10 Simple Ways You Can Fast-Track Your Health Goals This Year
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You might be wondering right now, why am I talking about keeping on track with your health goals — isn’t this a travel blog? Yes, it’s still a travel blog. But as I’ve mentioned a bit on Instagram and in my 2019 blogging recap, this past year was really one of re-focusing on my physical and mental health. Traveling a ton can put a toll on your body, and it’s important as someone who travels for a living (or for any of you that travel frequently) to pay attention to how it affects you physically and emotionally.
To travel well, we need to take care of our health first.
Last year I went to the doctor more regularly instead of avoiding appointments, I hired a therapist, I developed a regular habit of taking supplements, I went to the gym more, and I also started working more regularly with a naturopathic doctor in addition to my primary care physician. I’m pretty proud of all of the ways that I made my health a priority, which had previously been an afterthought. At the end of the day, all we have is our health and I decided it was about time I valued mine!
As we start a new decade, it’s likely you probably have some health goals of your own, and whether or not you’re a big traveler, the tips in this post should help you wrap your head around not just setting those goals, but more importantly — sticking to them. It’s easy to set goals as we start a new year that sound something like “eat healthier this year” or “workout more,” but unless we take specific actions or put systems in place, it’s likely we’ll find ourselves a year later with the same goals we started with.
In a recent previous post, I interviewed my naturopathic doctor, Corina Dunlap, about her top tips on how to stay healthy while traveling, because I know the struggle all too well. She offered up some incredible insights there, and so this time around I picked her brain on some actionable tips for how you can kick off the new year in the healthiest way possible. Without our health, we can’t travel, so let’s all commit to being healthier this year.
I’m excited to share this post that Corina and I co-wrote to help you stick to your goals and become the healthiest version of yourself in 2020 and beyond!
10 Ways to Keep Your Health Goals on Track This Year
1) Take 30 minutes to set all your calendar health reminders for the year
If it’s not on your calendar, does it even exist? Let’s be honest, probably not! Take 30 minutes this week to input all of your health reminders for the year into your calendar so everything is on autopilot. That way you can eliminate the unnecessary stress and background noise in your head of your running health to-do list.
Some ideas for reminders to input:
Call your physician to book that annual physical
Get a mammogram
Set your monthly or quarterly reminders to refill your prescriptions
If you are a sun worshipper or just have fair skin, consider starting yearly dermatology appointments
Need a Pap or updated STI testing? Don’t hesitate on those either
Getting these appointments done and out of the way will more than likely bring you some peace of mind and even better — ensure they get taken care of!
2) Drink more water by making hydrating fun
You’ve been hearing it since you were a child, so we don’t need to tell you all the reasons why water consumption is so important for your overall health. If you still struggle to drink enough water, then you need to make it more fun and create a positive experience around the process.
For me personally, I’m really sensitive to the taste of water and can tell instantly when our BRITA filters at home need to be replaced. For the last year, I’ve been using my filtered, self-cleaning LARQ Bottle and I’ve noticed that when I used it to filter my water it tastes much better. It also happens to be one of the best water bottles for travel in my opinion, so you can use it at home AND while you’re on the go.
Using any reusable water bottle helps you more easily track your water consumption too. I use the 25 oz. LARQ Bottle so I aim to drink 3-4 of them a day, although the amount of water you need is very dependent on your weight, activity level, etc (speak to a doctor to find out how much water you need to be consuming).
Some other ideas to make drinking water more fun:
Always have fresh lemons on hand or other fruits + mint in the kitchen to add flavor to your water
Swap coffee for tea and seek out a flavor you really love (I’m currently on a ginger tea kick)
Make ice cubes out of juice (make sure there is no added sugar) to add to your water
Add in some fresh cut pineapple to make you feel a bit like you’re sitting on a tropical island
3) If you don’t feel like you’re getting your health needs met, try hiring a naturopathic doctor
Having a regular physician is great, but I’ve found it really helpful to also have second opinions from my naturopathic doctor when I want to take a more holistic approach to particular issues. DIY healthcare all too often doesn’t work or leaves people more burnt out energetically and financially, trying to piece it all together without real long-term solutions. Protocols built for the masses also leave many people dissatisfied because it wasn’t a tailored approach to address their UNIQUE health needs.
There are so many great common-sense recommendations (better sleep; less sugar; whole foods; healthy relationships; regular movement). These pieces are all great, and when we talk about foundations of health, they are so incredibly important. But then there is a deeper level of care that is highly individualized. Consider having someone get to know your specific needs so that the money and time you spend on your daily health habits pays off!
I’ve loved working with Dr. Dunlap because the care is much more personalized and I don’t just feel like a number. Each time we talk, it feels more like a process and progress rather than addressing a single issue at a time and starting from scratch with each visit.
4) Set an actual time and place to take supplements so it becomes habit
Every year I’ve made it a goal to take more supplements, but this is the first year I’ve *actually* made it happen. What changed? I started to put my supplement containers in a place where I would see them constantly, and then that helped me remember to take them with breakfast each day, which in turn became a routine.
Being on a good regular routine here can be an incredible way to optimize how you feel and function in the world. But not all supplements are created equally (be wary of clever marketing). When used incorrectly, you’ll end up wasting your money, and at worst — you end up making yourself sicker.
Things to keep in mind when it comes to supplements:
Use quality brands.
Follow the correct dosing recommended by your provider.
Follow a specialized supplement plan created by an expert who spent the time getting to know you and can help you sort the good from the bad.
Consistently follow the plan.
If you’ve found yourself using BAGS of supplements and you’ve forgotten WHY you’re taking all of them, go back and follow tip #3 🙂
5) Invest in traveler’s health insurance for your next trip
It’s likely you already have health insurance that covers you while you’re at home. But what about your health when you’re away? When I was planning my round the world trip in 2016, I quickly realized that my health insurance coverage I had in the US wasn’t going to cover my expenses if I had a medical emergency abroad. That’s where traveler’s insurance comes in.
I know it may seem like an unnecessary extra cost, but in the unfortunate instance that you should end up in the hospital during a trip, you’ll be thanking me that you spent a little extra to cover yourself. I’ve heard horror stories of people going into major debt after having to get a medivac home to the US for care. Don’t let this happen to you.
6) Experiment with different journaling styles to to support your mental AND physical health
Journaling can be an extremely useful practice in terms of amplifying both your physical and mental health. It can be incredibly therapeutic to even write down just one thought or sentiment of gratitude daily.
I also like to keep track of my exercise and food-related goals to help me stay on track. If you’re having gut related issues, writing down your food intake and how you’re feeling daily can help you spot patterns around what you’re eating and how it makes your body feel.
7) Identify one area of your spending that is not serving you and replace it with self care
Budgeting and addressing financial goals is often something that comes up in the new year. As you look ahead to budgeting for 2020 and beyond, figure out how to rework your spending habits so that you can invest in some serious self-care this next year.
Whatever that looks like for you, planning out the financial piece ahead of time will make you feel more at ease and able to enjoy any indulgence. Are you signed up to every online entertainment provider? Maybe close out a few and swap your login with friends to free up some budget. Do you have other recurring payments of services you’re not really using? Identify these and replace them with self care practices that make you feel good.
8) Examine your exposures to environmental pollutants
When we think of environmental factors that can worsen our health, there are 5 main categories:
Topicals (products you use)
People you surround yourself with (since they can influence your choices and stress)
9) Get serious about your daily movement by tracking it in your planner
As the new year hits, it seems that everyone has a goal of working out more, but how do you actually accomplish that goal? I find that it helps me most to track it in my planner (I use the Project Planner for this).
Better yet, choose the type of movement based on what brings you joy first and foremost and don’t worry about anything that anyone else is doing. Remember that exercise helps to build up the mitrochondria all throughout our bodies which are like little energy-producing machines. What this translates to is that when we exercise, we typically will feel more energized and even smarter over time. Try it out. Some apps that Dr. Dunlap recommends for tracking workouts are FitBit and Sweat.
10) Schedule some time for digital detoxing
It’s important to connect into that being that is you and away from all the social and screen stimuli. One of Dr. Dunlap’s favorite ways to quickly reset is by doing this at least nightly. Turn off the WIFI router, leave your phone in airplane mode outside of the bedroom, and indulge in other things you love to do.