My 2019 Resolutions
Updated: Jan 16, 2019
Now it is officially 2019. As it is often the case, I usually have my new year's resolutions. Some I fulfill and others I completely forget that I even made them. This year I am hopeful that I may be able to keep them. The reason being, I have an emotional reason to keep them. What is that reason - you may ask - it is to be alive and healthy to see my young daughter grow up and since I have just started my new practice, I need to practice what I preach. Why emotional? It has been noted that humans are not necessarily the most logical beings and that includes me. Based on this article on Psychology Today, it takes emotions and not facts to change a habit. On top of that according to this study, albeit small, it takes an average of 66 days, with a large variation of up to 250 days for that change to stick. For that reason, I am challenging myself to 66 days of sticking to my resolutions. Good luck to me.
Here are the list of my 2019 resolutions:
1. Eat plant based and whole food
If you look at all the longest living healthy people, they usually have a non processed and plant based diet. One of the larger studies by Harvard scientists provide an insight to this. We also know that people who live in the Blue Zones consume a lot of whole food and plant product. One of the leading researchers of the human diet in relation to health, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, of Cornell University's Center for Nutrition Studies have also published numerous articles about the benefits of a whole food and plant based nutrition.
So far, I have not missed or eaten any animal products since the New Year. It has been easier than I thought. I am encouraged to cook more at home and having a supportive family, who are also doing the change with me, makes it so much easier. Living in Portland, OR also makes it a lot easier as there are a lot of healthy plant based options in food establishments.
I also feel that since I have slowly become more cognizant of this habit in the last few years, I have changed my diet slowly in the past year. So removing dairy, processed food and some of the animal products that I have been consuming, was relatively easy.
2. Start intermittent fasting and eating the bulk of my food in the morning
Although most of the studies on intermittent fasting are on animals and the jury is still out there, I believe based on the studies I've reviewed, that this might be potentially beneficial without causing harm on myself. There are multiple ways to do this and I've picked the 16/8 method, which means I am consuming food only in 8 hours of the 24 hour period. I don't feel I can fast longer than 16 hours and I feel that I was close to doing this already.
Based on a recent lecture I heard from the Cleveland Clinic Conference on Longevity, author of What to Eat When, Dr. Michael Crupain discussed the benefits of consuming most of one's calories earlier in the day. Again, most of these studies are on animals but I don't believe it is personally harmful for me to embark on this.
The first 3 days were challenging but I'm now doing great. I don't crave any of the midnight snacks I used to consume. Early on, I would tell myself not to eat at night so I can be rewarded with a sumptuous breakfast. That mind trick actually worked for me. Initially, I thought it would be challenging to not have a big dinner but consuming more food earlier during breakfast and lunch, seem to have quelled my appetite in the evening.
3. Exercise more
The surgeon general recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. Not only will this be good for weight maintenance or loss, exercise especially walking is beneficial for our brains. Exercise increases your endorphin levels and hence may help with depression. I also feel that this may be a good way to socialize with friends and family as my main method of exercise is brisk walking. I have been hiking with friends and family all around Portland, rain or shine. I try to walk to my office when I can as well. When I do have time, I go to the gym and swim. I do a lot of household chores as well.
People often think that exercise needs to be regimented. Doing chores in the house and garden, and avoiding sitting for long periods of time actually are helpful for our health. According to the Blue Zones author Dan Buettner, "The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work."
4. Socialize more with happy people
Based on this Framingham study, happiness and habits are contagious among social networks. They say that happiness and health can be a collective phenomenon.
On top of that, social isolation seems to be connected to disease. We know from an old saying that no man is an island and this seems to be true in most studies on social isolation to date.
What have I done so far? I have reached out to family and friends more often. I have made it a point to meet up with them more often either by hiking together, going to the movies, or just having a girls' day out. I have strived to have family meals together even with my extended family. I also try to be happy myself and be a good influence in my social network.
5. Travel more
I love to travel. I feel that I learn more and my views have become more nuanced the more I travel. This is one of the things that I enjoy immensely especially if I do it with loved ones and friends. This is also one way that I relieve stress.
I have yet to travel this year but have major plans to go back to my hometown if everything goes as planned.
I have a few more resolutions that I am going to share in the next installment of this article that hopefully other people may want to emulate. Have a great 2019 folks.