We’ve entered the home stretch of 2018 and this is the time of year is often when many people have trouble making healthier decisions. There’s pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween candy, Thanksgiving comfort food, and holiday parties. It’s cold outside which makes it much easier to stay curled up on the couch with a blanket than to exercise. Emotional/Mental stressors are usually just as, if not more abundant.

In the past maybe you’ve thought to yourself, “Oh well, I’ll start fresh once it’s the New Year.” In reality, that’s a TERRIBLE plan because 3 months of unhealthy living means you’re actively choosing a poor lifestyle for an entire quarter of the year. That’s NOT okay.

Can you be as intentional about taking care of yourself and working on your goals for the last 3 months of the year as you are during the beginning of the year? 

Inspired by author, Rachel Hollis, we’ve created a modified “5 to Thrive” based upon the key tenants of what your body requires to be healthy:

EAT – proper nutrition

MOVE – proper movement

MIND – taking care of mental/emotional/spiritual health

BRAIN/BODY – optimize brain & nervous system health

Keystone’s 5 to Thrive

1. Drink half of your body weight in ounces (200 lbs person = 100 oz) each day.

Why? Drinking fluids is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation.

Tips: Get a fun reusable water bottle and take it with you everywhere. Start with 8-12 ounces after you wake up in the morning. Each time you pick up your water bottle take 10 gulps. Set alarm reminders on your phone (or use one of the many hydration apps) to remind yourself to drink throughout the day to hit your goal. If you need flavor, try lemon or other fruit-infused concoctions. 

2. MIND – Write at least 5 things you’re grateful for each day.

Why? A healthy mind = a healthy body. Gratitude has a variety of benefits on one’s health. These include: brain health, reduction in pain levels, promote better sleep, stress relief, reduced anxiety & depression, and increased energy & vitality.

Tips: The physical record is important—don’t just do this exercise in your head. The things you list can be relatively small in importance (“The tasty sandwich I had for lunch today.”) or relatively large (“My sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy.”). The goal of the exercise is to remember a good event, experience, person, or thing in your life—then enjoy the good emotions that come with it. Try subtraction, not just addition. Consider what your life would be like without certain people or things, rather than just tallying up all the good stuff. Be grateful for the negative outcomes you avoided, escaped, prevented, or turned into something positive—try not to take that good fortune for granted.

3. MOVE – Aim for at least 30 minutes of movement or exercise each day.

Why? As you know the health benefits of regular movement are hard to ignore. It can help control weight, combat health conditions & diseases, improve mood, boost energy, promote better sleep, and can help you connect with friends.

Tips: If you currently do not exercise or incorporate movement in your day. Start by putting on your shoes and simply walking. There are a variety of fantastic gyms and group fitness studios throughout the Des Moines area that offer free initial sessions to help you find what you enjoy. Check out some of our Preferred Partners.

If you are looking for at free at-home workouts. Dr. Megan enjoys FitnessBlender.com and Yoga with Adriene.

4. EAT – Focus on making one small change each month.

Why? Most of us know that getting the proper nutrients is a key part of health. The biggest struggle most people have is eating enough fruits & vegetables. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Tips: Choose one thing to change each month (for the next 3 months). Examples: Add one non-starchy vegetable with every meal. Pick a food or food group you know you shouldn’t be eating as much of (sugar, soda, processed foods, ice cream, baked goods, alcohol).

5. BRAIN/BODY – Do at least one of your structural at-home recommendations daily AND keep (or make) an appointment to have your spine checked to optimize brain-body communication.

Why? Structural Shifts of the spine lead to premature damage to the structures of the spine and nerve system. This results in what we call Secondary Conditions, or symptoms. A spine with normal structure results in a strong and stable foundation, allowing optimal nerve system function and optimal health. Chiropractic adjustments can reduce spinal nerve irritation, which can help signal the brain to balance the “fight or flight” response and allow the body to optimally heal.

Maintaining consistency with at-home structural rehabilitative exercises and stretches between your visits help your body protect the changes we’ve made in the office together. In addition to getting your spine checked regularly, they can help reduce the negative effects of repetitive stressors on the body.

Tips: If you’ve been through a structural corrective care plan and have elected to continue to be checked periodically – make sure to schedule your visits through the rest of the year. Then, if you need to, review which at-home recommendations you should be completing at regularly and commit to doing AT LEAST one each day. Don’t be shy to let us know if you need a refresher – we’re here to help, not to judge!

If you’re reading this and haven’t had an examination or been through structural corrective care, that’s okay! You’re welcome to simply have a conversation with one of us to see if we’d be a good fit for you needs! Or, let this serve as a reminder to schedule with your trusted structural chiropractor to have your spine checked!

The goal is to do each of these 5 things EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of the year.

Will it be easy?

Probably not.

You may slip up. That’s OKAY. This isn’t an all or nothing – succeed or fail type of thing. If you mess up, all is not lost. Start again and keep pushing forward!

This is to help you FOCUS on 5 simple things you can do to maintain and move your health forward during a difficult time of year. Are there more things we could add to the list (sleep, deep breathing, meditating, etc.)?  Yes, and we’re not discouraging additional healthy behaviors…we kept it to 5 to make it challenging, but also doable (plus five and thrive rhyme).

Don’t be afraid to enlist others as part of this challenge, too. Making changes in your life is much easier (and more FUN) when you have the support from friends, family, or coworkers.