You did it. You took the time to assess yourself by asking tough questions to decide if you’re ready to make a change. If you find yourself ready, but have no idea where to start, you’re in luck. Today’s email addresses what to do now!!
Step 1: Get a Baseline
AKA the current, internal-state of your body.
Sometimes the body isn’t getting enough of one category and sometimes it’s getting too much. Your body will react to different stressors in your life. One of the most efficient ways (beyond how you feel) to determine what areas or systems of the body that need the most help is by getting some bloodwork (lab work) done.
Basic lab work includes the assessment of:
• cholesterol levels
• blood sugar levels
• hormone levels
• vitamin &mineral levels
• other lab tests based upon family medical history-pending Physician’s Request
Note: If you’ve recently had bloodwork done (i.e. at your 2017 annual wellness physical or within the last year) check with your doctor to see if they think it’s a good idea to get an update. This January is a great time to ask about these tests since they can get incorporated into your annual wellness physical.
Okay, you and your doctor have looked at your current state. There are a few areas that could be addressed. Maybe, everything checks out well, but you still want to take even better care or your body.
Or… maybe you chose to hold off on the bloodwork, don’t worry! You will still be able to follow through with the next step.
Step 2: Food Journaling/Process of Elimination
Now we’ll address the change you want to make and how your diet can make a difference.
Goals some of you may be considering:
• Lowering your cholesterol
• Eating less sugar
• You’re excited to go Vegan because you saw “What the Health” and now you can’t imagine eating beef or drinking milk ever again.
• You were up late last night and now you want to PIYO your way to a healthier you.
Regardless of your goals, you’ll still need to begin with a nice long look at what you’re feeding yourself. The easiest way to do this is by tracking your food with an app. There are several to choose from, but the one we’ve found to be the most user friendly is MyFitnessPal. You’ll be able to see the full breakdown of your macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrates), as well as, your micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and SUGAR).
Think of this information as your “nutritional blueprint”. You’ll see the areas that need improvement, be able to prioritize what you’re ready to change today and make a plan for the areas you are contemplating change.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY’S FEEDBACK
When you eat something your body LOVES, you know it within seconds. However, it’s also important to identify the foods it disagrees with. You’ll know it when it bites back with unsavory symptoms—sometimes they are immediate and other instances take a little longer to identify.
Pay close attention to these types of feelings and reactions:
• Weight loss/gain
• Body composition
• Energy levels
o sluggish, tired, alert, focused
o happy, sad, bored
o loss or gain
o easy or hard to fall asleep
o stay asleep or wake often in the night
• Normal bodily functions
o specifically your digestive system
Here’s an example. If you feel miserable after eating dairy products, you may consider limiting them. If you don’t feel “right” on a low-carb diet after a while, you may need to try tweaking it by adding some healthy fats. Along the same line, some of us are trained to accept discomfort as being normal. Track how you feel in a journal for at least a week to spot any abnormalities in the way your body reacts to the foods you are consuming. This way you can start to eliminate foods that just don’t work for you.
ADJUST THINGS IN SMALL BITES
Once you gather personal information from your experiences, make small, realistic tweaks instead of drastic changes. Introducing or eliminating too many things at once will simply muddle what’s working and what’s not.
Here are some examples of small changes:
• Decreasing how many times per week you eat fast food. Even if you drop that by 1 day per week you’ll begin to feel different!
• Drinking 8, 8-oz glasses of water each day. The average adult needs at least 64 oz. of water each day.
• If you drink 3+ sodas a day, start by cutting back to 2 a day until you’re motivated to cut it out completely.
• If you’re trying to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet, start by cooking with olive oil or by adding an avocado to your lunch or dinner.
Next…take a moment to breathe! If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, know that it’s okay. This part of the process goes step-by-step. We fully recognize how mass amounts of information is flung at you left & right and is continuously happening in many areas of your life.
In the next part of this email series we will address and help you navigate you’re way through the different types of health information that surrounds us via television, social media, work emails (although these are some of the best bits of info…hehehe), through conversations with peers, etc. Stay tuned!!
As always, Meredith and I are here for support!
Stefanie (Lembovski) Welch