As 2022 makes its departure, it is once again that time when we are bombarded with articles and posts espousing the merits of New Year’s resolutions. Rest assured, there is none of that pressure here. I’d like to encourage setting intentions as you look ahead.
How many times have you made New Year’s resolutions, only to hit a bump in the road and abandon your goals shortly after?
Instead of making a sweeping, generalized statement or resolution this year, I challenge you to instead set INTENTIONS for the year ahead. What are your big goals? Do you want to be able to run in a 5k? Have more energy to keep up with your kids? Improve overall fitness or clean up your diet?
By breaking down big goals into actionable, smaller steps and habit shifts, you will soon come to realize how seamlessly positive, impactful change can weave its way into your daily life.
I am constantly assessing my own health habits, and adding cool tools, supplements, and exercises to my daily health routine. As I reflect on the past year, I wanted to share my top 18 health hacks that have made a noticeable difference in my own personal health journey this year.
TOP 18 in 2022
1. LMNT Electrolytes
When I started paying closer attention to my hydration, I quickly realized that I was under-consuming sodium in my diet. Contrary to popularly held belief, we as a collective are not ingesting enough sodium. These electrolyte pouches provide the proper balance of sodium, potassium and magnesium to help maintain fluid balance in my cells, and enhance overall energy and hydration.
Disclaimer: If you have high blood pressure I do not recommend taking this product—discuss with your physician to see what may be best for you.
2. Hydrogen Tablets
Molecular hydrogen is a strong antioxidant that has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to seek and neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals produced in the body from environmental toxins, EMFs, air pollution, and processed foods. I like to take 1-2 tablets daily for overall health and well-being.
3. Blue Light Blocking Glasses/ Red Incandescent Bulbs
I have learned so much about the benefits and effects of certain wavelengths of light on our physiology over the past year, and it has challenged me to change my own relationship with light. I wear my orange/red tinted blue light-blocking glasses in the evenings, to block out the stimulating effects of artificial blue light in my surroundings. I have also swapped out any compact fluorescent bulbs in my home in favour of incandescent bulbs which emit less flicker and ‘dirty’ light.
In our family room and bedroom, I’ve taken it one step further, and have placed a red-hued incandescent bulb. The visible red light emitted from these bulbs mimics the natural red and infrared wavelengths found in sunset and firelight, which signals the body to release melatonin and prepare for rest. I recently posted a blog that takes a deeper dive into types of light and their effects on health. If you’d like to read further click HERE.
4. Athletic Greens (AG1) Powder
You may have seen other wellness advocates promoting this product lately. I was hesitant at first, but wow, I am very impressed! It is a bit on the pricey side, but this is definitely a case of ‘you get what you pay for’. Boasting multivitamins, minerals, pre and probiotics, adaptogenic herbs and antioxidants, this greens powder supports digestive health, immune function, metabolism, and stress response, and it tastes great!
5. Walking/20,000 Steps
My daily walk is a non-negotiable part of my health routine. I typically walk for about an hour, aiming to get 20,000 steps in per day. I always make sure to leave my sunglasses and prescription glasses at home on these walks! Both types of lenses block the natural rays from the sun, and I certainly don’t want to do that! Exposure to natural light reacts with receptors in our eyes and is crucial for setting our circadian rhythm.
6. Weighted Vest (Rucking)
I often wear my 20lb vest when on my daily walk. This is a great exercise when you may be short on time. Wearing a weighted vest helps improve muscle tone and weight-bearing activities help to improve the integrity of bone tissues-very important to maintain both muscle mass and bone density as we age!
7. Peloton App
No, you don’t need to buy an expensive spin bike to use this app! For a small monthly fee, this app offers a great variety of fitness classes from several different instructors. It makes it so easy and convenient to find a workout you enjoy, without having to leave the house.
8. Five Tibetan Rites
I love starting my day with movement to boost my mood and focus for the day ahead. One of my favourite choices for morning movement is the Five Tibetan Rites. This is an ancient yoga practice that consists of a sequence of 5 exercises to help increase mobility, flexibility, calmness, and mental clarity. Each movement is performed 10 to 21 times and can have a mantra attached to it to help build concentration and focus. If you’d like to read more about morning routines you can go deeper HERE.
9. Morning Light
I strive to get outside first thing in the morning to get exposure to the natural blue wavelengths of light from the sun. Blue light is very stimulating and helps to energize us for the day. Morning light signals the hypothalamus and all corresponding organs to be alert and wake up. It also stimulates retinal cells to trigger the production of melatonin to help us sleep the following night. When dark winter mornings make early morning exposure challenging, I will use a ring light or Happy Light to start my day.
10. Prioritizing Protein
Everyone has different protein requirements based on their health and activity level. The general recommendations are about 0.6 to 1.0 gr per pound of body weight. I personally aim to eat approximately 0.8gr per day as I lead an active lifestyle and I want to focus on keeping an adequate muscle mass as I age. An appropriate protein intake is so vitally important to our bodies to maintain and build lean muscle mass, help repair cells, and maintain healthy body weight.
11. SunWarrior Trace Minerals
I prefer to get my nutrition through whole food sources, however, modern-day agriculture has sadly depleted vitamin and mineral levels in the soil, and in turn, our food supply. Due to the decreasing availability of these micro and macro minerals, gaps in my diet are not only possible but likely. Adding trace mineral drops in my morning beverage is an easy way to make sure my mineral requirements are met.
I use deliberate heat exposure with my infrared sauna for general health, mood improvement, and for enhancement of my body’s detoxification and stress pathways. Less than 1 hour per week is all I need to reap the rewards. The sauna helps benefit my cardiovascular health, decrease cortisol levels, and enhances DNA repair and longevity pathways. Yes, please!
13. Cold Exposure
This health hack has really gained traction over the past few years, and for good reason! Short exposure in a cold shower or cold plunge stimulates the immune system and causes a significant release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which makes us feel alert and increases energy levels and focus. Cold exposure also increases metabolism by converting white fat (energy storage) into beige or brown fat (which are metabolically active). Not to mention the mental work and stamina required to keep yourself submerged. 11 minutes a week, broken up into 1-5 minute sessions are recommended, and I feel amazing afterwards! For complete protocol and safety precautions, this post by Dr. Andrew Huberman explains it well HERE.
14. Mask Altitude Training
Altitude masks or elevation masks mimic conditions of high altitude, making the heart and lungs work harder during exercise. When I take the mask off, I get a big boost- my body has adapted to restricted oxygen during my workout, and once it is removed, my body is able to use oxygen more efficiently, which aids my athletic performance.
15. Sleep Mask and Mouth Taping
I take my evening and sleep routine very seriously- proper sleep is vital to my health and energy levels! I live a busy and active life, I need to ensure my sleep hygiene is on point. I have been using an eye mask for years to block out all potential light, but have only recently started mouth taping to ensure that I am only breathing through my nose during the night. Nasal breathing increases nitric oxide production in the sinus, which has been linked to better sleep, reduced inflammation, and even increased immune function.
16. WinStreak App
We are constantly surrounded by negativity in the world today–the daily news, negative people, and inner criticisms in our own minds. This app is a tool that helps you feel positive about your accomplishments at the end of the day, by asking you to record your greatest ‘wins’ of the day. This can help you stay on track to achieve goals, and offers a tangible record of how much you have accomplished. I like to log my 3 biggest wins of each day.
17. Resistant Starch + Fermented Foods
I have started adding a resistant starch fibre supplement from Designs For Health called RS Fibre, in my daily routine. Resistant starch is resistant to digestion—once it reaches the large intestine, it ferments into short-chain fatty acids that act as fuel for the beneficial bacteria in the gut. The microbiome is so important to our overall health, I am always looking for ways to support intestinal integrity and proper bacterial balance.
I also have become more consistent with eating Lacto-fermented foods each and every day to further support my microbiome with natural probiotic-rich foods. Fermented beets are my current favorite, but sauerkraut, fermented salsas, coconut kefir, and kvass are all delicious! A tablespoon or two per day is all you need, and so easy to toss on a salad, or as a condiment on your dinner plate. If you are interested in trying it, you can create an account and purchase it HERE.
18. Creatine for Brain Support
When you hear the word creatine, what comes to mind? Creatine is most known in the fitness world for bringing more water into the muscles, which can enhance the strength of those muscles and other tissues. There is now a large body of evidence that creatine supplementation can increase brain function and cognition. As both a strength training enthusiast and brain health hacker, creatine has been an amazing addition to my supplement regime.
The Importance Of Health Habits
Now, did I wake up one morning and decide to start incorporating all of these habits all at once? Of course not! Incrementally adding to your daily health routine over time will soon make a new habit feel like second nature. I hope this recap has given you ideas and inspiration for your own routine. What could you easily add to start taking steps to better health and wellness in your own life?
Another practice I implement at year’s end is to reflect on wins and accomplishments both in my personal and professional life. I have an amazing mentor who challenges his community to do a personal and professional inventory of sorts. It is really quite eye-opening and motivating to see all that has been achieved year after year!
I would like to share a few similar prompts with you so you may be able to reflect on your own achievements from the past year, and some probing questions that will help set your intentions and create positive life changes for the year ahead!
What word or phrase best describes your experiences in 2022?
What was your biggest surprise in 2022?
Who or what pushed you outside of your comfort zone in 2022?
Who had the greatest impact on your life in 2022?
What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2022?
What is your proudest accomplishment in 2022?
What personal relationship improved the most in 2022?
What habits or negative influences did you release in 2022?
What was the most loving act of service you performed for someone else in 2022?
What brought you the greatest amount of joy in 2022?
And now, let’s set the tone and create momentum for the year ahead! When setting new goals and habits, you may find it helpful to connect with someone to be your accountability partner. This could be a mentor or coach, a close friend or relative, or even a virtual community. Having regular check-ins will help to keep you on track to meet those goals you have set for yourself, and knowing that you have support through any potential stumbling blocks along the way, can really help to keep momentum.
INTENTIONS FOR 2023
What is your main objective/goal for the year ahead?
What actions will you take to achieve this goal? Break it down into bite-sized steps.
What are you most looking forward to learning or exploring in 2023?
What habits are you seeking to adopt or change in 2023?
In what ways are you willing to expand out of your comfort zone in 2023?
What impact would you like to have on the lives of others this year?
What would you like your biggest achievement to be in 2023?
What personal relationship would you like to focus more on this year?
What area of your life would you like to experience more joy in the year ahead?
What word or phrase best describes your mindset or theme for 2023?
I do hope I’ve inspired you to take some time over the holidays to reflect on all that you have accomplished and celebrate your own personal wins and achievements over the past year. So often it may feel like we haven’t accomplished anything noteworthy, but once you spend some time looking back, and putting thoughts down on paper, it becomes clear to see the ways you have grown and achieved more than you thought possible. And that, my friend, is certainly worth celebrating!
Wishing you a Happy New Year, and abundant health in 2023 and beyond!