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Should You Still Make New Year’s Resolutions

Should You Still Make New Year’s Resolutions

Most articles on making healthy New Year’s resolutions will tell you not to waste your time. Let me show you how they actually may serve a good purpose whether you follow through on it or not, and how to make them truly effective.

Health & Wellness Is All Around You

Once that calendar flips over to a new year, there is no ignoring the usual desires that come with it. Lose weight, stop smoking, eat better, spend less on macrame jean shorts. Ok, that last one might just be me.

But here’s the thing: the stats are not on the side of actually following through on your new resolution. There is a very small percentage of people that are able to follow through on complete life overhauls but they are in the minority, like people who watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians to improve IQ scores.

Just because the failure rate on New Year’s resolutions is high, doesn’t mean they should be chucked to the curb like your withering Christmas tree. There are a few mindset changes you can make to have healthy New Year’s resolutions become more effective.

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1. Whether You Like it or Not, it’s a Reminder to Get Your Butt in Gear

For as much as people say it’s a waste of time to start improving your nutrition or joining a gym in January because it will fizzle out, I don’t think that’s the case. At the very least it serves as a reminder for you to take control of your health each year. Even if it’s only once a year, it’s like a little nagging reminder that you should move things in a healthier direction. If you don’t acknowledge it in January, the thought might still pop up a few months later.

Sometimes, there just needs to be something in the back of your head telling you to make some good changes. This might go on for a few years, but there can also be that year where you are totally ready and it all finally clicks in.

The point is to make that year THIS year.

2. You Are Allowed To Start Small

This is what is truly behind all the failure rate stats: people taking on too much, too soon. If you’ve gone from eating Taco Bell three times a day and your physical activity revolves around clicking the “Are you still there” button on Netflix, you’re going to need to start small. Diving head first into 3-hour workouts and eating rice cakes and broccoli all day is going to become a huge shock to your system. This could overwhelm you and eventually lead to you throwing in the towel.

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No matter what your goals are, the secret is to start small and slowly add in good habits. You can build a healthy lifestyle by mastering a new habit until it becomes second nature. This means starting with something simple and doing it for at least a week or two so it’s familiar. Then you can move on to another one. It’s gradual, comfortable, and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Here are 3 health habits to start out with that are simple but effective.

1. Slow Down Your Time Spent Eating

This doesn’t even require changing what you eat but can help you avoid overeating each day. The average person is eating so fast that they are overriding the fullness signals that go from your stomach to your brain saying you’ve had enough. These naturally occur but take around 15-20 minutes to engage. Most people are eating in 3-5 minutes, sometimes quicker, and don’t allow this natural mechanism to do its job.

You may have had enough food, but your body hasn’t recognized that yet. When that happens, you continue to consume more calories than needed. So whenever you eat, be conscious of the time. Set up the timer on your phone or watch a clock and take at least 15 minutes. This can help you consume less each time and also make digestion and absorption easier for you.

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2. Drink More Water Each Day

Most people are walking around in dehydrated or close to dehydrated states. It’s not always recognizable because dehydration doesn’t only mean crawling through a desert in rags. The problem is this: if you’re not getting adequate water, then you’re throwing your body out of whack. Among other things water is critical for:

  • Digestion
  • Absorption
  • Circulation
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Cognitive function
  • Transport of nutrients through the body
  • Sports and exercise performance

Your aim is to drink about half your body weight in ounces each day. So if you’re 150 pounds that’s 75 ounces of water. When you figure in a cup of water being 8oz, that equals around 9 cups a day. Since most large drinking glasses can hold close to two cups, you’re at around 4-5 large glasses a day, which is very doable. Another tip I’d give you is to have a glass or two first thing when you wake up to get your body up to speed quicker. Throw in some squeezed lemon and it really kicks up the cleansing and detoxification.

3. Eliminate Or Drastically Reduce Sugar

Now you’re looking at a real change. If you’re like the average person, you’re consuming far too much sugar and sugar is really getting exposed for all the damage it can do. The ‘big three’ dangerous health risks in the United States are obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, all of which are associated with too much sugar consumption. It’s not hard to see that it is something that needs to be eliminated.

I won’t lie, it won’t be easy thanks to the addictive nature of sugar and the fact it’s pretty much everywhere. If you can start cutting out manufactured and processed foods, that will be the best start as that’s where sugar is going to show up. If there’s one thing you do, at least cut out liquid sugar. Don’t drink your calories. That means eliminating soft drinks, juices, and sports drinks. Just this alone can make a huge difference to your health.

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Wrapping It Up

Obviously, your health and wellness go a lot deeper than these three tips. However, if you’re looking to make a change, this is a good place to start. These are tips that aren’t overwhelming, rather they are straightforward and easy to implement. Like I mentioned, don’t do everything at once. Start out with one and go with it for a few weeks until it feels comfortable. Then, move on to another.

If you let yourself gradually adopt new healthy habits every few weeks, by the end of the year you may be looking at a complete overhaul to your health and wellness. So when that calendar flips for the next January, you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Featured photo credit: Paul Wilkinson via flickr.com

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Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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