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6 Game-Changing Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2024

While you may have fallen off track during the holidays, the new year is a great time to start kicking your health goals into high gear! The best way support your body and mind is by taking your health into your own hands and implementing small, actionable habits. In this blog post, we'll explore six impactful habits that you can seamlessly incorporate into your daily routine to promote overall well-being. From mindful practices that enhance mental clarity to physical habits that support your body's vitality, these strategies are designed to empower you on your path to a healthier and more fulfilling life. Let's make this year a celebration of self-care and prioritize habits that contribute to a happier and healthier you.


1. Start Your Day With Water


Most of us simply don't drink enough water throughout the day leaving us dehydrated. Dehydration can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, anxiety, cravings, constipation, muscle spasms, and muscle tightness. Drinking water upon waking is a great way to combat dehydration by getting some water intake out of the way. Additionally, after a night's sleep, your body becomes dehydrated. Drinking water first thing in the morning helps rehydrate your body and kick-starts your metabolism which can be beneficial for anyone looking to boost weight loss. Water also helps flush out toxins from the body by supporting healthy bowel movements and aiding in the elimination of waste. If you don't go to the bathroom regularly (at least 1-2x per day), you would be considered constipated. Irregular and infrequent bowel movements can cause a build up of waste and toxins in the body which leads to inflammation, bloating, fatigue, and more. Water allows for better gut health which ultimately can support a healthy weight. My recommendation is to start with 16-20oz of warm or room temperature water each morning to stimulate metabolism and digestion. Try adding things like fresh lemon juice, ginger, apple cider vinegar, cayenne, cinnamon, and raw honey for additional benefits.


2. Enjoy More Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods


The standard American diet (SAD) typically consists of more processed food than real food. Processed foods are not ideal for us because they are often filled with artificial ingredients which can cause numerous health issues. They also lack nutrients and are higher in sugar and calories which leads to nutrient deficiencies, increased cravings, and ultimately diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. If you think back to what our ancestors consumed, they ate what they could find by hunting and gathering, i.e. real foodmeat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. They also had less health issues than our society has today which shows the downside of all the processed foods we have easily available to us. Our society is less healthy and sicker than ever before simply because of the increase in processed and fast foods, and decrease in real, whole foods in our diets. Focus on including more real food in your diet by eating more grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, organic fruit and vegetables (when possible), and nuts and seeds (and their oils/butters). Don't be afraid to season your food and use clean or homemade sauces to spice up your meals. Remember that healthy doesn't have to be overly complicated but it also doesn't need to be boring either. Find a few simple staple recipes you enjoy and rotate those each week. Some of my favorites include egg and veggie scrambles, stir fry (with ground turkey or beef) and tons of veggies over rice, steak with broccoli and roasted sweet potato, and buddha bowls.


3. Have Protein With Every Meal


Increasing protein intake in your diet can offer various health benefits. Protein is the main building block for our bodies as muscles, tissues, and organs are made up of amino acids which come from protein. This is why adequate protein intake supports muscle growth, maintenance, and recovery after exercise. Protein has a high satiety value, meaning it helps you feel full and satisfied. Including more protein in your diet can contribute to weight management by reducing overall calorie intake, keeping you full longer, and curbing cravings. Also, the thermic effect of food is higher for protein compared to fats and carbohydrates which means that the body expends more energy to digest and metabolize protein. This is why high protein diets help to boost metabolism, increase calorie burning, and support a healthy body composition by reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass. Lastly, including protein with meals helps stabilize blood sugar levels as it slows the absorption of carbohydrates thus reducing the post-meal spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. This helps improve insulin resistance and diabetes, increase energy, optimize sleep, improve mood, and support a healthy metabolism. For best results, aim to eat 0.8-1g per pound of lean bodyweight daily or at least 3-4oz (20-30g) for females and 5-6oz (40-50g) for males with every meal. If you're more sedentary, aim for the lower end range and if you're more active, aim for the higher end range.


4. Meditate & Practice Deep Breathing


High stress is one of the main causes of many health issues yet most of us simply don't take the time to manage it. We convince ourselves that unwinding by watching TV or scrolling on our phones is how we de-stress, and while this can be a good way to tune out, it's more of a mindless activity that disconnects us from our bodies. The purpose of stress reduction and relaxation techniques is to do just the opposite by relaxing the mind and tuning more into our bodies. Majority of us are always "on" and connected to the world via electronics, such that, are nervous systems are always stimulated and in a heightened state. When stressed or in a heightened state, your body's nervous system enters the sympathetic state, also known as fight-or-flight response. In this state, your body produces stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in response to a stressor. If stress is not managed, it can become chronic which causes your body to consistently pump out these stress hormones without any relief. Because cortisol levels are directly proportional to insulin levels, excess cortisol causes excess insulin production, and insulin is what contributes to weight gain, blood sugar issues, low energy, trouble sleeping, mood disorders, and inflammation. Additionally, most processes, such as digestion and healing, are not prioritized when in fight-or-flight as these processes can only be carried out in the relaxed, parasympathetic state. So your body is not able to function as optimally causing a multitude of problems.


Make 2024 the year you finally proactively manage your stress by engaging in a meditation practice for 5-10 minutes daily. I recommend laying down and placing one hand over your heart and one on your belly to practice deep breathing throughout. Quite your mind and focus on your breath by doing a breathing exercise. My favorite breathing exercise is 4-7-8 breathing (inhale for :4s, hold for :7s, exhale for :8s) ensuring to inhale through the nose and let your belly fill with air and then exhale out the mouth letting your belly fall. The goal of meditation is not to turn off your thoughts completely but rather to tune back into your breath whenever you notice thoughts arise that way you connect more to your body rather than your mind.


5. Oil Pulling


Oil pulling is an ancient practice rooted in Ayurvedic medicine that involves swishing coconut oil around in your mouth and then spitting it out. There is a big connection between the mouth and our overall health as there are tons of bacteria within the oral cavity, and if out of balance can contribute to health issues. Oil pulling supports the lymphatic system (think like your body's sewage system) by pulling out toxins through the mouth thus helping you detox. Additionally, oil pulling supports better oral health, reduces bad breath, can improve teeth and gums, and even helps whiten teeth! It also helps support your immune system and fight infections. To do oil pulling, you take a tablespoon of organic cold-pressed coconut oil and swish it in your mouth before brushing your teeth. For this reason, it's best to do this first thing in the morning while you're getting ready or before bed. You can do other things while you oil pull so that the time goes faster! I recommend starting with just 5 minutes and working your way up to 10-15 overtime. Always ensure to spit the oil in the garbage or toilet, NOT the sink, as it will clog your pipes. Rinse your mouth, brush your teeth, and use hydrogen peroxide or an oral rinse immediately following. Do this every day to support detoxification, reduce inflammation, improve oral health, fight bacteria imbalances, and improve your immune system!


6. Embrace Cold Showers/Plunges


Cold plunges have recently become all the hype, and for good reasons! Cold exposure has been associated with various health benefits, and the good news is you don't need to get in a tub or bath to reap the rewards. You can simply end your hot shower with cold, starting with :30s (or less) and working your way up to a few minutes as you adjust overtime. Cold showers can boost your metabolism and increase caloric burn to support weight loss. They also help improve circulation, improve cardiovascular health, speed up muscle recovery and combat soreness, increase energy, promote better sleep, enhance mood, reduce anxiety, and boost immune system. So, if you find you're sluggish, experience frequent muscle fatigue or soreness, trouble losing weight, or experience anxiety or depression, try exposing yourself to cold and see how your health improves.


In conclusion, adopting and prioritizing healthy habits is not just a resolution; it's a lifelong investment in our well-being. As we embark on this new year, the journey toward a healthier lifestyle begins with small, sustainable changes. Each small step contributes to a holistic approach to health that adds up every single day and bring you long-term results. Remember, it's not about perfection but progress. By incorporating these six healthy habits into our daily routines, we pave the way for a happier, more vibrant life. Here's to a year of self-care, resilience, and embracing the transformative power of wellness. Cheers to a healthier and happier you!


If you’re interested in a holistic approach to improving your health and wellness, let's chat! Click below to book a free consultation or learn how my 12-week Nutritional Therapy program can help you achieve your health and fitness goals this year.





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ABOUT JENN


Jenn Horowitz, FNTP, CPT, CES, CECP is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Emotion Code Practitioner who works to address the root cause of illness. Jenn is the founder of JTH Wellness, a holistic nutrition and wellness practice, specializing in helping people improve their relationship with food, optimize gut health, and regain confidence in their bodies through 1:1 fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle counseling. Jenn works to teach others how to live a balanced lifestyle that allows them to achieve their goals while enjoying life for results that last. Learn more about Jenn’s nutrition counseling services and schedule a free 15-minute discovery session by visiting her website, http://www.JTHwellness.com.



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