Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? (raises hand!) This is a socially acceptable time to start fresh, when people reflect upon their past, and look forward to the future and an opportunity to change. Health and lifestyle changes top the list, and one of the most common goals is to “lose weight”. This goal also seems the most challenging to stick to at this time of year. One reason is genetics: our hunter-gatherer ancestors held onto body fat during the colder months due to scarcity of food. Another reason may be our extreme ambitions; in our enthusiasm for a fresh start, we set unrealistic goals (such as suddenly changing from a sedentary lifestyle to daily gym workouts). Discouragement can set in when we can’t meet our high expectations. So let’s make a plan to ease into our resolutions. Changing one’s lifestyle is a process, and good health involves more than just the physical body and numbers on a scale; it encompasses mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being too. Try these small and healthy holistic changes now, and when the warm weather rolls in, you’ll be ahead of the game and ready to crush your goals!
1. Drink water first thing in the morning: Drinking a glass or two of fresh H2O on an empty stomach can jump-start the metabolism; re-hydrate the body and moisturize the skin; flush out toxins that the body was eliminating during the night; and replenish the brain, which is composed of 75% water. Plain water isn’t your jam? Add the juice of half a lemon to warm water. This will clear metabolic waste from the kidneys; give the immune system a boost from the Vitamin C; and bonus! lemons have antioxidants, powerhouses that kick the asses of free radicals.
2. Stop keeping score: “This time last year, I resolved to stop keeping score in my life. I stopped caring if I gave someone a gift and they didn’t give one in return. I stopped paying attention to whose ‘turn’ it was to call, host dinner, or make coffee. It helped me to recognize that in a friendship, we each do what we’re best able to do and hope it all balances out. We never know what’s going on in other people’s lives that may make it difficult for them to reciprocate. It has been incredibly freeing to give without any expectation of reward or return, to give for the joy of giving—and that satisfaction really was all the gift I needed or wanted. The experience has freed my mind from grudges and resentments, and created more space to enjoy life on a whole new level.”
—Donna Cameron, Brier, WA
3. Sleep 7-8 hours every night: Lack of sufficient sleep depresses the immune system and is tied to an increased risk of chronic illnesses. A number of studies have linked poor sleep to Alzheimer’s. Sleep helps heal and repair heart and blood vessels, reduces our risk for obesity, and deep sleep is the time when our brain’s cellular waste removal system is the most active.
4. Eat more avocados, fish, and salads: Avocados have anti-inflammatory properties and provide up to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients (potassium, vitamins E, B and folate). Cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, etc.) provide protein and healthy omega-3 fats (polyunsaturated fatty acids). PUFA’s are essential for memory, visual acuity, digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, proper cell division… just about everything that keeps our body running smoothly. Salads are chock-full of nutrients, and veggies are your friends. This mean, green detox salad recipe is hearty enough for winter dining and has kale, broccoli, purple cabbage, cilantro, parsley, grapefruit and avocado mixed with a lemony tahini dressing (the longer the salad sits and marinates in the dressing, the better it becomes!) Top it off with some crunchy coconut chickpeas tossed in a little soy sauce.
5. Lighten up the recipe of your favorite comfort food: because we can’t subsist on salad alone! Plus, it will get your taste-buds used to eating lighter fare. This recipe for Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan is served over whole wheat pasta. Simple, crowd-friendly, healthy and tasty, a total win!
6. Breathe. Deeply. Take a deep breath. Pause for a second or two. Exhale slowly. Do this a few times. You’ve just done your nervous system a super favor, and many studies have shown that. Focused breathing is an incredible stress-buster that lowers your blood pressure and heart rate STAT!
7. Move (duh): You’ve probably heard about the studies that say sitting too much is bad for your health. Well, it is. Sitting for long periods of time (this includes at the office, on the computer, binge-watching TV, reading, driving a car) can slow the metabolism, affecting the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and causing the bones and muscles to become weaker. Simple solution: set your phone or timer to remind you to stand up from the sitting position every 30 minutes and walk around for a minute or two. Stretch, roll your shoulders and neck, bend at the waist. Get a glass of water during TV commercial breaks. If traveling, try to stop once every hour. This simple exercise is a seriously easy way to burn extra calories effortlessly.
8. Braaains! Brains are command central, and they are awesome. Feed your head: learn a new skill or hobby; solve crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, play word and memory games; take the stairs; keep an open mind; drink lots of water (see first resolution above). And stay away from zombies.
9. Read Books: Related to brain health, reading improves brain function, boosts brain power, increases intelligence, AND! relieves stress better and faster than listening to music or going for a walk! Studies have shown that taking the mind into a literary world eases tensions in the muscles and the heart.
10. Go Outside and Play: Spending time in nature has been proven to increase overall happiness, eliminate stress, reduce the signs of aging, increase brain function, and sunshine jump-starts the natural production of Vitamin D!
“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” ~ Doug Larson (haha!) Hope these tips help you to start 2017 on a healthy note! Next up is our astro forecast of the week, brought to you with the assistance of my awesome partner Chris 🙂
Astro-vibe of the week (January 8-14)
Mercury turned direct on Sunday (1/8), marking the end of its retrograde transit. It’s now time to move forward on projects and communications that may have taken some “backwards” steps during the past few weeks.
Between Tuesday (1/10) to Thurday (1/12), the Sun in Capricorn will make a T-square to the Jupiter (in Libra) and Uranus (in Aries) opposition that started in December and lingers through most of 2017. The first transit is the Sun’s square to Uranus on Tuesday, which often brings unexpected jolts or surprises that shake things up and throw a wrench into our daily routines. As we are creatures of habit, this can lead to upsets, conflicts, and even accidents. It’s important to keep a cool head, and to flow with the events that unfold. Often a situation that breaks down during this time is truly in need of repair. The Sun’s square to Jupiter on Thursday adds exuberance and optimism to the mix, making it easier to face whatever changes Uranus brings. Stay positive and take advantage of this opportunity to expand your life in the areas of relationships, business/career, and personal expression.
T-squares are known to be challenging events astrologically, as we are forced to manage 3 different energies at once. In this case it’s the elements of Fire, Air, and Earth. Combining these three elements is like managing a fire in the woodstove with just the right balance of wood, air, and heat. While juggling the 3 spheres of personal freedom, partnerships, and career can be difficult, if done successfully it can produce extremely rewarding results.
In the middle of this disruptive T-square, Mars in Pisces will make a harmonious sextile to Pluto in Capricorn. This transit will provide a boost of energy towards manifesting our goals. It’s an energy that enhances group cooperation, so you might want to enlist some help from your comrades to get the most benefits of this transit.
The Full Moon in Cancer early Thursday morning (1/12) will tie into the T-square and complete a Grand Cross in the Cardinal signs. The element of home and family will enter into mix, and we may have to deal with some intense emotions. While the Grand Cross can feel like we’re being pulled in every direction, they are also alchemical moments when all four elements are present waiting to be synthesized into something new. Take some time to catch your breath and find a way to create something beautiful out of the chaotic energy.
It looks like this intense set of transits will have a sweet ending as Venus moves into conjunction with Neptune in Pisces on Thursday evening. This alignment is full of compassion, and a selfless kind of love that can bring complete soul-union experiences with loved ones. It also has a spiritual quality, where the boundary between the sacred and mundane dissolves. For artists and creative individuals, this energy can lead to truly inspired work.
Do you have any healthy New Year’s resolutions to add? Please comment below. As always, thank you for reading, and feel free to share this post! xoxo ~ Amy & Chris