I always stress to my patients that it is not knowledge that ensures good health, but action. With a new year just around the corner, there is no better time to put this advice in place than today.
If you are not yet on the road to wellness, you can begin with this sample of a healthy day to get you moving. You can tweak the hours and supplements if you need to — just use this as a guide. Remember the old adage, one that definitely rings true when it comes to nutrition: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
6:30 – 7:00 am: Drink two cups of warm water with lemon each morning. This simple habit increases the flow of digestive juices, helps to cleanse the body, and resets our pH balance, making us less acidic, which helps reduce the risk of disease. If you have sugar or carbohydrate cravings, add 1 tsp of glutamine powder into the water. I actually continue to drink warm lemon water all day, with cayenne pepper in it to boost my metabolism and prevent cravings. Take one or two probiotic capsules for immunity, estrogen detoxification, and improved digestion. Ensure to select a brand with at least 10 to 15 billion cells per capsule.
7:00 – 7:30 am: Do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on an empty stomach. This will reduce elevated morning cortisol levels and burn extra body fat. In fact, an older study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (1985) showed that a kilogram of fat is burned sooner when exercise is done in the fasted state in the morning than when it’s done later in the day. Just goes to show you, timing is everything.
7:30 – 7:45 am: Enjoy a smoothie for breakfast each morning during the work week. In a blender, combine a whey protein isolate or vegan protein powder, one tablespoon natural almond butter (or coconut oil), 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 1/2 cup of frozen berries, and water. Turn it into a power smoothie by adding one of these: lecithin, cinnamon, greens powder, or unsweetened cocoa powder. If you need to, skip the berries and put it in a shaker cup and drink it during the day. Consume your nutrient essentials, such as a high-quality multivitamin, 2,000–5,000IU of vitamin D, and two to four capsules of omega-3 fish oils. This combo will help to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, aid fat loss, and ensure optimal health.
During your day: Have a snack that contains protein at mid-morning and mid-afternoon each day. Pack two snacks and a lunch for the office each day. Options can include a small apple with some almonds, a boiled egg, tomatoes with balsamic dressing and a piece of feta cheese, hummus with veggie sticks and 4% Allegro cheese, or a protein bar that has a nutritional balance of 40:30:30 or 40:40:20. Ensure you are eating every three hours, and aim to never miss your afternoon snack. Studies show individuals who eat four times per day enjoy greater weight loss. Eating regularly will avoid blood-sugar highs and lows that can affect your mood and energy.
Keep a 1.5 L bottle for water on your desk and fill it each morning, keeping in mind that you should finish it by the end of the day. Fill a thermos or a nice teapot with hot water, put in three or four green tea bags and let it steep. Drink the tea throughout the day in addition to your water. Be sure to steep your green tea to allow the active ingredients to reach full potency.
Get in a workout: Aim to do a 30-minute, high-intensity resistance-training circuit three times each week to maintain metabolically active muscle and improve insulin sensitivity. Be sure to follow up your workout with a sugar-free drink that includes amino acids and antioxidants, which aid energy, exercise recovery, insulin balance, and cellular repair.
6:00 – 8:00 pm: Eat your hormonally balanced dinner before 8pm to avoid weight gain — earlier is better. Your plate should include lots of fibrous carbohydrates, made up of one-third salad and one-third veggies. The other third should be your protein. Your fats may fall on top of your carbohydrate selections (as an olive oil or salad dressing, for instance) or be consumed within your protein selections. I recommend including a starchy carbohydrate like brown rice, sweet potato, or squash (about ½ a cup) once a day with your evening meal — rather than your lunch or breakfast — in order to boost serotonin levels and help you sleep. This simple habit will also help to maintain consistent energy throughout the day, but still some of you may prefer having your starch at lunch. Take your second dose of two to four omega-3 fish oil capsules with this meal.
9:30 – 10:00 pm: Spend some time alone, even if it is just 15 minutes, to breathe deeply, meditate, ponder, review your goals, or write in a journal to wind down before bed and collect your thoughts. Designate this time as your time daily.
10:30 – 11:00 pm: Aim to get to bed before 10 or 11pm, sleeping in a darkened room for optimal recovery and to maximize the release of melatonin and growth hormone. Most sleep experts agree that seven to eight hours a night is optimal. However, some people may require more or less sleep than others. If you wake without an alarm and feel refreshed when you get up, you’re likely getting the right amount of sleep for you. If you have trouble sleeping due to high stress levels, you can add in one of my recommended sleep aids, together with 400–800mg of magnesium glycinate.
Try this schedule, then repeat it the very next day. Keep aiming to repeat it daily and you will be well on your way to optimal (and hormonally balanced) health.
Natasha Turner, N.D. is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet and her newest release, The Supercharged Hormone Diet, now available across Canada. She is also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique.