New Beginnings: Small Efforts for a Healthy Lifestyle Posted January 4, 2018 Jill Burns, NGI Chef Instructor It’s January 2018 and the creation of New Year’s resolutions are in high gear. Though well intentioned, they often start from a place of regret, with negative self-talk, and feeling out of sorts about ourselves for having indulged in excess over the hectic holidays. There is nothing inherently wrong with having a great time and enjoying the festive season; it’s the negative internal dialogue around eating that gets us into a place of upset. We can reframe the conversation into the question: Do you desire to feel better, have more energy, be grounded, clear headed, and less worried? Setting aside self-criticism for what is already past is step one. Regaining our health is a process of unfolding, not a destination. This takes time. One of the pillars of health is the ability to move through our life situations rather than stopping at each mistake or difficulty and allowing ourselves to be stuck. Resolutions or rather new beginnings can be simple and easy instead of seen as a losing battle or not worth the effort or an aggravation. There is the tendency to devalue small actions and believe that change is better if we take bigger and faster steps. This is not necessarily true nor accurate, and can result in self defeat by being overzealous or too rigid with our choices. Small repeated efforts yield longer lasting benefits. Here are some actions for consideration. Follow your intuition and personal insights with your new beginnings. Allow yourself to sleep more. Honor the body’s need for deep relaxation that enhances our overall sense of wellbeing. Going to bed a little earlier is more conducive to waking up energized than sleeping in the next day. Try farmers’ hours: early to bed early to rise. You might just like it when you feel greater vitality. Making the most of sleep patterns includes turning off computers and cell phones before getting into bed. Looking through social media while in bed – a habit we might think doesn’t make much of a difference – keeps the brain active and engaged rather than allowing us to slow down, let go of the day, and come to a restful place.. Give the mind some time to unwind, disconnect, and turn more inward. Stay hydrated. Drink more water, preferably filtered. There are hundreds of different types of contaminants coming through the tap, even though the water is being chemically treated to be “safe”. Consider buying a water filter. There are a wide variety of filter types and prices. Superior quality water filter systems will have the NSF certification seal. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) founded in 1944, is an independent, non-government, and not-for-profit organization. Seeing this seal means the system meets the contaminant reduction claim of the manufacturer, the system is not adding anything harmful to the water, and lastly the advertising, literature, and labeling are not misleading to the consumer. Water filter units can be installed above or below the sink or there are also easy to use pitchers. Depending on space availability, personal preference, and cost it is up to you to decide what works best in your kitchen. Filter units that sit next to the sink are easily adapted to the faucet head. Under the sink units require a little more effort to install. Watching a YouTube video can help with this. I did this with a friend and we had it up and running in a short amount of time. Filtered water pitchers, by far the easiest to start with, only hold about 5 to 12 cups of water which can be limiting if you prefer to cook with filtered water. The following companies carry a range of NSA certified and BPA free filtration systems including shower heads. – AquaCera HCP – Aquasana – Multi-pure – Pelican PSF – Verbatim Once you have a water filter at home, you can fill up a BPA free water bottle before heading out. Over time you might consider a shower filter too. Buy fresh ginger root. Winter is an excellent time for sipping on warming ginger tea. Take several thinly sliced pieces of ginger root, skin on, and bring to a boil in 2-3 cups water till desired strength of flavor is achieved. Five minutes is usually enough. Sweeten with raw honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup if desired. A little squeeze of lemon into the tea is refreshing. You can also try adding small amounts of ginger root to soups, stews, and stir fries for a delicious addition. An unexpected favorite place to enjoy minced ginger is in hot breakfast cereals. Bring lunch from home once a week. You can also start by simply packing one food item from home. Bringing hot soups or stews in a thermos is quick and filling. If you’re already in this habit, try adding another day. Choosing your preferred quality and quantity of food supports your needs better than any store bought prepared foods, and is a great way to save money and get ahead of your financial goals. Packing lunch the night before makes it easier to get out in the morning with food in hand. Commit to preparing home cooked dinners at least once a week. If you already cook at home regularly, try expanding ingredient choices and cooking methods. It’s easy repeating the same ingredients and cooking them the same way. Being bored with our own food can happen. As the saying goes variety is the spice of life after all. New beginnings start with single effort. This is the most important step. Go for it. You’re worth it. Happy new year!