.  Perspiration induced via infrared heat clears the body of metabolic toxins such as excess sodium and chlorine, urea, nitrogenous waste, and uric acid.  The infrared sauna increases blood vessel dilation and raises the metabolic rate, allowing you to burn upwards of 600 Calories in a 30 minute session!  Make sure you hydrate before and after with electrolytes or coconut water, and skip the sauna if you are pregnant or feeling lightheaded.

Exercise:  Any form of exercise that induces sweating can aid in body detoxification.  Hot yoga, a form of yoga performed in room heated to 40 Celsius, is a slow sequence of postures designed to get you sweating, increase circulation and lymphatic flow, and purge your organs and joints of toxic buildup.  Hydrating before and after with electrolytes or coconut water is vital, and hot yoga is not recommended for those who are pregnant.

5.  De-Stress!

It is said over and over, but reducing stress is so vital for health and mental wellbeing.  Stress can create and worsen many physical ailments, as the mind and emotions are so intimately connected to how we feel about our bodies.  Stress is an inevitable part of life, but how you manage it will determine whether you are able to think positively and overcome it, or whether it will take its toll on your physical and mental health.

This year, find something that you love to do that lets you put your stressors on the back burner.

Get on a happiness kick! Have you read Gretchen Rubin’s awesome happiness books yet?  Check out The Happiness Project and its sequel, Happier At Home for good tips and interesting stats on how to bring more happiness into your life.  Also, watch the documentary happy, a movie about what happiness means, and how we can achieve it.

Laugh more:  Try going to a comedy night or a laughter yoga class.  Spend more time with friends, and smile more!

Find your happy place:  Think about where you are most happy, and get there.  It could be by the ocean or in the forest.  Maybe you are happier when you spend more time with your family or at a yoga studio.  Wherever it is, make it a priority.

Do a technology detox:  Technology places so much stress and pressure on us as we are forced to stay in contact with many people and bring our work home with us.  Avoid the TV and put away the computer, email, and cellphones in the evenings.

Start a new project:  Learn a new skill like cooking, woodworking or canning.  Take guitar lessons or do a 30day challenge (30 days of yoga, 30 days of green smoothies, 30 days of letter writing…)

Get active, play more, ride your bike, get more sleep, say “Yes!” more!  Make 2013 a great year where you choose to put happiness first!