4 habits to a joyous new you

Photo: istockphoto.com/Maridav
Plus: a delicious Chickpea Detox Salad recipe

The New Year is superbly wonderful time of renewal and release of old habits that do not serve you well. However, research shows us the unfortunate reality that most people do not actually follow through with their resolutions and generally fall back into old patterns by the springtime, if not sooner. Part of this is because we set unrealistic goals that are simply not sustainable. Also, we tend to focus too much on restriction and deprivation – not a very joyous thing to do to yourself!

How about we change things up and focus on all the positive habits to begin rather than focusing on the bad habits to give up? When you fill your life with more good habits there is simply less room for bad habits.

Here are 4 habits to a joyous new you and fabulous New Year!

1. Start every day with a large glass of water.

While this may seem totally obvious, the truth is very few people are doing this simple and essential habit for joyous health. While you’ve been sleeping your liver is working hard to cleanse your body of unwanted waste products and those detoxification engines are churning. This means there are a lot of acidic waste products ready for elimination when you wake up. Drinking a large glass of water upon waking is an absolutely fantastic way to start your day and aid your body in detoxification!

Kick it up a notch and add some freshly squeezed lemon juice or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your water. Both of these liquids help to alkalinize your system, give your liver a little extra love (as they help to stimulate bile, which is a carrier of toxins) and may help promote a healthy bowel movement.

2. Try one new recipe each week.

This will help keep you motivated to make healthier choices and keep things interesting. Choose a weekend afternoon or an evening where you can carve out a little extra time to try a new recipe so you do not feel rushed.

Need some inspiration? You can find many awesome nutritious recipes in my new book JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting or try the recipe following this article.

3. Aim for 8 hours of shut-eye to clear out your neurological cache.

One of the most overlooked factors with a profound impact on your health is getting a good night’s sleep. Good quality sleep keeps your appetite hormones in check, cools those inflammatory chemicals that promote heart disease and cancer and keeps your waistline trim.

A recent study in the Journal of Science showed that a good night’s sleep is like clearing your neurological cache. While sleeping, the brain has a chance to clear neurotoxic waste products, in other words, sleep clears out the clutter. Neuroscientists believe this information may lead to clues on how to treat Alzheimer’s.

If getting eight hours is difficult for you because you go to bed too late, aim to get to bed 15 minutes earlier each week for the next four weeks and before you know it you will be getting an extra hour after just a month!

4. Move your body every single day.

By now you know the benefits of exercise include keeping your weight in check and strengthening your muscles not just your core, legs and arms but your internal organs as well, like your heart. But beyond this exercise has a profound impact on your mental health including your mood. In fact, just five minutes of outdoor exercise can lift your spirits by increasing feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. This is especially important in the winter when we tend to be more sedentary and stay indoors more often. When you exercise you will have more energy and you will sleep better.

This doesn’t mean that you have to run on the treadmill every single day – find an exercise that you enjoy and work it into your lifestyle, perhaps a class at your local gym, spin class or cross-country skiing! If your work schedule doesn’t permit – don’t fret – you too can increase your exercise levels – park farther from work, don’t take the elevator – or walk up some flights every day (if you work on the 50th floor, take the elevator to 45 and walk the rest). Get a step counter and shoot for 10,000 steps. The opportunities to get more active are endless. Your body will thank you!

Chickpea Detox Salad

This recipe is from my book JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting. It is crunchy and flavourful, in fact no one in your family will have a clue how healthy it is! It is full of fibre, vitamins such as folate, vitamin A, C, E, and K, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium and protein.

Photo: Joy McCarthy

Serves 2.

  • 1 can (15 oz/425 g) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 stalks celery, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1 sweet red pepper, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) cilantro, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Let sit for an hour so the flavours can mingle.

Want more recipes and lifestyle tips? Check out Joy’s fabulous new book, JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting.

Joy McCarthy is a Holistic Nutritionist, RNCP CNP, owner of Joyous Health, corporate wellness speaker, nutrition expert for Global's Morning Show, freelance writer and consultant to clients from around the globe.