Hands up who always starts the year with the intention of setting goals for their health, whether it's about losing weight, a detox after an indulgent Christmas and New Year, vow only to have salads or commit an unrealistic number of times at the gym? We’ve all been there.
There is no harm in wanting to refocus and wanting to set goals for a healthy diet and lifestyle in the new year, but most of us tend to set really big goals that aren’t sustainable and achievable.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” ― Bill Gates
Instead, could you embrace the idea of taking small imperfect and consistent actions that will get you much further in the course of the year than intensely doing too much in one month then absolutely nothing for the rest of the year. Just taking these small actions often result in more. That 1% daily adds up to a 365% change over a year right!
These small imperfect and consistent actions are what I like to call healthy habits, where you get back to basics and get that down pat first to achieve true wellness, longevity and vitality. These basics, like drinking water, sleeping enough hours, eating wholefoods are all things we know we need to do, but sometimes do not do them consistently instead preferring to reach for the shiny wellness gadgets that we think will help us get to our health and wellness goals quicker.
You see, often what you think is the easiest thing to do is also the easiest thing not to do.
So if you need to get back to basics, what do you need to look at?
The foundations of wellness
From here, building small healthy habits in each foundation that is stackable against something you are already doing in your day makes these habits much more achievable and sustainable. Here are my top six healthy habits to set yourself up for success right from the start of this journey that are impactful, easy, simple and fun!
Drink a glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
60% of the human body is made up of water. Properly hydrating ourselves upon waking is so important, as our body and organs have been 'dry' for the 6-8 hours during our sleep, and your body and digestive system requires some priming before we go into 'drive' for the day. Also, when you sleep, your body is busy cleaning up, regenerating, recharging and removing waste. Drinking a glass of lemon water within 10minutes of waking will help detox your body and assist in the removal of waste products from the liver.
Move your body
Wake your body up by stretching or moving in a way that works for you after hydrating your body. This will boost your energy as well as improve your mood and focus for the day. Have you observed what your dog or cat does when they wake from their naps? STRETCH!
Add more veggies
Eat one more cup of veggies at each meal, including breakfast to support a healthy gut microbiome. The main purpose is simply to help you to get more vegetables, while making them delicious and enticing. Most people these days do not eat enough vegetables. There is often a reliance on starchy fillers such as rice, potato, pasta and bread along with over-consumption of animal proteins. This reliance on starches and proteins can result in gut dysbiosis. And we know the fibres and phytonutrient in vegetables help function as an intestinal broom supporting healthy bowel habits and elimination.
Take 6 deep belly breaths
6 long, slow, deep belly breaths to calm your mind and body and oxygenate your cells. This ancient practice is one of the simplest ways to reduce stress, increase alertness, and boost your immune system function. When stressed, we tend to breathe from our chest area which in fact adds to the stress cycle. Breathing from your belly, instead of your chest, will help you to de-stress whilst charging your vagus nerve and supercharging your brain energy.
START by placing your hands on your belly and breathing in through your nose for a count of 5, holding for 5, then breathe out through your mouth for a count of 5. Repeat 6 times at the start of your day to set your day up well!
Start EVERY day with gratitude as it powerhouses your body and your mind.Putting yourself and your body in a state of gratitude first thing in the morning allows you to face each and everyday as the best version of yourself and it enables you to see all the incredible opportunities. Studies have found that those who habitually focus on, and appreciate the positive aspects of life through a gratitude practice experience greater levels of happiness and well-being. The benefits range from improved moods, stronger relationships, better health outcomes, and overall happiness.
Establish a nightly routine
Develop a good night time routine and avoid over stimulating your brain to signal your bodies and brain to prepare for sleep. Focus on spending a block of time doing something that relaxes you. Some options to try include no work at least an hour before, meditation, journaling, reading, listening to calm music, gargling, breathing exercises like the deep belly breathing above.
What's one small basic thing you can start doing today to improve your health and wellness?
Written by SBE Alumna, Karen Ai Lynn Tan
Karen is the founder of The Wellness Keeper, which helps organisations and individuals elevate their wellness to a new state of excellence and bring a fresh perspective to a future of unlimited growth and innovation.
Through her work as an integrative wellness coach, she has coached and worked with over 100 business owners and executives to help them make wellness an everyday priority, build and maximise their physical, mental, emotional, and inner self wellbeing for life and work, creating happy healthy resilient individuals and organisations through evidence-based bio and eco hacks, strategies, and habits. More at: www.thewellnesskeeper.com