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Succeeding with diet and lifestyle change

Why not set your goals and achieve them differently in the future?  A habit takes a good 30 days to change, so trying to achieve more than one small change at a time can be a mighty difficult thing.  How about setting yourself 12 new health-enhancing habits for the year ahead – one for each month?

What exactly should those new habits be?  Well, a lot will be dependent on your long term goals (i.e. losing 10kg, improving your health, reducing your stress load etc.).  Consider these goals and work backwards from there, giving thought to the changes required to help you achieve them.

I’m going to suggest 12 very basic but important life and health-enhancing changes, but you could come up with your own or apply them in a different order…

Month one

Drink enough good quality water.  Your weight in kg X 0.033 = your ideal daily water intake (not taking into account any sweat-inducing activities), e.g. 0.033 X 60kg = 1.98L.

Month two

Eat enough good quality salt.  Your daily water intake amount X 2.2 = your daily salt intake, e.g. 1.98L X 2.2 = 4.35ml salt (just short of one teaspoon daily).  Good quality salt would be Himalayan Crystal Salt (preferably the Universal Vision brand).

Month three

Add more fat to your diet, such as coconut fat, butter and cold-pressed nut oils.  They ensure better blood sugar control, improved inter-cellular communication, provide the body with long-term energy and help tremendously with weight management.  They will also rid you of sugar cravings.

Month four

Bring more raw food into your diet.  Aim for 30-50% raw intake with foods such as salads, smoothies, raw soups (look online), lightly steamed veggies and raw veggie juices.

Month five

Build more physical activity into your day through gardening, walking/cycling to and from shops/work, taking the stairs and not the lifts/escalators, walking the dog daily etc.

Month six

Learn to breathe properly!  Ask a yoga teacher to show you how it’s done.  This can dramatically improve your health (oxygenation of cells means more alkaline cells, which in turn means a reduction in the potential for disease states to occur).

Month seven

Get more sleep.  It is vitally important for good health and weight management, so aim for early-ish nights (10.00/10.30pm) and try for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a pitch-black environment.

Month eight

Reduce the amount of processed food (packaged, pre-cooked, preserved, flavoured or coloured) in your diet.  Start spending more time preparing and eating good quality, real food.

Month nine

Start thinking about the things you think about!  Mind management is one of the most challenging things to accomplish, but is undoubtedly the most important facet of good health.  Keep in mind just how potently our inner thoughts impact on our emotions, which in turn impact on our physical state.

Month ten

Eat your food in a relaxed environment to keep your parasympathetic system ‘switched on’ (this is the ‘rest and digest’ side of the nervous system).  You can do this by avoiding any stressful thoughts/environments/actions, so get used to sitting down and enjoying your meal.

Month 11

Chew your food until its liquid; this gives your body the time to recognise what enzymes are required to digest the food appropriately and to release them in the correct quantities.  It also increases the surface area of food, allowing your stomach acid to work more effectively (killing any pathogens present on your food and helping you absorb certain key nutrients from your meal).

Month 12

Stay relaxed about falling off the wagon.  It’s never a good idea to try and do things perfectly … instead, aim to incorporate some not-so-healthy habits every now and then.  After all, we live in a world full of temptations that promise great pleasure and frankly, life would be a little dull without giving in sometimes.  Don’t wait until Monday to go back to your healthy habits; every hour/meal/day can afford you great benefits, so throwing in the towel and despairing about your past choices isn’t going to get you anywhere closer to your goals. Above all, have fun and enjoy the process of becoming healthier…

Watch my video on how to improve your chances of succeeding with your goals.

Tanya Wyatt, Happy Valley pond

Tanya Wyatt

Tanya has written regularly for various health and fitness magazines such as Men’s Health, Marie-Claire, Cosmopolitan and Shape (she also served on the advisory board for Shape), as well as for local South Africa newspaper publications. In 2004, Tanya wrote two internationally released health and fitness-related books, both  published by New Holland. She recently wrote her third book, currently submitted to publishers for consideration.


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2021 Tanya Wyatt / The Happy Body