In a world full of instant gratification, it can be incredibly frustrating when you don’t see immediate results as you work toward improving your health. Like all things, your health isn’t going to change overnight.
Slow and steady yields sustainable results
Take my own health, for example. In 2016, my HbA1c was 5.9.
HbA1c is a cellular marker that measures blood glucose levels. Typically, a number lower than 5.7 is considered “normal.” Anything above that, is often considered "pre-diabetic."
Elevated blood sugar is toxic to nearly all tissues in the body. The kidneys and the eyes are tissues which are most often affected first. There’s also a connection between insulin resistance and heart disease. Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart.
I have heart disease on both sides of my family, so I wasn’t happy with my lab markers and knew I needed to make some changes.
In two years, I was able to lower my blood glucose levels by five points, and over the course of five years (yes, you read that right, five years!) I was able to reduce my HbA1c to fall within (and continue to improve within) the optimal range of between 4.5 and 5.5.
Each year, I could see that I was moving in the right direction -- and that’s what was most important. The diet and lifestyle changes I was making were creating a positive impact and the longer I stuck with those changes, the more my body reaped the benefits, regardless of genetics and the fact I was aging.
The 1% principle
Even just committing to making small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on improving your health. This is most easily illustrated by the 1% principle:
Do nothing: 1.00 ^ 365 days = 1
Apply small amount of effort: 1.01^ 365 days = 37.8
In this example, increasing the effort you apply by just 1% a day, yields an annual growth of almost 38%. Now that's what I call a worthwhile return on your time investment!
Where to start?
For me, when I was trying to reduce my HbA1c, I made two key changes. I started making smoothies in the morning and introduced more plants into my diet. I also began exercising and meditating more consistently.
Drink your breakfast
I used to eat cereal and other starchy, processed or sugary foods for breakfast. I cut them all out and instead moved to making smoothies in the morning. Smoothies are typically made with fruits and vegetables, which are also rich in vitamins and nutrients that are great for sustainable energy and your body. My favorite breakfast blend right now is:
3 Kale leaves or ½ cup raw spinach,
½ green apple,
½ cup blueberries.
I usually add a bulb of raw garlic with a slice of fresh ginger root. Then I add hemp seed, chia seed, and or flax seed for protein with some non-dairy milk (coconut, hemp, almond, or macadamia).
Introduce more plants into your diet
Proper nutrition is essential for good health. Fruits, vegetables, greens, nuts and beans can be introduced in every meal, and as healthy snacks.
Raw foods (uncooked) can be especially beneficial for your body. Cooking can alter, and often destroy, the nutrients before we have the chance to ingest, absorb, or use any for our own bodies. So be sure to include whole foods in your diet.
What you eat is only part of your health equation. It’s important for our bodies to be active. Remember our 1% principle? You don’t have to go out and start training for a marathon, or even a 5K. Simple routine exercise, like stretching, or going for an hour walk, can make a big impact.
I like to walk in the morning, often with a friend. The movement is good for my body and the conversation is good for my mind and soul.
Mental health is incredibly important. Depression and anxiety can have such negative impacts on your physical well being. I find mindful breathing and guided meditations really help keep me in the present moment and tuned into what my body is telling me it needs.
Education is the foundation to your success
As you start to make these changes you become more aware of the processed foods in your diet AND you start to understand what other options are available to you. Education is an important part of your sustainable lifestyle plan.
Education is the foundation upon which you can build your new habits. New habits, repeated, become routine. Routine is what will allow your lifestyle change to become sustainable.
Education is a core belief of my business. I think it’s important, and I find joy in helping you unlock the mysteries and wonders of your body. As a functional medicine health coach, I can support your learning journey.
Combine new habits with old
You can help set yourself up for success by pairing the habits you’re trying to build with habits that are already in your routine.
For example, if you’re trying to drink more water. Set a water bottle next to your mugs so that when you reach to make your morning cup herbal tea, you also pour and drink a glass of water.
Need an accountability buddy?
I’m here to help you succeed in your health goals and coach you on how to make your success sustainable. I’d love to meet with you and learn more about your health challenges and goals.