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Seven Simple Habits to Improve your Health in the New Year

About one in three Americans resolve to change an unhealthy trait every January.  Studies show that while 75% of Americans stick to their resolution for about a week, less than half remained on track six months later. One of the biggest problems with keeping resolutions in the New Year is focusing on your results rather than the processes required to achieve these results. For example, instead of making the resolution, “I want to lose 25 pounds”, I suggest you focus on the process.  Focusing on the activities you can do to help you improve your health is more realistic thus you are more likely to achieve your goals. Here are seven simple, easy resolutions that will greatly improve your life and should be implemented right away.

“I resolve to go to bed by 11pm every night”

Proper sleep habits are vital to your health.  Your body requires a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. You need enough sleep to provide the necessary time for your body to fulfill processes of regeneration and repair crucial to fuel your brain and other vital organs for optimal performance. Some of you may think, well I can go to sleep at 3am and wake up at 11am; those 8 hours of sleep are the same, right? NO! This unnatural sleep pattern will adversely affect your Circadian Rhythm. Your Circadian Rhythm (aka your biological clock) is controlled by the hypothalamic region of your brain. Your hypothalamus uses environmental cues to reset your internal clock each day within minutes of the Earth’s 24-hour rotation cycle. Your body’s Circadian Rhythm regulates vital bodily functions such as feeding patterns, alertness, body temperature, hormone production, brain wave activity, cell regeneration, blood sugar regulation and many other important physiologic functions. Consequently, unnatural sleep habits can literally destroy your health, leading to a multitude of problems including weight gain, premature aging and increased propensity to develop diseases like cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes. 

“I resolve to sleep in a darkened room” 

If you sleep with the lights on, or with the TV on, or with light leaking into your bedroom, you will severely impair your quality of sleep. Your hypothalamus produces a hormone named melatonin, which helps you achieve states of deep, regenerative sleep. Unfortunately, even small amounts of light exposure while sleeping can severely diminish your melatonin levels. Therefore, you must sleep in the dark (pitch black is best). At the very least, use a mask to cover your eyes if achieving pitch black is problematic. 

“I resolve to spend 30 minutes outside every day”

As just mentioned, your biological clock is vital to your health and the rhythm of your life. Your hypothalamus requires signals of light and darkness to create a healthy rhythm. Sunlight exposure during the early part of the day (before 1 PM) can yield enormous benefits. Even if you spend just 30 – 60 minutes outside during your lunch break, you will receive many of the benefits sunlight has to offer.  Full spectrum, natural light during the day helps improve all of your hypothalamic functions leading to improvements in your sleep quality (by improving nighttime melatonin levels), your hormone balance, your immune system and can help facilitate normalization of your weight. 

“I resolve to not consume sweets except on special occasions”

Sugar is a dangerous, addictive substance consumed by the majority of people in the United States on a regular basis. There have been numerous documented studies proving that sugar is more addictive than cocaine or heroin. Sugar consumption is the leading cause of chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, obesity, autoimmune disease and cancer. Stop consuming sugar! If you crave sugar, then you are addicted to it. By the way, if you think that you can consume sugar, then just “burn off the extra calories” by doing more exercise, you are deluding yourself. Excess caloric intake followed by excessive physical activity leads to excessive “wear and tear” on your body. 

“I resolve to ONLY drink water”

One of the biggest sources of empty calories and poisonous, addictive sugar are sweet beverages. Natural, healthy spring water is the only beverage that you should be drinking to quench your thirst and hydrate your body. Juices and soda contain sickening quantities of sugar. Additionally, sugar-free beverages are also toxic, filled with chemicals such as aspartame and Sucralose both of which are neurotoxic agents. If you ingest these sweet poisons, you will accelerate your rate of aging and your chances of developing health destroying disease processes. Instead, resolve to drink only water.  Water makes up 75% of your body weight and is one of the most important ingredients to the health of your body.

“I resolve to eat plenty of healthy fats with every meal”

There is much controversy in popular news sources regarding what constitutes a healthy diet, especially when it comes to fat intake. Unfortunately, the majority of doctors, dieticians, nutritionists and other health professionals still maintain that low fat diets are “heart healthy” and reduce your chances of heart disease. There is also much confusion regarding “good” fats verses “bad” fats. The truth is that saturated fat and cholesterol is good for you. In fact, consuming adequate amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol will increase your HDL (the “good” cholesterol), stabilize your blood sugar, keep you from getting hungry, protect your cells from injury, and serve as a building block for vitamin D, your sex hormones and your adrenal cortical hormones. You need to ensure that you are choosing good sources of fat such as organic, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, wild caught fish, organic free-range eggs, and organic cheese. You must also make sure that you do not fry or overcook these delicate fat sources.  Overcooked meat is carcinogenic, mostly bereft of nutritional value and can increase your oxidative stress. Make sure to have a serving of either meat or fish or poultry or eggs or cheese at every meal 

“I resolve to eat no more than three times each day”

Snacking between meals is terrible for your health and your waistline. The notion that frequent, small meals will “boost your metabolism” is nonsense. The truth is – every time you eat, your pancreas secretes insulin. You cannot burn fat if your insulin levels are too high, you can only store fat. Therefore, frequent snacking will turn you into a “fat storing machine”. Adequate consumption of healthy fats at every meal will stabilize your blood sugar, suppress your appetite, keep you from getting hungry between meals, lower your insulin levels and ultimately help you to lose weight. 

Well, there you have it, a relatively easy, seven-point plan for vastly improving your health in the New Year. Start incorporating these suggestions into your daily life and you will quickly notice improvements in how you feel and how you look. Stay focused on the process needed to achieve your goals. Try not to focus too much on your results.  The point of resolutions is to overcome unhealthy or undesirable habits you are currently doing today.  Your overall goal is to become healthier and adopt better behaviors. With these seven habits of healthy people I am not suggesting that you to climb Mt. Everest. These seven habits are very easily obtainable objectives that in turn you can help you achieve your original endpoint of losing 25 pounds. Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Come in for a consultation with Dr. Rothman by calling (732) 268-7663 and begin living a life of metabolically directed wellness today!

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To learn more about Michael Rothman MD contact us today by giving us a call at (732) 268-7663, emailing us at [email protected] or by requesting an appointment online.

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