Have you set an intention to make better choices around diet and exercise in the New Year? Kudos for recognizing a change needs to be made and committing to it! As you begin to adopt healthier New Year behavior, remember that change is a process. Be kind and patient with yourself. It takes about six weeks for a new behavior to become ingrained in our lifestyle, whether it’s exercising, eating more veggies, or limiting sugar.
Success involves creating plans for moving forward, as well as for for managing those inevitable setbacks. Here are some simple strategies to help you achieve your goals.
Know Your Why. Write down why you want to adopt a particular health behavior or change a poor one. Motivation is an important predictor of behavior, so be honest with yourself. Think deeper than just wanting to fit into smaller clothes – examine how you want to feel when you achieve that goal. Connecting emotion to your “why” strengthens your motivation and willingness to stick to the goal: I’ll feel healthier and stronger and more confident when I lose weight and fit into a smaller size.
Find Your Tribe. Enlist the support of loved ones, friends, and co-workers. Working toward a goal together provides social support that makes it easier (and more fun) to stick with making the change. You might start by telling the people closest to your goal for a healthier New Year and why you’ve set this goal. Ask people for specific help: When you see me reach for a third cookie, please say something. Tell people what you need as you start and keep them updated as you progress.
Have a Plan and Be Flexible. Anything you want to achieve isn’t about finding the time, it’s about making the time – and that’s a choice in your power. Look at your daily and weekly routines to identify blocks of time when you can exercise or prepare meals in advance. It may mean getting up 20 minutes earlier or getting off social media. Do it. Make actual appointments with yourself and keep them. Planning also means knowing your environment – at home, work and play – and being aware of triggers that could put you off course. Examples: bring your lunch instead of going out; take a walk before eating; reduce temptation by removing sugary snacks from the house; shop for food mindfully, staying in the outside aisles of the store where the food is typically healthier. And be flexible: life happens and things will get in the way. Those are temporary shifts. Get right back to your health routine the following day or as soon as possible.
Set Reasonable Goals. If you need to get up earlier to exercise, don’t start with an hour – start with ten minutes. Every five days increase by five minutes until you’re awake early enough to do the kind of workout that you want. Starting with small, reasonable goals makes them more attainable and gives you a sense of achievement. And that’s important when you’re first making a behavior change. Every small success builds up to bigger achievements.
Celebrate! In your plan, note the markers at which you’ll celebrate success. Incorporate a small reward for weekly successes and a bigger reward for milestones (e.g., 3 weeks of exercising daily, or losing the first five pounds). Rewards need not be expensive; rather, make them meaningful for you – and not food based unless you’re going out to a great new vegan restaurant.
With a nutrient profile similar to kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, arugula is an excellent alternative to these other cruciferous vegetables. Its distinctive, almost peppery flavor, makes arugula easy to enjoy and you’ll easily boost the flavor and health power of a meal when you add in this Mediterranean leafy green.
Arugula is high in the following vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin C, A, and K: these antioxidants play a role in protecting cells from free radical damage (oxidation). Vitamins A and C also support a healthy immune system. Vitamin K is involved in the body’s blood clotting process and plays a role in bone health, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
Folate (a B vitamin): supports the production of DNA and is very important in a healthy pregnancy and fetal development.
Calcium and potassium: minerals that have many functions in the body. Both are involved in producing strong muscle contraction. Calcium is important to bone and tooth health. Potassium, an electrolyte, is essential for healthy heart and nerve function and it helps maintain healthy sodium levels in the body.
Add arugula to a salad, rice and other grains, or use in your main meal in lieu of parsley or other herbs. With its lovely leaf shape, flavor and edible flowers, arugula can add pizzazz to many dishes.
Arugula, Apple & Pecan Salad
In this simple, seasonal and healthy salad, peppery arugula is combined with crisp apples, toasted pecans, red onion, and dried cranberry. A vibrant lemon vinaigrette complements this flavorful plant-based dish. It’s a perfect beginning to your lunch or dinner. To make it a main dish, consider adding crumbled goat cheese, white beans, chickpeas, or tofu for your favorite protein. Serves 4.
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 7 ounces arugula (organic when possible)
- 2 small apples (1 tart, 1 sweet, peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise)
- 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
- 2 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)
- 1 large lemon, juiced (1 lemon yields ~3 Tbsp or 45 ml)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
- 1 pinch each sea salt + black pepper
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and arrange pecans on a bare baking sheet.
- Bake pecans for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and deep golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
- While pecans are toasting, prep remaining salad ingredients and add to a large mixing bowl.
- Prepare dressing in a mixing bowl or mason jar by adding all ingredients and whisking or shaking vigorously to combine. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
- Add pecans to salad and top with dressing. Toss to combine and serve immediately. Serves two as an entrée and four as a side.
- Store leftovers (dressing separate from salad) covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days (though best when fresh). Dressing should keep at room temperature for 2-3 days when well sealed.
Co-enzyme Q10: Vital to Energy Production in the Body
Very rarely is a substance so important – and prevalent – in the human body as is Co-enzyme Q10. As critical as it is, however, our body’s ability to make CoQ10 peaks at about age 21 and steadily declines as we age. By the time most of us are in our 80’s, our natural source of CoQ10 has declined by 60-65%. Stress, medical conditions and drug interactions, especially statin drugs, can contribute to its depletion. While foods such as beef, pork, chicken, organ meats and fatty fish are good sources of CoQ10, it’s nearly impossible for our diet alone to make up for loss from age-related or external factors.
Here’s why maintaining healthy levels of CoQ10 is important: it plays a role in fueling the energy production mechanism in every cell of our body and helps maintain optimal functioning of heart muscle and blood vessel walls. As a potent antioxidant, it protects the integrity of the cells, keeping oxidative stress at bay – essential for bolstering the cells against disease and the aging process. Research shows CoQ10 benefits people who are in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. It also has been shown to improve the symptoms of congestive heart failure in some patients.
Signs of CoQ10 deficiency can vary tremendously from person to person and may include fatigue, muscle pains and / or spasms, joint pain, headache, frequent and long-lived illness and poor memory. There are tests available to check CoQ10 levels. If you’re deficient, consider taking a supplement. An interesting fact: because CoQ10 is present in just about all body tissue, the scientific name of the supplement is ubiquitous Quinone, or Ubiquinone.
There are two forms of CoQ10 supplements: Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol, both of which are generally recognized as safe for adults. Ubiquinone is the most studied form in all research prior to 2006. Ubiquinol was developed to offer the same benefits as its predecessor but with greater stability in capsule form – the preferred form used by most people. The ability to produce and absorb CoQ10 changes with age and health status. Talk with Dr. Fenske about the the amount and form best suited to your needs.