After the year that was 2020, many people have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of 2021 – armed with goals, intentions and resolutions that were not possible to achieve as 2020 progressed. It’s important to remember that, regardless of COVID, most people actually fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions! Our circumstances change, our resolutions are unrealistic, we are not clear on what we want, we get busy… the reasons most people fail to achieve their resolutions are endless! Because of our busy lives, it’s often easier (and realistic) to set small, but easily achievable goals and habits that can work with your current lifestyle.
With health and fitness goals often featuring on New Year’s resolutions lists, I have put together five simple healthy habits to adopt in 2021 that you can start integrating into your life!
1. Starting your day with warm lemon water
Many of us indulge more than we usually would over the Christmas period, especially with alcohol, leaving us with over worked livers! Lemon water helps to cleanse the liver and wake up your digestive system gently. Patients often tell us they start their day with drinking a coffee, which is definitely not the healthiest habit to have. Try switching out your first drink to lemon water, all you do is mix boiling water with cold water (about 500ml total) and squeeze half a lemon in. Now you don’t have to give up your coffee, we know that’s a love affair one should not mess with! But try to wait at least half an hour so your body has time to wake up before being thrown into adrenal overdrive with a hit of caffeine!
2. Daily movement
Walking is one of the best exercises you can do for your spine, and a healthy spine is vital to feel and function at our best. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have fifteen minutes to spare to get those steps up. Little and often is better than nothing at all! Also, low intensity exercise will burn 50% of the calories from fat compared to 36% at high intensity, making a walk one of the best ways to lose weight. Cardiovascular exercise also lowers triglycerides, so it’s an easy way to start reaching those weight loss goals (a common New Years resolution!).
3. Try a new fruit or vegetable each week
Healthy gut bacteria is vital for digestive and hormonal health, and the more biodiversity the better. Trying new plant species regularly will help maintain good microbiome biodiversity. There are so many fads and trends out there these days that nutritional information can get very overwhelming. In recent years there has been a focus on “primal eating” – eating similarly to how our ancestors would have (organic meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and no processed food).
Something that is often not spoken about though is diversity in our food. In the primal years, humans often travelled around, so would have been eating various plant species according to the climate and location. Nowadays with the convenience of supermarkets, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and eat the same meals over and over. Even if these foods are packed with healthy ingredients, if we are not consuming variety week to week, day to day, then our gut microbiome will suffer as it needs diversity to thrive. As easy way to achieve diversity is going to local farmers markets and selecting a new fruit or vegetable each week that you’ve never tried!
4. Daily gratitude
Yes, we’ve all heard it before. Be grateful for what we have and see the blessings flow through in abundance! And unless you’re into that kind of stuff it can all feel a bit silly. But, we still challenge you to try it. See what a week – heck lets push it – a month of writing down three things you’re grateful each morning or evening and watch how your feeling of contentedness changes. We bet you it will.
5. Glute activation
This may sound like a weird one, hear me out. 2020 came with a plethora of unexpected changes and a lot of people ended up working from a home in a make shift “home office”. Of course this meant many people sitting in a lot of weird positions, working from the couch or even from a bed! Sitting for long periods of time means our glutes switch off. Weak and inactive glutes can be a cause of lower back pain. Lower back pain is one of the leading reasons for GP visits in Australia. Doing simple glute activation exercises for 5 minutes a day can help to keep the glutes firing, and minimise the chance of developing postural issues and in turn, lower back pain.
See below for some simple glute activation exercises you can try at home!