New Year Resolutions
The holistic M.D. perspective
New Africa | shutterstock.com
The New Year is here, and people are making resolutions toward a healthier lifestyle. Many patients ask me for tips or steps for how to get started, and I wish it was as simple as everyone taking the same magic pill that would take our troubles away and cleanse us from our transgressions of the previous years. In reality, holistic medicine envisions revamping your lifestyle as much of a spiritual journey as it is a physiological process. We are encouraged to identify the parts of self which require a reset and proceed to address all these aspects, one by one, as much as is sustainable for a person. The most important lifestyle factors we address are:
Sleep & Relaxation
Emotional fitness, including the way the person handles stress
Spiritual health, including relationships with friends, family, and the higher conscience/G-d.
The key here is that for every change we are planning to make, we must take into consideration not only the patient herself or himself but also her or his family and friends. Without these people’s participation, New Year lifestyle-changing resolutions will not be sustainable.
For example, it is very difficult to stop drinking alcohol if your best friend is an alcoholic who is not on board with going sober. If you have made a resolution to quit smoking but are married to a smoker, your chances of failing are higher. If you are trying to eat better but spend most of your time around obese individuals who are not in the same frame of mind, your chances of resetting your lifestyle are slimmer. You get the idea.
While getting ready for Hurricane Ian, I was shopping for non-perishable foods for no electricity scenarios, and while throwing bags of chips into my shopping basket, I caught myself thinking that it has probably been at least 25 years since I ate such processed things. When it comes to healthy eating and preaching this lifestyle to my patients, I try to walk the walk and it hurts to realize that there are many people out there who still eat processed foods daily because this is what their environment fosters. It comes down to education rather than socio-economic status to explain why people are brought up to make the wrong nutritional choices.
In fact, in the analysis of 27 studies from ten countries, it was found that eating healthier fresh foods costs just $1.56 more /day based on a whopping 2,000-calorie diet. So, I believe that social cohesion around eating the healthy way is critical here. Make sure that you and your loved ones are eating better this year. Get educated. Speak to your doctor about it.
Also, make sure to pay attention to sleep quality improvement. How is sleeping better this year going to benefit you besides the obvious feeling more well-rested? Good sleep helps us to lose weight, helps us to cope with pain better, improves our immune system, and decreases the inflammatory burden for the body by giving it time to detox. Once again, your partner who shares your bed has to help you stick with your New Year’s new routine for getting better quality sleep.
And of course, we must emphasize the importance of building strong and meaningful relationships this year. Belonging to a caring social network of people—whether it’s a religion or spirituality-based group—will prolong your life and decrease your risk for depression, suicide, and substance use.
So let your inner beauty shine through this year and always by leading a healthy and meaningful life, which incorporates feeding your cells with healthy food, moving your body with some kind of exercise that feels right to you, sleeping well, practicing a good relaxation technique you can relate to, and spending time with your tribe.
Dr. Kogan is a Concierge Holistic Internal Medicine doctor in Naples. For more information, please visit CustomLongevity.com or call 239.676.6883.