So, I’ve been frequently asked by my patients at my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA about what it takes to create a ‘brand new me in the brand new year.’

But my reply is that there’s nothing wrong with the way you were, we just have to tweak some habits that are not so healthy, but the you that you were last year was AMAZING and don’t you forget it!

In current society, I find that there are incredible amounts of stress placed on each of us to be perfect…but being perfect is exhausting and stressful and stress ages us and makes us sick. What we need to focus on are ways to take what we do and who we are and adjust some patterns to make ourselves healthier without stressing ourselves out.

For example, I had a patient come in recently who said she was fed up with gaining weight, feeling inflamed and bloated and having aches and pains. She said her diet isn’t where it needs to be and she wants me to give her a brand new diet. I responded with the request that she keep me a food journal for 1-2 weeks of what her current diet is like now. She was anxiously wanting to just dump all old habits and just start new ones and didn’t understand why I wanted her to keep a food journal of her old habits that she wanted to get rid of. I explained to her that we will have a higher chance of success if we have her start a cleaner diet and stick to it but within the framework of her old habits so it’s not as drastic of a change. After she came back to the clinic with her food journal and we made some changes, she then returned to clinic 2 weeks after that and said it was indeed easier since her basic habits and times of eating were still as it was before, she’s just tweaking the meals to be healthier and it was in fact easier than she thought it would’ve been.

This patient is a great example of some of the pitfalls a ‘brand new you in the brand new year’ could end up being an energetic start that pitters out in a few weeks…unless you make these changes within the framework of the lifestyle you had before. Who you are and what you do is AMAZING…and amazing health results occur when you are able to make realistic lifestyle changes within the framework you are already accustomed to. Your chance of success is higher if only a few things are new and not everything is new. For example, switching the meals by changing out the type of grain and adding more vegetables and/or adding side salad before every meal will be easier to do and maintain in your daily lifestyle rather than going from being a 110% carnivore to a straight vegan.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big supporter of vegetable intake hence a big fan of those wanting to be a vegan or vegetarian but I’m just saying that if you love to consume meat, going completely without it might not last long unless you do it in a way that’s realistic. Perhaps, making smaller changes and progressively moving towards that goal or coming up with quick recipes you enjoy until you become more accommodated to the changes.

The key point is to make new year healthy lifestyle changes in a way where you can sustain them longer than just a few weeks. Otherwise, the ‘brand new you in the brand new year’ might only be a ‘brand new you in the brand new few early weeks of the year.’

Just remember, the you that you were last year and the years before that were pretty great…so let’s not mess with perfection too much, how about just some tweaks in cutting back on processed sugars and adding more vegetables and let’s figure out how to do that within the framework of your already amazing life!