Recharge. Renew. Reset.
That’s what the transition from one year to another gives us a chance to do.
“As humans, we like the concept of a new start, particularly as a way to break bad habits and start anew,” says Dr. Krishna Sudhir, cardiologist and medical affairs vice president in Abbott’s vascular business. Although many cultures celebrate the New Year at different times, he says the solar-based, 12-month Western calendar has become part of our common psyche, “pretty much across the globe. January is clearly a new beginning, and allows us to rethink our priorities and set new goals.”
Rob Williams, a strength and performance coach at Abbott, puts it this way: “Just as the four seasons work in quarterly cycles, so do our bodies and our mindsets. Our mindsets are key because there is a certain level of ‘readiness’ we all need in order to embrace change more readily. The new year gives us a clean slate to work with — and a greater sense of clarity.”
Plenty of us make resolutions this time of year. So why not put a healthy spin on the turning of the calendar page? It’s never too early — or too late — to reset our habits and behaviors.
We asked experts from across Abbott to weigh in on five changes we can make, no matter where in the world we live, to become our best, healthiest selves in 2017. Here are five of their best tips.
1. Sleeep it Off
Both Abbott cardiologist Dr. Krishna Sudhir and strength and performance coach Rob Williams swear by the power of restorative sleep. That means at least 7 to 8 hours each night, Sudhir says — and that matters from a cardio standpoint. Sleep decreases stress and lowers blood pressure. Conversely, he says, sleep deprivation is now recognized as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
“Quality sleep not only impacts our cognitive and creative functions during our waking hours, but it also affect various hormones that can be making losing body fat and gaining lean metabolic boosting muscle very difficult,” adds Williams. And if you’re doing fitness training, it’s harder to recover when the body doesn’t receive quality sleep. “We as humans are not nocturnal creatures — meaning that our bodies were not designed to be awake at night. Before the advent of technology and business, we would rise with the sun and sleep when it set. We were meant to rest and rejuvenate in the dark. Setting and sticking to your new sleep schedule will help not only improve how you look, but you’ll feel much better during your waking hours.”
2. Focus on Serving Nutrient-Dense Food
Want to fuel a healthy lifestyle? “Make a resolution to eat more mindfully,” says Anna Jacob, the nutrition director for Abbott in Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia and an expert in nutrition for kids and seniors. “Offer fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fortified foods over energy-dense and nutrient-poor choices such as sodas, cookies and cakes.” No matter your age, “focus on selecting fresh and wholesome foods while trimming added salt and sugar from your regular choices. Fill the nutrient gaps in your diet with carefully selected supplements so you can stay strong as you age gracefully.”
3. Pump It Up
Keep your heart in good shape by boosting your exercise levels. Check first with your health professional, but if you can, work out four to five times each week for at least 40 minutes at a time, says Dr. Krishna Sudhir from Abbott’s vascular business. Regular exercise lowers your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes — and helps you manage your weight and reduces your obesity risk. Also, Sudhir says, the mental health benefits of exercising include reducing stress, preventing cognitive decline, alleviating anxiety, and even sharpening your memory. So take a walk, pound the pavement, hit the gym and swim some laps — it all helps your health and well-being.
4. Team Up With Someone Else
“It makes a huge difference if you are accountable to someone,” says Lynne Lyons, a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian from Abbott’s diabetes care business. “Have a shared health goal and commit to doing it together.”
Dr. Krishna Sudhir agrees. “Discussing your goals with friends and family is a good way of keeping on track,” he says. “This enables you to receive ongoing support and encouragement and the positive reinforcement that is essential to success.”
Better yet, says nutrition expert Anna Jacob, commit to being the “nutrition ambassador” in your family and social circles. “As you walk the talk, you will inspire and motivate others to eat better each day, and that will in turn reinforce your commitment to change.”
5. Take a Holistic Approach to Your Health
“Everything’s connected,” says diabetes educator Lynne Lyons. “It has to do with frame of mind. If people are feeling better about themselves and doing other healthy things — getting enough sleep, getting outside, doing a bit of exercise — you have a better chance of sticking to your goal if those other things are in place. It’s especially hard to make that shift after the holidays.
“But it terms of starting the year fresh, clean out your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer and throw away things that are expired, outdated and not the best health choice. Ideally, only put back those things that are aligned with your health goal.”