Your A-to-Z Guide to a Healthy New Year

Your A-to-Z guide for taking care of your body and mind in 2019, from tried-and-true methods to newcomer trends.

New year, new resolutions. With everyone buzzing about goals to be happier and healthier, you’re probably doing some self-evaluating of your own. Maybe you’re looking to take better care of your skin in 2019? Or maybe you want to add more natural remedies to your medicine cabinet? Or maybe you need to be more intentional about taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Whatever you’re aiming to do in the year ahead, we’ve created a guide that will give you some ideas of where to start.

A: Activated charcoal  

Activated charcoal has all kinds of uses, but it’s especially good for your skin as a detoxifying agent. That’s why you’re seeing it in face masks, cleansers and other skincare products. Here’s how it works: The carbon in activated charcoal absorbs toxins like dirt and oil that linger on your face and cause breakouts. It’s also been shown to be effective at whitening teeth, although not as quickly as other whiteners. It’s a good option for people whose teeth are sensitive or those looking for a more natural approach to whitening.

C: Collagen

Whether in powder form or in beauty products, collagen is here to stay. It’s the primary structural protein in the skin that gives it its smoothness and elasticity. Adding collagen to your skincare routine or as a supplement in your diet can repair skin damage and make your skin appear more plump and youthful. However, some products are more effective than others. Look for products that include these three key ingredients: collagen, elastin and keratin.

E: Echinacea

With colds and the flu going around, it’s good to do as much as possible to protect yourself from germs. Echinacea is an herbal way to boost your immune system, and you can find it in a variety of herbal teas. We like drinking a cup before bed during flu season to boost our immune health and protect against illnesses.

G: Gratitude journaling

Sometimes we can lose sight of the good things. Enter gratitude journaling, which is exactly what it sounds like. Simply keep a journal where each day you write down something you’re thankful for. It’s that easy! Training our brains to look for things to be thankful for every day can actually go a long way in improving our mental health by increasing feelings of happiness and decreasing unhealthy emotions like envy and resentment.

I: Intermittent fasting

The word fasting can scare some people away, but intermittent fasting really just means paying attention to the timing of your meals and how often you eat them. There are a lot of ways to practice this popular weight loss tactic from simply deliberately spacing out meals to alternating days of “feasting” and fasting. It’s not for everyone, but it’s been proven that following an intermittent fasting diet where you eat normally on some days and eat 500-600 calories on fasting days may work and be healthy for some people.  

K: Keratin

Keratin is a protective protein that makes up your hair, skin and nails. It’s strong, shield-like qualities explain why Keratin treatments and products for hair have been soaring in popularity. When used to treat hair, Keratin can smooth and de-frizz as well as straighten curly and wavy textures for up to three months. There are a number of professional Keratin treatments you can get done at your salon, but there are also some keratin products you can buy to improve your hair’s texture at home.

M: Movement

We’re talking any and all movement, not just high-intensity exercise. Moving your body is important for both physical and mental health. Experts say that excess sitting is now linked with 35 diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression. Thankfully, there are easy ways to get your body moving each day. If you spend a lot of time sitting, try standing instead. Try to get outside and walk, even if it’s just around the block. Even cleaning your house can help you get some movement in. Whatever you do, try to make a habit of moving more than sitting to stay healthy.

O: Oils

Oils are everywhere these days and for a good reason! We’re going to talk about our two favorite types: essential oils and facial oils. Essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus oil can be used as aromatherapy to aid relaxation, making them great for combatting bouts of stress and anxiety. Other oils like eucalyptus and peppermint are good for easing congestion in the case of a cold. There are endless uses and types of essential oils. Facial oils are designed to deliver vitamins and other ingredients to your skin in high concentrations. Unlike essential oils, they’re applied directly to the skin. They’re also great moisturizers for skin in need of an extra boost. Try a vitamin C oil to brighten and even out your complexion or rosehip seed oil to calm breakouts.

Q: Quiz your brain

Just like your other muscles, your brain needs to be worked out every now and then too. Keep your mind sharp with puzzles and games. There are plenty of apps you can download to keep your brain busy. Things like Sudoku and crossword puzzles can also be good for your mind. Exercising your brain can improve memory, boost your IQ and improve brain functions like focus and reading comprehension.  

S: Stock up on healthy snacks 

We can sum this one up by saying this: If it’s not there, you won’t eat it. In 2019, make it a point to stock your refrigerator and pantry with fruits, nuts, and other healthy, whole foods to snack on. It’s easy to snack on junk foods when they’re readily available, but you can change your snacking habits by changing what you keep in your house, car or at work. If you usually have a sweet craving, try snacking on fresh fruit. Always reaching for salty snacks? Roast some chickpeas tossed with salt and spices for a healthier alternative to chips.

U: Unplug

We’re all guilty of spending too much time looking at our phones, laptops and TVs. Whether it’s for work or just checking in on our social media channels, we spend hours each day staring at a screen. That takes a toll on our minds and our eyes. When possible, unplug and take a break from all of that visual stimulation. You’ll return to the digital world feeling refreshed.   

W: Water

Bottom line: We all need to drink more of it. Drinking water improves the look and feel of your skin, the function of your digestive system and the health of your organs — even your brain. So, drink up. Your body will thank you!

Y: Yearly check-ups

The beginning of a new year is a great time to schedule any annual check-ups needed for 2019. This includes visits to your primary care physician, eye doctor, OBGYN or other specialists. Not everyone needs to make all of these annual visits, though, so before scheduling all of these appointments have a chat with your doctor about your health history and conditions. Then, they can recommend who to see for a check-up in the new year.

B: Baobab powder  

Baobab powder comes from the fruit that grows on Baobab trees, but all you really need to know is that it’s full of good stuff for your body. It’s usually sold in powder form, and it’s considered a natural multivitamin. That’s because Baobab is loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, magnesium and iron. Stir it into your favorite smoothie, add it to a glass of water or even bake it into muffins or casseroles. 

D: Vitamin D

Our main source of vitamin D is actually our own bodies, which create the supplement using sunlight. But when that’s not enough, there are so many accessible sources of vitamin D out there. So why keep tabs on how much vitamin D you’re getting? It’s essential for your health! It helps your body absorb calcium, lowers your risk of disease and supports your immune system. Some studies have shown it can even help prevent mental health issues like depression.

F: Fitness apps

Getting in shape has never been easier with a world of fitness apps available in the palm of your hand. Some even work with you like a personal trainer, creating customized workouts to fit your body type, fitness level and goals. There are apps for running, strength training, yoga and more, and with workouts so accessible, they’re easy to fit into your busy schedule.

H: Hair masks

Like a face mask, but for your hair. Hair masks can help with whatever your hair needs: more moisture, de-frizzing, slicking down split ends, restoring shine and just improving the health of your hair all around. To soften hair, try a mask with coconut or aloe vera. For oily hair in need of a refresh, try a clay-based hair mask. To repair damaged hair, look for a mask that includes argan oil or honey.

J: Jade rollers

You’ve probably seen them in your Instagram feed lately, but what exactly do they do? Jade facial rollers have been around for a long time — since the 17th century, to be exact. People claim jade rolling is good for an overall glowy complexion, doing everything from removing toxins from the skin and healing acne to decreasing under-eye puffiness and improving circulation. Only a few of these benefits are proven (circulation, de-puffing, relaxation), but we’re still willing to try it. Simply dab a bit of your favorite moisturizer or facial oil onto the roller and roll onto clean, dry skin.

L: Leafy greens

Besides the fact that most Americans aren’t eating enough vegetables in general, eating more leafy greens increases our intake of various vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. Greens also contain folate, which promotes healthy cell growth and function. Some greens, like spinach, even contain calcium. Thankfully, it’s easy to add more greens to your diet. Try throwing a few handfuls of kale into your favorite soup or your breakfast smoothie. Or swap the iceberg lettuce on your sandwich for spinach.

N: Nutrition

The importance of eating healthy may seem obvious, but what we eat affects everything about the way our bodies function. In 2019, try to take in fewer foods with preservatives and more whole and fresh foods. Focus on eating balanced meals that include lots of fruits and vegetables, which are essential for providing the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. Take it a step further and go meatless a few times each week  — proven to help reduce risk of heart disease and aid in weight loss, among other benefits.

P: Probiotics

The short version: Probiotics are microorganisms that keep your gut healthy. You don’t necessarily have to take probiotic supplements to get the benefits, though. It turns out probiotics occur naturally in a lot of good foods: Yogurt, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, pickles, chocolate and Kimchi. The buzz around the health benefits of probiotics in recent years have brought products rich in probiotics like Kombucha and Kefir to our local grocery stores.    

R: Retinol

Retinol, a Vitamin A derivative, is an anti-aging powerhouse that’s been around for years. It comes in various forms known as retinoids, and they all essentially do the same thing: Promote quicker cell turnover for smoother, more youthful looking skin. Retinoids are usually prescribed by dermatologists but recently, they’ve been getting more popular and accessible in the form of over-the-counter serums and moisturizers.

T: Take time to rest

We’ve all heard the buzz about self-care, but recognizing that you need to rest or take a break really is so important. When life gets busy, carve out some time for you, whether that’s 30 minutes or two hours. Do something relaxing like walking, reading, taking a bath or enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. Just be sure your self-care habits are healthy and restful.

V: ASMR Videos

ASMR videos are all over YouTube and our social media feeds, which left us wondering: What exactly is ASMR all about? ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, which is a relaxing sensation that starts on the scalp and travels down the spine. These videos popping up are designed to give people that feeling. They usually include gentle whispering, relaxing hand movements, brushing sounds and tapping or scratching. Try watching one to wind down before bed.

X: Exfoliating acids

It may sound counterintuitive, but acids are actually a great way to up your skincare game. There are lots of acids commonly used in skincare, but we’re going to talk about three that are on the rise: AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids), BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) and PHAs (Poly Hydroxy Acids). All three of these are known as chemical exfoliants, meaning that upon application to your skin, they work to eliminate dead skin cells and leave your face smoother, clearer and more even in texture. AHAs are good for pretty much all skin types, while BHAs are good for people with problematic skin with their antibacterial and pore-unclogging properties. For sensitive skin, look for PHAs, which are very gentle and contain more moisturizing properties.    

Z: Get Your Zzzzs

It’s not just about beauty rest: Good sleep makes us healthy. Getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep can reduce risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease as well as depression and mood disorders. Sleep can also affect our stress levels, ability to focus at work and school and our body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. So, hit the hay! And if you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor.

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