It’s that time of year when so many people make resolutions and intentions for the upcoming year. Some of the most popular resolutions concern health: to eat more healthfully, to lose weight, to walk more, to join (and actually attend) a gym.
How can we help?
Clean out your digestive system
A good way to start is to do the Detox diet, or Cleanse. This is detailed in the book Detox or Disease, available at CAM, or your practitioner can get you started. In this program, intended to last eight days, foods that can get you into trouble one way or another are eliminated. These include foods that are most likely to be allergenic or toxic, such as wheat, corn, soy, sugar, dairy, tomatoes, and artificial food additives. You will probably feel better after doing the Detox diet, both physically and psychologically, and ready to do more things to further your health goals.
Keep the good foods coming
The Detox diet is followed by a maintenance diet, which isn’t nearly as stringent but keeps the good foods coming and the unhealthy foods away.
A healthy kitchen
Your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer have probably accumulated a lot of food, much of which might not be optimal for your health. This is a great opportunity to clean out anything that is not serving you nutritionally, and replace it with food that can lead to greater health and vitality. Get rid of the unhealthy foods, those with sugar, white flour, artificial sweeteners, food colors and artificial flavors, and anything fried. Give processed food to a neighbor or food bank. Stock up on healthy food, organic where possible. Get lots of living green foods such as salad vegetables. Nuts and oils, as well as products made with oil, can go rancid with time; toss them out if they’ve been in the cabinet for years or if they smell spoiled, since rancidity means toxicity.
Probably the most popular resolution of all is to lose weight. The Detox and maintenance diets are a good start, and will help with any out-of-control cravings, but there may be more to your overweight than just diet. There are other causes of overweight, such as thyroid issues, hormone imbalances, yeast that can cause uncontrollable cravings for bread or sugar, nutrient deficiencies that can cause cravings or overeating, or toxicity or allergy that is causing you to hold onto water weight. CAM practitioners can help you figure out what might be getting in the way of your losing weight and maintaining the weight loss. Almost any of these measures can help beyond weight loss; they can help promote overall health by allowing your body to work as optimally as possible.
Another common resolution is to do more exercise: walk more, join and go to the gym, get an exercise DVD and set aside some time to follow along with it, join some sort of supportive exercise group. These are all excellent ideas, but the important thing is follow-through. So common as to be a cliché is the gym membership that goes unused after the first enthusiastic couple of weeks, the treadmill in the bedroom that now collects laundry, the exercise DVD that’s still in its wrapper months later.
Try to figure out what would most motivate you. For some, keeping track of weight lifted in pounds and repetitions, miles walked or bicycled, or number and frequency of gym visits is a strong motivator. For others, support of people with similar goals is crucial. A personal trainer can help provide discipline that you might lack as well as helpful advice on how to do the exercises properly.
More than diet and exercise
There are health-related things you can do other than diet and exercise. Stress can torpedo health, and it would be quite useful to eliminate those things that cause stress to the greatest extent possible. Are piles of paperwork or household clutter constantly nagging at you to take care of them? Set aside some time to take care of these things, or even hire someone to do so, as an investment in your health. Bad relationships that subtly undermine you or take more stress and time than they’re worth can be let go.
Clean, clean, clean
Cleaning might not be the first thing that someone desiring better health might think of, but it’s actually quite important in the health quest. Clean out your body with the Detox diet. Clean up your diet afterward. Clean out your fridge and pantry of unhealthy food. Reduce stress by cleaning household clutter and paperwork. Clear bad relationships out of your life.
A warning about cleaning, though: it’s wonderful to clean and vacuum and scrub, and helps psychologically as well to help get you into new-you mode. But be careful what you clean with. Many cleaners are toxic; if your cleaner has a strong chemical or added-fragrance smell, it probably isn’t something you should be using, inhaling, and touching. Use nontoxic alternatives such as health-food-store cleaners, vinegar, natural unscented soap, or baking soda.
Schedule a checkup
This is a good time of year to see your CAM practitioner, or come for a first visit. They can assess your health and give personalized recommendations, and catch small problems before they become large problems.