Written by Dr. Olivia Rose, ND
It is the New Year! As you sit down to create your goals for the year, you might feel excited and motivated. However, in the coming weeks these feelings may start to dwindle, and feelings of disappointment may set is if you’re not accomplishing your goals as you set out to at the start of the year. To set yourself up for success, it’s important to realize that motivation cannot be your only driving force, as it can change from day to day. Consistency and routine are the keys to the implementation of long-term goals and when it comes to setting and achieving your health goals, this definitely reigns true.
Create a Healthy Foundation
First, start with the basics and choose realistic goals. Here a few key foundations to better health:
- Increase water intake
- Move your body daily
- Consume 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily
- Get 8 hours of sleep each night
- Incorporate stress reduction practices such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing, journaling, drawing, painting
- Take your supplements each day
Which Supplements to Choose
It can be overwhelming to choose the right supplements to add into your routine. Therefore, it is best to see a qualified healthcare practitioner to receive individualized advice. However, adding in a high-quality multivitamin can be a great place to start. Ensure that your multivitamin is geared towards your sex and age as men and women have different physiologic needs, and these needs change with age.
To start your year off with a healthy immune system, add in vitamin C and. Many individuals in North America do not have an adequate intake of fruits and vegetables in their diet to reach the desired levels of vitamin C.1Young children and teens especially may benefit from a vitamin C supplement.
Zinc is another essential mineral, and many individuals don’t get enough of it. In fact, 10-35% of Canadians consumed inadequate amounts.2 Zinc helps to support a healthy immune system by preventing the virus from multiplying in the body.3You can get zinc naturally from meat and vegetables, but it’s also important to consider that vegetables rich in zinc also contain high amounts of phytates and oxalated – compounds which decrease the absorption of zinc.4
Beta-glucans are another component to look for in a supplement geared to support the function of the immune system. These polysaccharides are found in cell walls of mushrooms and yeasts such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Glucans are part of a group of biologically active natural molecules with immune-stimulating function.5
Get into a Routine
To set up your routine, focus on incorporating one goal at a time. Once you’ve successfully incorporated that goal you can stack another one onto it. For example, maybe you start by increasing your water intake. Each morning, you start your day by having a large glass of water. After one week of this action, you can start to take your daily supplements along with your large glass of water. Now you’ve accomplished two goals!
An action will not become a routine right away, so in the beginning, you may forget if you do not plan ahead or set a reminder. It can be helpful to use tools such as sticky notes or alarms to remind yourself. Perhaps you label your wake-up alarm on your phone “Remember to drink water”. Planning ahead can also help you stay consistent in the early stages. If you are trying to remember to take your daily supplement along with your water, set out the supplements the night before beside your water glass. Taking the supplement then becomes an automatic action once you remember the water. After a few weeks of the same action, you might not need all the reminders and planning, and voila! Your goal has become routine.
A rewards system is a great way to create some external motivation when you are starting to build a habit. For example, if you go on a walk 5 out of 7 days of the week for one month, perhaps you reward yourself with a new scarf to keep you warm on the morning walks.
Remember your Why
Lastly, remembering the why behind your goal is important. If you are going on a daily walk so you can be more limber while playing with your grandchildren, this is a great internal motivator to move you on the days you do not feel like going out to walk.
Creating new routines is a difficult task, the mind and body take time to adjust to change, especially if you have other habits and routines ingrained in your daily actions. Remember to be patient with yourself and if you forget or do not follow through with your goal one day, continue on the next day. Consistency is more important than perfection.
- Brule, S., McDonald, H., & McDiarmid, C. (2019, February 21). Fruit and vegetable consumption, 2017. Statistics Canada. Retrieved February 1, 2022, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2019001/article/00004-eng.htm
- Health Canada; Canadian Community Health Survey (2012). Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone? Retrieved June 22, 2017 from https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/migration/hc-sc/fn-an/alt_formats/pdf/surveill/nutrition/com...
- Science, M., Johnstone, J., Roth, D. E., Guyatt, G., & Loeb, M. (2012). Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184(10). https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.111990
- Maxfield L, Shukla S, Crane JS. Zinc Deficiency. [Updated 2021 Nov 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493231/
- Akramienė D, Kondrotas A, Didžiapetrienė J, Kėvelaitis E. Effects of ß-glucans on the immune system. Medicina. 2007 Aug;43(8):597.