New Year Shake-Up
As we usher in the new year, it is time to kick our bad habits, declutter and embrace our true potential
YOUR HEALTH Encourage Bacteria
Struggling to lose those extra pounds? Your gut bacteria – or lack of it – could be to blame. Having a diversity of “good” bacteria not only improves digestion, it can also help to reduce food cravings – and weight – according to The British Journal Of Nutrition. Nutritionist Rob Hobson advises: “Eat foods such as probiotic yoghurt, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus.”
Focus On Why
“If you want to lose weight, focus on why,” says psychologist Dr Aria. “Is it to be healthier, more confident or energised? Your goal must be meaningful to you – not just to please someone else.”
Try Something New
Reassess your current fitness routine. Does your workout match your fitness goals and bring you joy? Do you look forward to the next workout and still feel challenged? If the answer is no, it may be time to add a new move, try a new class or start from scratch an exciting regimen that motivates you to get moving.
Schedule A Blood Test
We get reminders for routine tests such as mammograms, cervical smears, eye and dental checks, but do not forget about blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose tests as well.
“These check for heart disease and diabetes risk factors that increase with age and usually do not cause symptoms, so even if you feel well, have them at least every two to three years,” advises GP Dr Sarah Brewer.
Refresh Your First-Aid Kit
Pharmacist Sultan Dajani advises checking the dates on medicines: “Out-of-date eye drops can cause infections, cough mixtures can lead to stomach upsets, and tablets may stop working,” he says. “Keep them in a dry, airtight place out of reach of children – never in the bathroom or kitchen as humidity will damage them.”
“Incorporate high-intensity exercise into your workout,” recommends Dr Aria. “Doing so in 30-second bursts can boost the ability of cells to produce energy by 50 to 70 per cent – a process that naturally declines with age.”
Check Your Skin
Keeping an eye on any skin changes like new moles or old moles that have changed is essential – and easily done with apps. SkinVision (skinvision.com)
lets you take a photo of the spot, get a risk assessment, then store photos and reminders so you can track any changes. If you are worried about a mole and do not have the time to get to your GP, try the Firstcheck app (firstcheck.me). The app lets you submit photos of your skin concern to a registered skin specialist and they will get back to you within 72 hours.
YOUR HOME Tackle Clutter
If the mess is getting out of control, set aside a day or so and divide everything into categories such as paperwork, clothes, books and sentimental items, suggests home organiser Kate Ibbotson.
“With each item, ask yourself: ‘Does this add value to my life? Is it useful or beautiful?’ Divide them into piles according to whether you are going to keep it, recycle it, give it to the charity shop, repair or repurpose it.”
Use colour to enhance the look and feel of your home, suggests journalist, blogger and colour enthusiast Martha Roberts (thecolourfile.com).
“Colour can make a huge difference in how we feel. Choose colours that you love. If you are nervous about committing to lots of colour, start with neutral walls and grouping of colourful objects.”
Organise Your Food
“Go through your refrigerator, freezer and kitchen cupboards, throwing out anything off or out-of-date. Put the most nutritious foods at the front and the less healthy foods out of sight. In one study, people ate 80 per cent fewer chocolates when they were stored in opaque bowls compared with clear ones,” says Dr Aria.
Be Smart About Storage
Colour can make a huge di erence in how we feel
“Choose furniture that has a storage function such as ottomans with compartments or a coffee table with drawers,” suggests Kate. “Also, utilise the height of the room, with tall storage units attached to walls.”
Grow Herbs In Your Kitchen
“Having fresh herbs on hand whenever you want is a fantastic way to inspire healthy dishes, plus research shows that indoor plants reduce stress and improve your mood,” says Dr Aria.
Organising consultant Marie Kondo (konmari.com) has nailed the art of folding clothes. Take a top, lay it flat and fold it inwards from both sides, making a rectangle.
Next, fold it in half lengthways, then again into thirds lengthways, making a compact bundle.
“If the item is folded correctly, it will stand up,” says Marie. Stack together in drawers to maximise space.
Review Your Friendships
Professor Suzanne Degges-White, co-author of Toxic Friendships, says when it comes to friends, it is quality, not quantity, that matters. Negativity in relationships can drain you and add unnecessary stress to your life.
“A rewarding friendship involves mutual understanding, trust and no envy or jealousy. If you always feel low or drained after meeting someone, it is absolutely not healthy. For the sake of your own emotional health, you may want to consider letting go.”
When we try to multi-task, we make 50 per cent more errors – and take 50 per cent longer – than when we do tasks sequentially, according to Dr John Medina in his book, Brain Rules.
Audit Your Life
Life coach Jennifer Boon (booncoaching. com) advises drawing a circle and dividing it into eight sections to represent these areas of your life: Health, friends and family, significant other, career, money, personal growth, fun and leisure, and home environment Score each area out of 10 for satisfaction, then draw another circle inside it, with the line crossing each segment at a level representing the relevant number. A well balanced life results in a perfect circle. The shape of the inner circle will show you the areas that still need attention.
Learn To Mind Map
Our brains think in pictures, says Tony Buzan, author of Mind Map Mastery. Replace to-do lists with a diagram drawn through patterns of association.
“It has been proven to boost memory and creativity, and can help you focus better,” he says.
De-stress In An Instant
Hypnotherapist Georgia Foster has devised the “S breath” for tension relief:
“Inhale through your nose with your mouth closed and hold for a moment. Then exhale with a hissing sound, making sure your belly comes back in. The exhaled breath is longer and relieves stress.”
A study at the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center that involved nearly 1,400 women found that those who participated in a minimum of 10 leisure activities in the previous month had a more positive mindset, lower levels of stress hormones and depression, and even slimmer waists compared to those who had not!