As we enter a new year, we are presented with a fresh start and new chapter in our life. We should reflect on how we wish the new chapter of our life will read and reanalyze our commitments to God, our family, our community, and to ourselves. Most of us aspire for a purer and more profound experience, but many in our culture have given up on making New Year’s Resolutions for fear of feeling like a failure. Regardless of your past years' experiences, I believe it’s God’s will that we continue renewing and elevating our goals and aspirations each new year. “Shall we not, at the beginning of this new year, give ourselves and all we have to God? Shall we not listen to His voice, which calls us to a renewed contest, to a more thorough consecration of ourselves and our entrusted capabilities to His service?” (The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1901)
In light of making New Year’s Resolutions, let’s review some health principles that can help us in our pursuit of a healthy mind and body.
Sleep: We have heard that obtaining 7-8 hours of rest is vital to health and wholeness. Getting less or even more can be detrimental. Sleep cannot be replaced with any amount of exercise or nutrition and supplements. Melatonin is the hormone that drives our circadian rhythm and is responsible for restorative sleep. To improve your sleep, avoid eating 3-4 hours prior to bedtime, avoid utilizing your phone and other bright screens or light devices in bed, and set a comfortable temperature in your bedroom. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try adopting a bed-time routine for 3 weeks to re-train your body to relax and prepare for sleep. This routine may include taking a warm bath, listening to relaxing music, dimming the lights, or using an essential oil, such as lavender, and herbal teas such as chamomile tea.
Nutrition: Let’s face it, eating provides a certain level of satisfaction. Sometimes, however, we eat because we seek “instant gratification.” A piece of candy, cake, or donut in the middle of the morning or late afternoon brings with it a sudden sugar rush, a perceived gush of energy and “euphoria”. To avoid the temptation for an unhealthy treat, pack your meals with nutritious plant-based protein, fats, fiber, and fruit-based sugars for long-lasting fuel. Additionally, try to avoid a large carbohydrate-heavy lunch or dinner, which can lead to indigestion, fatigue, and poor sleep. Incorporate at least 5 cups of vegetables per day, focusing on dark leafy greens as well as 2-3 cups of fruits per day for healthy sugar, fiber, and vitamins. Setting a schedule for meal times and planning and prepping for your weekly meals can help offset the chances of going through the drive-thru.
Hydration: Water composes the majority of our body and is important for multiple reasons. It flushes and detoxifies our kidneys, liver, and intestines. It helps sustain blood volume, breathing, brain function, digestion, and joint mobility. Drinking 8 ounces of water can also curb your appetite, invigorate your energy and improve concentration. The recommended amount of water intake is between 2-3 liters daily. If you drink 1L or less per day, it’s best to increase your water intake slowly by adding 16 fluid ounces every few days. If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding herbs or lemon to make your taste buds happy.
Exercise: Moderate walking is a relaxing leisure activity, however, it does not engage your core muscles, or activate and challenge your heart. The goal of physical activity is to improve circulation, muscle tone, oxygenation, induce purification through sweating and so much more. There are many types of exercises to choose from depending on your age and physical and health condition. It’s best to start with a low-intensity exercise routine and increase the repetitions and intensity every two weeks. In order to avoid injuries and setbacks, it’s best to obtain proper exercise techniques that are right for you through the help of an exercise instructor, coach, physical therapist, or health provider.
Sunshine: Sunlight offers many advantages to our health. It provides the power to generate Vitamin D in our body, it aids in the secretion of happy hormones in our brain and nervous system, it helps disinfect our skin and household surfaces, and offers warmth and light. In our busy schedule, making time to be in direct contact with the sun can be a challenge, but not impossible. In the coming year, reflect on how spending time in the sun and with the SON can improve your health and well-being.
So what are some of your New Year’s Resolutions? It may be to read the Bible through in a year; to have consistent personal and family devotions; doing acts of community service or beginning a special ministry; spending less time with media and entertainment and more time with family and church. Let’s also set healthy goals for the coming year and ask God for sustaining grace in the process of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service during 2018 (Romans 12:1).