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Get Your Health Back on Track

Dear Dr.Kim

I feel like I have gotten off track with my health –I think partly to do with the changes that Covid has brought. My energy is low, I crave sugar and I have fallen off my exercise program yet I used to be relatively active. Do you have any suggestions to help me shift gears?

L.E. Victoria


Dear L.E.

Thank you for your question –I assure you, you are not alone with feeling you have lost some ground and are ready for some positive change. The conditions of Covid have been unique and the nuances to necessary public health guidance and restriction have, for many, felt relentless. Re-establishing habits and creating new patterns can require some planning and effort but the steps you take will favour a virtuous cycle. Each positive change you make will give you momentum towards a better outcome and that is motivating.

Here are some suggestions to help point you down a new path:

1. What gives you joy? Take an inventory of how you spend your time and what brings you joy. Creating joy in your life is an important part of feeling good and an important part of supporting your mental health. With limits put on by Covid, think about things that you can do and make them a part of each day.

2. Schedule time to exercise and be active. Each day, aim to be active for at least 30-45minutes. This could be walking, hiking, biking, running, skipping rope, playing tennis or golf, or accessing an online yoga, pilates or strength training class. Consider what you used to like, trying something new or even something that challenges you. I have become a bit of a fan of wearable technology (but not when I sleep!!) –I use a Garmin –that gives me feedback on my health and daily step count. This has given me objective data that, for example, highlighted that days when I am working in clinic –I need to be mindful of adding a walk, bike or run –as my clinic work is more mentally than physically active. Recognizing this has been a bonus as I feel a stress relief from being active and outside.

3. Begin keeping a nutrition record. Writing down what you eat is a valuable exercise in and of itself, as long as your relationship with food is healthy. Not only does it provide you baseline information to look at in making nutrition changes, but also it helps bring mindfulness to your nutrition choices. Food is your fuel and an important part of nourishing yourself and self-care. Once you have a record of what you have eaten for a week make some decisions about what you can improve and pick what you want to work on first. You can keep a nutrition record from time to time to check in or continue to record your intake to support establishing a fresh path. It is important to remember that food should be enjoyed, nobody is meant to be perfect, you do not need to change everything at once, and if you have a poor day of nutrition then get back at it the next day.

4. Maintain a bedtime ritual and good sleep habits. Do your best to avoid eating at least 3-hours before bedtime and limit routine caffeine, chocolate, sugar and alcohol use in the late afternoon or evening. These foods can be disruptive to sleep and so avoiding them will help set the stage for a super slumber. Along the same vain, limit computer and television time before bed as it can detract from easily falling asleep. Go to bed at an appropriate time so you can capitalize on the body’s natural cycles, which begin a restorative process about 10PM. Your routine can include a warm shower or bath, enjoyable music, reading and journaling.

I hope these suggestions help you harness some habits in favour of your good health.

“Health from the inside out.”