Every year we say it will be our best one yet, but how do we actually make that happen?
Dr Cris Beer has been passionate about attaining optimum health since being diagnosed with high blood pressure and cholesterol. Through her Gold Coast practice and books, Dr Cris specialises in preventative health, lifestyle medicine, hormone health, weight loss, fatigue and sleep problems, digestive issues, as well as women’s health. She is a registered medical doctor helping real patients with real health issues every day.
“Every year people tell me this is the year they are going to get healthy,” says Dr Cris. “For many of them, January of the next year rolls around and they’re still planning to ‘get around’ to getting healthy.
“I encourage my patients to forget the big picture and look at making lots of small changes. These are easier to get into the habit of, and after a while, you will realise that all those small changes added up to big changes and a happier, healthier you will emerge.”
These are Cris’ top ten tips for getting healthy this year…
- Know your motivators: if you want to make long lasting changes to your lifestyle, first identify what keeps you motivated. Knowing why you want to do something will help keep you focused and get you through those days when you feel it is all too hard – and you will have those days.
- Drink to good health: water is the single most important nutrient our body needs. In fact, sixty percent of our body is made up of water. If you don’t drink enough water, you will be dehydrated and could suffer from any of the following symptoms – fatigue, headaches, reduced concentration, muscle cramps, joint pains, digestive problems and many more. My recommendation is to drink one litre for every twenty-five kilograms you weigh
- Sleep well: Australians are a nation of insomniacs. Studies show that one in three Australians (up to seven million people) don’t get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is important to allow our bodies to repair tissues; control body fat levels and appetite; slow the ageing process; boost the immune system; and reduce stress hormone levels. Adults need an average of seven to nine hours sleep per night.
- Eat by the 80/20 rule: by this I meant that eighty percent of your daily diet should be made up of unprocessed, wholesome foods. These foods come in their own original packaging made by nature – peels, skins, shells or outer leaves. They grow in the ground, grow on trees or come from animals. They are not processed and do not contain artificial flavours, colours, preservatives or sweeteners.
- Detox your liver: our liver is the key detoxification organ in our body. If we want to feel well, we need to look after our liver. Symptoms of a stressed liver include fatigue; nausea; itching; bloated abdomen and swollen ankles; easy bruising; reduced immunity; jaundice; fever; and anaemia. Reduce your consumption of alcohol, caffeine and processed foods and eat vegetables from the brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts and cauliflower three to five times per week.
- Say goodbye to toxic stress: stress is toxic to our bodies, so toxic that it can poison your body and mind to the point where you are totally incapacitated. It is estimated that sixty to eighty percent of all visits to GPs are stress related, including fatigue, headaches, inability to lose weight, mental health issues, insomnia, digestive problems, muscle tension, difficulty conceiving, recurrent infections, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Make a list of all the stressors in your life, from most to least stressful. Then target your top two stressors and work out a way to reduce the impact they have on your life. After that, tackle the next two and so on.
- Learn to breathe: every cell in our body requires oxygen for a process called cellular respiration. If we breathe too shallowly, we don’t get enough oxygen. The result is fatigue, muscle aches and a range of other potentially debilitating conditions. Learn deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing or belly breathing. Place a hand on your belly. When you are breathing deeply, you will feel it move. Deep breathing also reduces anxiety responses.
- Move more: physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death due to chronic disease worldwide, contributing to over three million preventable deaths annually. Our bodies were made to move with over 200 bones, 650 muscles and 360 joints working as levers to create movement. There are three exercise groups: cardiovascular training, resistance training and flexibility and core strength training. Try to incorporate all of them into your routine. Start slow and build up as your fitness levels improve. Remember some is better than none, and more is better than less.
- Look after your posture: many of our aches and pains are due to poor posture. Neck and back pain can be largely prevented by correcting our posture. Correct standing involves distributing our weight evenly between both feet and standing with relaxed (unlocked knees). Line up your ears, shoulders and hips. Think tall, puff out your chest, tuck your chin in and tuck your body under. To sit correctly, make sure your feet can touch the floor and that your bottom is well back in the chair. Sit tall in your chair, maintain the normal curve of your spine. Use a rolled-up towel to support the small of your back if you need to. Your computer should be at eye level and your forearms must rest easily on the desk.
- Boost your happy hormones: mental illness is very common. One in five Australians aged 16 – 85 experience mental illness in any year. The most common of these illnesses are anxiety and depression. If you feel hopeless or worthless; have lost interest in previous activities; can’t concentrate; can’t sleep (or sleep too much); eat too much (or too little); or find yourself depending on that extra glass of wine, speak to your GP. You may have anxiety or depression. There are practical steps you can take to reclaim your joy as well as medications that can help.
Want to hear more from Dr Cris? Head to www.drcris.com.au.