Give Yourself the Gift of Optimal Health in 2022
Florence Comite MDJan 14, 2022
If you look at what most folks would like as we begin the New Year, “New year, new you” as a resolution clearly tops the list as a way to reverse the acute damage caused by holiday overindulgence. Gym memberships go through the roof in January as people do just that. But what if you don’t have to? What if it’s about drilling into what makes you, you?
This year, why not make it your mission to figure out all the bits and bytes, own your health and even stop aging, reverse weight gain, get healthy, feel stronger with more energy, and above all, feel amazing – despite blowing out another candle on your birthday cake? I’m here to tell you that you can do exactly that.
Here’s the bad news: All the health stuff you read is not directed precisely at you, and will not make an iota of difference to your life long healthspan. It’s true! Most data is about averages, a ‘one size fits all’ approach that leaves you and even your doctors ill-equipped to truly help you to get healthy!
Yet, do not despair, there is good news! You can unequivocally capture the optimal health we all want to live and enjoy life to the fullest for all the days of our life. The path lies within yourself. So, if it’s more energy you want, less fat, more muscle, or reversal of diabetes, high blood pressure or your risk of cancer, the answer lies in one simple act: tracking.
After all, you can resolve to train for a marathon, and get up earlier to hit the gym in the morning, but let’s be sure your blood pressure is within range and you’re not sleep-deprived. And, how can you really know if you’re improving if you don’t know where your metrics are starting? Welcome to the world of N-of-1, where you are the only subject. Let’s dig in.
If you do only one thing for yourself this year, it should be to get quality sleep. Research has shown how the effects of insufficient sleep range from poor academic and athletic performance to social anxiety and even weight gain. Conventional medicine suggests that at least seven hours of sleep per night is needed, but this number actually varies from person to person, so you may need more or less sleep depending on your genetic and biological makeup. We suggest using a wearable like FitBit or Oura to establish your sleep baseline and help you make informed decisions about your sleep cycle.
Track your eating and drinking
If you are counting calories, stop! Keeping an eye on your food should be about making you accountable for your choices, rather than obsessing about every morsel. For example, if you eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast but you’ve got your hand in the cookie jar by 10am, think about adjusting the macronutrients by adding some protein that will keep your sugar and insulin level, and keep you satiated until lunch. The same goes for alcohol. Simply seeing it in black and white helps you to identify where you are overindulging, and what needs to change.
Drink more water
Have a glass of the good stuff right after waking up and before every meal, and you’ll soon see the difference. Staying well hydrated improves your mood, keeps your joints lubricated, benefits your skin, keeps your digestive system moving, and promotes weight loss. Keeping track of the changes you see will motivate you to make this a lifelong habit.
It’s an oft-repeated myth that you need to get 10,000 steps a day. If you have a desk-bound job it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve this, and regularly falling short will leave you deflated. Instead, tailor your step targets to what is normal for you. Similarly, if you have an active job you’ll smash 10,000 steps daily, but that doesn’t preclude you from doing other activities. The best form of exercise is one that you enjoy and that you will do every day without it feeling like a chore. Gardening, roller skating, walking the dog, even housework counts. You don’t have to be running and deadlifting, not at all. Team sports, fitness classes and the like are good social experiences too, which contributes to our mental wellbeing.
Keep a journal
Writing down what you do and how you feel on a daily basis will help you to identify what you need to change. If time is challenging this can be a few bullet points on your phone or a tiny notepad, or even a voice note. Perhaps you regularly wake up tired, so end up grabbing a less than healthy breakfast on the go as you rush into work, leading to unhealthy choices later. Going to bed a little earlier, or prepping meals in advance on a weekend can help you to avoid this. Keep track of your daily routine and your targets for change will soon become clear.
Reduce screen time
Spending too much time in front of a screen is known to negatively affect cognitive functioning such as recall and memory, even mood and attitude, as well as sleep quality. Ditching the doom-scrolling will benefit your sense of well-being and give you more time to connect with those around you. Definitely find a way to put the phone in a different room at bedtime, better yet, a couple of hours prior (unless of course you’re on call like me, and must have that cell within reach – leave it face down though!)
Measure your health metrics
Investing in a home blood pressure monitor, blood oximeter, or a wearable CGM are all ways you can track your data to find out what is normal for you. Using a reliable health app such as the Groq Health app will allow you to take ownership of your health journey and make improvements. The Groq Health App allows you to own your current and future health trajectory and attain optimal health for life with choices that are personal for you.
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