Who’s excited for a fresh start, a holiday detox, and the opportunity for self improvement?! I know I am. It’s no wonder that so many New Year’s resolutions revolve around health. The last three months of each year are filled with holidays focused on TREATS and activities that leave us sleep deprived and off of our normal routines. Our family did a pretty decent job maintaining our primal habits over the holidays, but even the extra “paleo-friendly” treats, a few non-paleo “cheats”, drinks, added stress and decreased sleep has left us feeling less than our best and READY to get back on track!!
Here are a few of my suggested tips for getting off to a good start in 2013:
1. Clean out your pantry and fridge!
Throw away any lingering candies, chocolates, cookies or non-paleo foods that may have worked their way into your house over the holidays! It’s time for a clean slate. If they aren’t around, you won’t be tempted.
Reorganize! It always feels good to me to get rid of expired pantry items, wilted herbs in the fridge, and frost-bitten frozen fruits. Wipe down the fridge, dust the pantry shelves and group like foods.
2. Treat yourself to a chest freezer and stock up on quality meat.
A chest freezer was one of the most worthwhile purchases we’ve made in awhile. We’ve had ours for a couple years now and it houses our 1/2 grass-fed cow, 1/2 pastured pig and pastured chickens from various local farmers. It’s awesome to be able to walk out to the garage and choose a cut of meat to thaw for upcoming dinners. The money you’ll save in buying bulk quality meat will leave you and your wallet with a big smile!
Check out these wonderful resources to help you find local meat sources or companies that will ship to you:
3. Join a local CSA and seek out the farmer’s markets in your area.
Depending on where you live, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs) and Farmer’s Markets may or may not run all year. If they don’t, it’s still a good time to get a head start on finding out any pertinent information for when they do. Many CSAs required advanced sign up or down payments months before the season begins. Joining a CSA and/or taking advantage of surrounding markets is a great way to try new produce, get the most nutrient dense produce items and support local farmers who are trying to bring us back to what’s important.
Check out this link for helpful searching:
4. Get outside!
Many of us spend FAR more time inside than we do exploring Mother Nature! But, some fresh air, sunshine and contact with the Earth can do you a whole lot of good. Try and make it a point this year to:
• go for walks
• venture down a new trail
• play ball with your kids in the back yard
• explore a new park
• or have a picnic
The list goes on and on – be creative.
5. Improve your sleep!
Not only is sleep duration important and often overlooked, but quality of sleep can greatly impact your overall health too. The general rule of thumb is 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night, waking on one’s own (no alarm), and feeling refreshed upon stepping out of the bed. Who can say this describes their sleep habits?! Probably not many of us (including myself)! But, ever wonder, “would I really feel better?” “Would all my efforts to eat well and exercise right be boosted by better sleep?”
Maybe you do get 8 hours of zzz’s most nights, but your quality of sleep is compromised. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your sleep environment and give yourself the best shot for waking rested:
• Use black-out blinds and remove any night-lights
• Refrain from using light-emitting devices within an hour before bed (cell phones, computers, TVs, etc.) – they suppress melatonin
• Remove your cell phones, laptops, and iPads from your bedroom (the beeps, buzzes, wifi waves and their mere presence can interrupt this important time of healing, growing, and rebuilding)
• Do something relaxing right before bed (read something positive, journal, take a bath, etc) – avoid work at least an hour before you plan to go to bed
• Avoid grains and sugars before bed
• Avoid alcohol before bed (it can disrupt quality of sleep and prevent deep sleep)
• Avoid caffeine – especially after noon
• Just as you may do with your children, keep your nighttime routine consistent
6. Clean “green”
Why pollute your household air and thus your insides with harsh chemicals when simple and safe ingredients can get the same job done just as well? There are many great books on “green” cleaning and housekeeping available today – check some out here and opt for items such as …
• baking soda
• lemon juice
• and essential oils
for effective alternatives to toxic products.
Remember that “clean” doesn’t have a smell:-)
7. Replace your chemical laden skincare products with natural options
Just like the air we breathe, the products we put on our skin, or in our hair, are absorbed into our bodies. When you take a close look at many skincare and haircare products, you’ll find they are filled with compounds you certainly wouldn’t put in your mouth, so why choose to put them on your skin?
Check out the Environmental Working Group (a non-profit organization) for useful tips and a helpful rating system to find friendlier options.
• www.ewg.org (skin deep cosmetics database)
• Also check out new companies such as Primal Life Organics for primal skincare options! I placed my first order this month.
• Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil isn’t just for cooking with – check out this LINK to their line of skin care products, too!
Challenge your primal-being and turn off your cell phone from time to time and engage in the physical world around you. It’s so easy to rely on these little instruments that make life more convenient today, but it’s also easy for them to prevent us from really living. “Think and wonder, wonder and think.”
9. Take charge and make a change
The start of a new year is always a motivating time to commit to establishing a new healthy habit or replacing a less healthy behavior with a better one. Now is a good time to pick an area of your nutrition to fine tune! I know that many of my blog followers are pretty pure paleo-ites, but some also question whether they could do more to continue their journey towards optimal health. If you’ve ever wondered (or maybe you have a good inclination) how your body would respond to further tweaking, give it a try for the next month and see!
Some simple, but potentially very effective examples include:
• Eliminate dairy
• Reduce or eliminate coffee
• Reduce or eliminate alcohol
• Reduce fructose (or fruit) consumption
• Decrease nut intake
• Cook more meals at home
• Drink more water
Pick just ONE thing to experiment with.
10. Plan and prepare!
We all know that a paleo way of eating requires a little (or a lot) of extra planning and preparing in order to do it successfully and make it a lifestyle. Enter the new year ready to take it on!
Establish a system:
• decide which days each week you will menu plan and grocery shop
• set aside your go-to recipes so that meal planning is easier
• make a list of your favorite snacks (if you eat them) or quick meals and keep your fridge or pantry well stocked with those items
• assign different family members a day per week to choose a paleo meal
• involve your family in the planning and preparing so everyone feels a little ownership and connection with the food
• have fun with it!
Cheers to a healthy 2013!!
Share your New Year’s goals in the comment section below:-)