January Wellness: Small Steps to a Healthier You

Are you feeling under pressure to create a whole new you as we enter into January? Everywhere you look it appears that everyone is entering the new year with great gusto and making magical transformations into a super fit body with an extremely organised life. But in reality, how many people do you know who really manage to make life altering changes overnight and more than that, stick to them beyond what has become known as Quitters Day, the second Friday in January?

There is so much pressure to generate a whole new you at the beginning of the year that it can become overwhelming and easier to do nothing. Make little changes that can be achieved.

Creating new goals and habits, especially when they are for the benefit of our health and wellbeing, are valuable and can be highly effective. But let’s be sensible and look at what is achievable and enjoy the positivity of reaching your goals. Make it all about little wins that build to a bigger goal.

How hydrated are you? Many of us don’t drink enough water, so how about setting a goal of drinking an extra glass a day. It doesn’t have to be a pint, why not start with a smaller glass and get into the habit of drinking a glass every morning, gradually it can be come a new habit and by the end of January you might be doing it without thinking. This simple step has got you started on the road to a better hydrated body which is important for so many body systems.

How about a goal of eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Fresh foods can be a valuable source of vitamins and minerals plus other plant nutrients, but changing your diet overnight  is not always easy or practical. A better solution is to introduce small changes and let the changes become part of your normal lifestyle.

Changing your diet overnight isn’t sensible or practical, try introducing something new each week or plan to test a new recipe every month. A great way to bring healthy foods into your mealtimes.

Have a piece of fruit with breakfast or as a mid-morning snack, Fresh fruit can be easy to transport and doesn’t need much preparation and is better for you than reaching for a biscuit or chocolate bar. Add salad vegetables to your lunch as a way of increasing your intake whether it is as a side salad or as part of the filling for a sandwich or wrap.

Simple steps can make all the difference and you might even discover something new that you can now add to your mealtime. Why not challenge yourself or the family to suggest and try one new ingredient each week? An easy and fun way to test out different ingredients and discover new foods. The joy of the internet and social media is that there are lots of free recipe resources available so you never be at a loss for what to do with something new.

If you had planned to do more exercise as a new year resolution and then give up when you realised it meant lots of equipment or a gym membership, look for easy options and make your goal a reality. Local swimming baths are often very accessible and you don’t need a vast amount of equipment. Or even easier, think about a walk every day. If walking is not easy, just getting outside to get some daylight and fresh air can make a difference to your physical and mental wellbeing. It is not about doing what you think you ‘have’ to do, make it about finding out what you can do and adapting things to your lifestyle while still making a difference.

Don’t plan to run a marathon by next month! Decide that you will make an effort to get outside and go for a walk on a regular basis.

When it comes to your supplement regime, again you can aim to keep it simple. If you have not taken supplements before, but are keen to start building a regime, start simple with a multivitamin and mineral. Easy to take and giving you a wide spectrum of nutrients, they are a great way to ensure you are getting a little bit of everything to work alongside your healthy diet. Look for supplements with the nutrients in their most absorbable forms so that you get the best nutritional and economic value from them.

If you are looking to build on a basic regime, maybe add a friendly bacteria supplement. These good bacteria are important in helping the gut microbiome stay healthy. Your gut microbiome is not just important for keeping the digestive system healthy, but it is worth noting that around 70% of our immune system comes from the gut. Another good tip is to add fermented foods such as yohurt, kefir and kimchi to your diet.

If you already take a range of supplements, maybe your new goal could be to tidy up what you take and give your regime a review. Does it need tweaking? Have your nutritional demands changed? Have you ended up with three supplements containing the same ingredients? It is also a good time to look at the labels and check that your supplements are not beyond their expiry date. While you are at it, look at the instructions and find out if you are taking it as you should. If it says with a meal or on an empty stomach, are you doing that or do you swallow them all down first thing in the morning? You could be getting more from your supplements if you take them as they are recommended.

If your new goal is to boost your supplement regime, take a look at what you already have and ensure the products have not expired and that you are taking them as directed.

During the winter months it is also recommended that everyone in the UK takes a vitamin D supplement due to the lack of sunlight. Vitamin D is not only important for healthy teeth and bones but also plays an important role in the functioning of the immune system.

Whatever you do this January, don’t pressurise yourself into thinking you need to create a whole new you. Take simple steps and achievable goals, create new and healthy habits and don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back when you do positive things that make a difference to your wellbeing. And remember that if all doesn’t go to plan and you have a bad patch, don’t give up your goals, simply start again as soon as you can and carry on with your wellbeing journey.

Remember to celebrate the little wins on the way to your big goals.