In January, you can't go anywhere without seeing ads for instant fat reduction and weight loss. You may have even made a New Year's resolution to make 2014 your year of change. While I support goal-setting, I hate to see people make unrealistic plans to manage their weight and health. Weight issues are not isolated problems. This is why I have always focused on a holistic approach to health. I believe if you eat well, move enough and manage stress, your body will reach its optimal weight. This is not a quick fix, but a long-term investment in you.
Optimal body composition. Popular culture is obsessed with weight, but this obsession is focused primarily on numbers instead of overall body health. While clean eating can help you lose weight, a healthy body composition is about whole body health for life and is a far better indicator of wellness than what size clothes you wear. Achieve a healthy body composition by getting enough sleep, managing stress, moving consistently and eating nutrient-dense food. Focusing on health holistically is a sustainable answer, whereas going on a diet only focuses on one element.
Add – don't subtract. You're setting yourself up for failure by focusing on what you can't have in the new year. Think about what one change you can make for a better, healthier or easier life. You don't have to view nutrition as black and white, or good and bad. Look at each part of your life, and see which small changes could lead to big results.
I often suggest starting with breakfast. While breakfast is important for balanced energy throughout the day and a constant metabolism, we often leave it behind as we hurry about our lives. Smoothies are often the fastest breakfast you can make. Blend healthy fat (such as avocado, chia seeds and flaxseeds), protein (such as hemp seeds, multi-source plant-based protein powder and almond butter), fruit and greens with water for a balanced breakfast without the hassle.
Daily detox. Juice cleanses and fad diets are especially trendy in January. When done properly, cleanses and detoxes can be helpful in recalibrating your body, but I prefer a longer-term approach to detox. As part of my Thrive Diet plan, I believe in eating foods that support daily detox – so you stay healthy year-round, without having to do an annual binge-cleanse.
Making sure you eat plenty of greens and fiber-rich fruits is the best way to detox on a daily basis. Eating nutrient-dense, clean, plant-based foods provides your liver with all the support it needs to help you thrive. Remember to make these changes slowly and one at a time. Too much change too fast can result in common detoxification symptoms, such as headaches, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue or sleep disturbances. Listen to your body, and go at a pace that works for you.
Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete and two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion. He is now a successful performance nutrition consultant, bestselling author of the Thrive book series, formulator of the award-winning line of plant-based Vega nutritional products and creator of Thrive Forward, an online video series designed to inspire and educate about plant-based nutrition. For more information, please visit www.brendanbrazier.comand follow Brendan on Twitter @Brendan_Brazier.