Urban Health’s Guide to a Healthy New Year in 2015

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With the holidays coming to an end, most of us may be feeling our clothes tighten around the waist from all of the delicious treats and alcohol consumed this month. No doubt, it’s been a pleasure to indulge, but we must not forget how important our health is!

Perhaps, New Year’s resolutions were designed to help combat the guilt of holiday indulgence, rather than truly shape the upcoming year. Either way, let’s get out of the holiday slump and get into healthy habits that will make us alert and ready to face the challenges ahead and reach our goals in 2015. Urban Health has compiled a list of the 5 resolutions we think will help transform your health this year. Though you might have heard (or made) these resolutions yourself before, we have some practical advice on how to implement these changes and finally make those healthy habits stick!

1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

bicycle-384566_1280 Why?
If you are anything like me, you probably feel much better the second you start getting into a good exercise routine. Exercise does not just give us a more appealing body and help to lose weight – it boosts our mood and energy reserves. Our minds, bodies and souls are all nurtured when we take the time to get our blood pumping on a regular basis.

First you should establish what sort of routine you would like to commit to, that best fits your goals and lifestyle. If you can get into a routine where you are working out with moderate to high intensity, at least 3 times each week, you will see a difference in your mood and energy levels. This type of routine is good for those of us who would like to keep fit.

If you would like to see extreme physical results like a set of abs, firm booty, or ripped biceps you might want to up your game, working out 5-6 times a week, and also increase intensity of your workouts every other week.

Once you know the type of workout style that you would like to commit to, it’s time to decide the sort of exercise you would like to do, where, and with whom. Many of us find that going to the gym seems like an appealing option, however it is all too common that we hear people simply paying the overpriced membership fees and then not showing up! If you find yourself falling into this rut it is probably best for you to join a class, if you are especially truant you might want to find one that will make you pay if you cancel – this will force you to be more accountable. Hiring A strict personal trainer might also compel you to show up out of fear!

Alternatively, if you can’t afford expensive gym fees or classes you can always workout in your living room with a circuit training video (We recommend Jillian Michaels and Shaun T’s Insanity, if you are feeling especially ambitious) or yoga tape or likewise go on a jog or hike outside. If this is the case, to help boost your accountability, find a work out buddy to train with. Track your results together, keep each other motivated, and build your friendship all at once.

2. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies – Fresh!

fruits-82524_1280 Why?
We all would like to have the perfect diet, and this frequently seems like a very daunting task. Though always eating healthy is certainly something to work toward, to completely re-shape every aspect of what you eat might not be the best place to start.

A great way to work toward a better diet is to first start incorporating the things that we know are healthy into our daily eating pattern, and of course, we all know that fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of a healthy diet. To clarify, when we say fruits and vegetables we DEFINITELY do not mean deep fried and it’s a plus if they are fresh and neither canned or frozen.

The nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables will help you in many ways. For starters, they will help give your skin a radiant glow. This is due to both the vitamins present, as well as the hydration you receive from fresh fruits and vegetables. Water in fruits and vegetables is the most superior of all as it is purified and filtered through the roots of plants.

Start by picking 3 fruits and vegetables each week you would like to incorporate into your diet more. You can switch it up each week depending on your mood. If you are a good cook you can whip these up into something delicious and healthy. If your cooking skills are lacking, invest in a blender and make some delicious smoothies. If your extra lazy, You might also find a healthy eating restaurant that you can eat at once or twice a week to get your fix in for the day.

The phenomenal thing about doing this, is that once you start to eat more fruits and vegetables you will actually begin to crave them in place of the junk food you once longed for! After a week or so into it, you might find yourself longing for a fresh orange instead of that ice cream carton you were clinging to before. Before you know it, these healthy cornerstones will begin replacing the pitfalls in your diet, or at least decreasing them.

3. Drink Less Alcohol, Drink More Water

drops-of-water-578897_1280 Why?
A stiff drink, tall beer, or glass of wine every now and then can be a great way to unwind and relax after a long week of hard work. However, when one turns into a few or more, you will find yourself reeling in regret and physical pain the next day. A great way to combat this is to of course, decrease your alcohol intake, and increase the amount of water you drink. Similar to fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking more water helps to improve your skin, lose weight, and detox your digestive systems.

Do your best to avoid the bars, try making plans with friends to do some non-drinking activities, so you don’t feel socially vacant. Try planning a picnic, quick trip to an island, a hike, go see a movie, play a sport, join a basket ball team, there are many options out there – find what you are most interested in and run with it. We frequently find ourselves substituting our true passions and interests with the comforts of drinking, or even worse never get to uncover them!

Though making an effort to get more involved in non-drinking hobbies is great, we will still at times find ourselves with a drink in hand. Therefore, it is important to have strategies to cope. The more water you drink the less negative the impacts are when you ingest alcohol. For each drink you have at the bar try to couple it with a glass of water. If you find yourself running to the bathroom too many times, this may be your queue to stop drinking. You can also try chugging a liter at the end of the night – this definitely helps your body to rehydrate after depleting its aquatic resources, and hopefully avoid the dreaded hangover.

Don’t just limit your water intake to when you are drinking; make an effort to drink water throughout the day, every day. A good place to start is to chug one liter in the morning, and one at night time. Getting into this habit will keep you fresh and hydrated every day. Also, instead of drinking juice and sodas just strictly drink water, though you can surely keep on having coffee and tea, skip the sugar.

4. Spend Time Outdoors

forest-505860_1280 Why?
Many of us spend our days caged inside of offices of one sort or another breathing stale air from frequently filthy air conditioning systems. We then step out of the office, only to have a whiff of exhaust fumes or garbage scents carried our way. This dirty air can burn our eyes, wreck our skin, and leave us feeling like a miserable caged bird.

If we take the time to venture out to fresher parts, with cleaner air, this will invigorate us and help us to feel free again. Additionally, the sun rays we get will give us a boost of vitamin

D and help to boost our mood. Spending time in nature reconnects us to our roots, we become more environmentally aware and begin to appreciate the animals and plants with which we share our world.

Perhaps you are looking for some activities to substitute your drinking? Try planning a hike over the weekend, bright and early. This way you can have a good excuse to avoid the bars and also make the time to see the beautiful parts of nature.

If you are living in Hong Kong, you are probably aware of the vast amounts of nature out there for you to explore. Beautiful islands and mountain ranges await, if you haven’t gone for a hike here yet, get out there! The great part of this city is how interwoven the urban and jungle landscapes are. Right in your backyard are waterfalls, and terrific views for you to explore. Join a group on meetup.com or there are others as well perhaps through work or Facebook.

We recommend the Urban Health Hiking Group, you can join here.

5. Sleep More

cat-590684_1280 Why?
It is all too common to fall into the habit of not getting enough shut-eye at night. Pressures from work and pressing late night matters can keep us from getting enough rest. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night can greatly benefit your health. Benefits include, better skin (no more bags under the eyes and decreasing wrinkles), helps fight chronic pain, weight loss, increased mood, less risk of injury, clearer thinking, better memory, and increased immunity to diseases. If these aren’t enough reasons for you to sleep more, we don’t know what are!

So, you’ve decided you want to get more sleep but aren’t sure where to start. Firstly you should set times when you will stop certain activities. For example, say, no work after 8:30, no eating past 9, no coffee after 3pm, etc. Knowing when to stop certain activities helps our body to disengage and begin to relax. If you just can’t get to bed early, dedicate time for naps to help compensate your lack of sleep, power naps have proven to be extremely helpful in reenergizing us throughout the day.

When preparing for bed, you should also do some things you know relax you. Try taking a hot bath or shower, listening to some relaxing instrumental music, drinking a cup of chamomile tea, or purchasing some comfortable bedding to keep you cozy. If you have trouble shutting off your mind take a natural supplement like melatonin, many have found

this helps them to naturally sleep without the hangovers and strange side effects of some prescription sleeping pills.

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