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Holistic Wellness — 5 Baby Steps to Resolution Success

Resolution Success

Resolution success: from a holistic point of view, one that understands your mind/body/spirit are interconnected and regulated by innate intelligence, you can pick any place to start changing your life for the better at any moment and that action will impact your whole being. You don’t have to wait for the new year or a milestone to start transforming your lifestyle with baby steps toward healthier living.

Here at 1st Step Family Wellness in St. Louis, Missouri, we are here to help you successfully accomplish your resolutions and healthy lifestyle goals from a holistic point of view one step at a time.

Your ultimate resolution or goal is probably improved wellness. Wellness is a true expression of health in every area of your life: mental, physical and emotional. Consider these five simple steps to wellness the first step toward a better, healthier you.

#1 Increase Your Water Intake

Water makes up about 60% of the human body.

We NEED water to function properly. I think that people undervalue the necessity of water for their bodies, because as Americans we take our constant access to clean water for granted, and most people don’t truly understand that their bodies rely on water to survive. If I were to ask someone if they wanted their body to be able to regulate their body temperature, digest food, and carry oxygen to their cells, I guarantee the answer would be yes! These are all important and necessary functions of the human body for survival.

Did you also know, that the human body can go weeks without food, but can’t go for more than three days without water? Crazy, right?!

That is how vital water is to our health and well-being, and to our resolution success.

In my practice in St. Louis, I often find that people do not drink enough water. When I tell them the amount that they should be drinking daily, I get a jaw dropping response from most people. It is actually really rare for me to find that someone consumes the recommended daily amount of water needed. The amount of water needed is a simple calculation. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces. As an example, a person that weighs 150 lbs should be drinking 75 ounces of pure water daily.

Signs that your body needs more water:

  • Headaches
  • Achy joints
  • Dry skin
  • Slow digestion  
  • Brain Fog
  • Sluggishness
  • Muscle cramps

Many of our patients, that follow the above recommendations for water, come back into our St. Louis office, and report that they have more energy, less pain, better looking skin, and better digestion.

Baby steps. Track how much water you are drinking normally and slowing increase it daily. Get yourself a stainless steel or glass water bottle to make it easier to track your ounces.

It is not too late to join our January Water Challenge! Just follow us on our Facebook page for daily inspiration and accountability to increase your water intake!

#2 Refreshing Sleep

Research has shown that eight hours of sleep is vital to your mental, physical and emotional wellness. This can be affected by not going to bed early enough, insomnia, or not getting restful sleep once you’re in bed. The first step to making a change in this area will be to determine which of these problems you face.

Going to bed earlier is just a matter of telling yourself that you’re going to make the change; if you’re staying up until 11 then start going to bed at 10:45, and a few weeks later go to bed at 10:30, and so on. Insomnia can have several possible causes such as drinking caffeine or eating too close to bedtime, as well as stress. If you do not sleep restfully consider your mattress, diet or physical activity.

One of the biggest enemies of our refreshing sleep is screen time–tv, computers and our phones. The average person spends 4 hours a day looking at a screen. In our busy lives with the demands of family and work it is easier to check-out to a screen, but screen time is actually stealing our valuable peace and our rest.

The problem with busy lifestyles is that we don’t allow ourselves any time to shut down or decompress, and watching television or playing on the computer doesn’t count. Down time is several minutes spent letting go of the stresses of the day, and the best time to implement this is right before bed.

Baby steps. Put the screens away and begin with just five minutes of being quiet before bed.

If you meditate or pray then do so, but even just sitting and trying to empty your mind of racing thoughts will help to calm you before bed.  A  quiet stroll up and down your street or standing in your backyard contemplating the stars can be equally peaceful. The goal is to let go of the stresses of the day and allow your mind and body to shut down and fully rest. Proper rest will help you ensure resolution success.

#3 Purge the Pantry

Anything sitting on those shelves in your pantry is most likely filled with chemicals and preservatives. They definitely are not serving your wellness goals. That goes for those “health foods” as well.

In his book, The Plant Paradox, Steven Gundry, M.D. discusses the hidden dangers of “healthy foods” that cause disease and weight gain. Clearly, sugar is a hidden danger and he addresses this in his book. Providing six alternatives to sugar, he suggests stevia extract, monk fruit, yacón syrup, chicory root, erythritol and fructo- oligosaccharides. For those struggling with their health, dietary options and overall eating related health issues, this book is highly recommended. Having adequate knowledge and planning is an integral part of resolution success.

Baby steps. Purge that pantry and start adding in more living, whole foods.

Seems logical, right? A living seed placed in the soil has all of the nutrients and life force to grow generations of plants for years to come. But take that same seed and slather it in pesticides and herbicides, jam some foreign animal DNA into its gene make-up, irradiate it, ship it an average of 1500 miles to the grocery store where it will sit on a shelf before being shoved in a nutrient killing microwave… well, you get the idea. Most of our food supply, while “edible” and filling to our stomachs, is dead on arrival.

What are living, whole foods? Food that is in its natural state, preferably organic, local, and seasonal. Most of these foods are found around the perimeter of your grocery store.

“Many people feel that if they can’t eat their favorite junk foods, they are being deprived. In reality, the sooner you switch your eating habits, the sooner you’ll enjoy increased energy, normalized weight, a better mood and improved health overall. Knowing this, many initially succeed at implementing an improved diet, but then fall back into old habits… and therefore, the ‘old’ body,” says Joseph Mercola, M.D. “To avoid  this, I recommend you make the changes to your diet gradually, starting with making one meal a day raw, then increasing
from there.”

#4 Reduce Simple Carbs

Food is the body’s fuel.

The body can burn two types of fuel, carbohydrates or fat. Our ancestors used fat as a primary fuel source but today’s Western diet leans more heavily on carbohydrates (sugar). Because of this fact, fatigue may be related to post-meal hypoglycemia.

The obvious “cure” for post-meal fatigue is to train the body to burn fat instead of sugar, which should eliminate such drops in energy level.

Baby steps. Reduce the simple carbohydrates included in our meals and add more foods rich in proteins and vegetables.

Carbohydrates are often broken down into two categories–simple and complex carbs, or bad and good carbs. How our bodies digest the food carbohydrate is how it is categorized.

Simple carbs (often considered bad carbs) are digested faster and turned into sugar; which gives our body a quick burst of energy, but not sustainable energy. Simple Carbs include:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Trehalose
  • Sucrose
  • Honey

Complex carbohydrates take a longer time for the body to digest and use as fuel, however they are still sugar and should be eaten in moderation. Complex Carbs include:

  • Whole grains–brown rice, quinoa, barley
  • Legumes–black beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Starchy vegetables–potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash

Other benefits to reducing simple carbs include but are not limited to:

  • Having accessible energy on hand, as the body effectively burns stored fat for energy
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Burning dietary fat for energy effectively leading to less fat being stored
  • Being able to readily depend upon fat for energy during exertion

The Paleo Lifestyle or a Mediterranean Diet are eating plans that will be easy to follow with the least amount of sugar and simple carb consumption. Nutrition is vital to succeeding with your wellness New Year’s resolutions. There are websites that will help explain these healthier dietary choices and encouragement available through online forums. We love Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain cookbooks and website.

#5 Get Movin’

The tagline that describes society’s pandemic of inactivity was introduced in early 2013 when the Harvard Business Review published “Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation,” by Nilofer Merchant.

The parallel between sitting and smoking isn’t metaphoric –  it’s real. According to a November  2012 Lancet study, “On the basis of a meta-analysis of published studies, derive an estimate of 5.3 million deaths worldwide attributable to physical inactivity, and contrast this estimate with the 4.8 million deaths attributable to smoking in 2000.”

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide. This is defined as a lack of regular, routine physical activity for a sustained minimum of 20 minutes more than 3 days a week. It’s not just being physically active that is required, but being in continuous physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Baby steps. Pick two days a week and walk out for ten minutes, then walk home.

If you miss one day then go the next day, but don’t give up on your resolution. After two weeks add a day and begin walking three times a week. Then on the sixth week walk out for fifteen minutes, then walk home (30 minutes total). The ultimate goal is to be walking 45 minutes at a time four or five days a week.

American lifestyle – of working at a desk all day – is mostly to blame for Americans finding themselves lethally sedentary. But so is the American past time of television watching.  In 2012, an Australian study found that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11 percent, according to The New York Times.

And it’s not just the adults. There is no bigger distraction for today’s youth than the screen–whether it is a video, TV, tablet, computer or cell phone it’s a challenge much larger than you or I faced in our youth. Screen time is not only stealing our peace and sleep, but it is stealing our physical endurance and quality time with our families.

Baby steps. Unplug! Choose one day a week where you and your family eliminate screen time and replace it with family time outside or during the winter months find an activity you can all enjoy together inside.

Here are a few ideas to get you moving more with your family:

  • Explore your town and find a new park or walking trail.
  • Get involved with your community. Sign up for a walk-a-thon, family-5k or neighborhood clean-up.
  • Consider an art project. Take the children to a local art museum or gallery for inspiration.
  • Plant a garden in the backyard. Nothing big, just a few vegetables and plants can be bought as seedlings so your success rate is almost guaranteed.
  • Go window shopping at the mall. Most malls have a coffee shop and an indoor play area for the kids.
  • Visit the Zoo. Most of us don’t think about visiting the Zoo in the winter months, but this is when most of the animals are more interactive with people. Plus, there are plenty of indoor exhibits to get inside and warm up.
  • Other local family-friendly St. Louis attractions for the winter months include: The Magic House in Kirkwood, the City Museum, the Science Center, the St. Louis Art Museum, and there is always your local mall.

So let’s recap. Baby steps to a better you wholisticaly in 2019, or any time of year:

  1. Increase your water intake. Goal: Half your body weight in ounces daily.
  2. Screens away before bed for more restful sleep. Goal: 8 hours of sleep per day. Eliminate screen time before bed.
  3. Purge your pantry and eat more living foods. Goal: More living foods in your daily diet. Minimal box foods.
  4. Reduce simple cards and eat more protein. Goal: Increase energy by avoiding simple, sugary carbs and leaning more on sustainable energy like proteins, vegetables and complex proteins.
  5. Get movin’ more regularly. Goal: Walking 45 minutes at a time, four or five days a week.

The doctors and staff at 1st Step Family Wellness in St.Louis are here to support you–physically, emotionally and mentally–along your wellness journey. Feel free to reach out to us!

Happy New Year!