7 things to do for improved health in 2012

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Here are seven resolutions to make to be healthier and fitter in 2012. (Getty Images)

It's resolution time and here are some good resolution ideas, and tips on how to make these resolutions, well, resolute. These tend to be "process goals" which eventually lead to success.

1. I will manage stress better

  • Keep a journal of thankful thoughts, written each evening
  • Manage your stress hormones better by eating nutrients that improve your body's stress handling capability. Two great ones are magnesium taken after dinner and before bed, and glycine at least 3 grams taken before bed. Glycine also has the wonderful benefit of helping your body detoxify petro-chemicals (which we all have alot of, living in a city environment)

2. Every time I eat, half my plate will be veggies

There are high carb, low carb, high protein, low protein and high fat, low fat debates that will never end (because each of us is different and needs different ratios of nutrients). However there is one thing that ALL health experts will agree on.

We need to eat more veggies.

Making half your plate veggies is sure to get the job done. Besides the usual boiled or steamed veggies, one convenient way to get this done is to get that big bag of pre-cut veggies from the supermarket.

By the way, potatoes -- are not veggies, and neither is pizza! Regardless of what the US department of agriculture might say.

When I say veggies I mean non-starchy ones.

3. I will do things to sleep better

I wrote a whole article about sleep on Yahoo! Singapore so go read it!

4. I will watch less TV, and surf less internet

I just gave a talk at a book launch this last week, and one of my points was that successful people have big libraries while unsuccessful people have big TVs.

Problems with TV

  • Junk food ads (any food that has an ad is likely to be bad for you)
  • Too much stimulation to the point where we lose some of our own ability to create and imagine because there is no need to (this is especially true for young kids - and bad for their futures)
  • We sit on our butt, wasting time for hours because TV is very entertaining in the short run, but with hardly any benefits in the long run.

5. I will train 30 mins at least 3x per week

The guidelines for exercise vary and range from somewhere around 30 mins/day to 60 mins/day. But that is for light activity. Simply walking one extra bus stop to work or climbing an extra flight of stairs to your flat is not going do to much. Stop kidding yourself.

I mean 30 mins of training, not light activity. This means a proper strength training program, or interval training. While the topic of exercise is too big to cover here, you can use these two interval methods to get a good workout.

1. Anaerobic intervals.

  • 1 min hard work (8 out of 10 exertion)
  • 3 min light work (3 out of 10 exertion)

2. Aerobic intervals.

  • 2 min hard work (8 out of 10 exertion)
  • 4 mins light work (3 out of 10 exertion)

You can do these running, swimming, cycling, on a stair-master, rowing machine or elliptical. It doesn't matter, but do try to change the machine or activity each week to reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

6. I will take care of my soft tissue

Most of the chronic pain people experience is from their soft tissues. It's usually not a joint out of place, but rather mismanaged tension in the interconnected web of muscles, fascia and connective tissue that make up most of our body.

A good massage once a week will help with these problems. And if its done by skilled hands, it can actually allign your body better.

If that is not practical, at least get yourself a gift of a foam roller to do some self massage.

7. I will eat more home-cooked food

While home cooked food can still be unhealthy if you deep fry it or make it with lots of refined carbohydrates, at least you know excatly what ingredients are in it.

I have a friend who is in the food distribution business and he sometimes watches his buyers prepare the veggies that he distributes. Often they are not washed before cooking.

I have another friend who is a hobbyist chef. He interned in a high class restaurant and even in this classy establishment, the cooking oil was not changed for two weeks.

All this means is that we need to take responsibility for what goes into our bodies. And that means cooking from home.

There we have it! Stay healthy and strong in 2012

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