Statistics show that many people abandon their New Year’s resolutions by mid-January — but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the beginning of the year to jumpstart lifestyle changes to make 2022 your healthiest year yet! In a time when everyone is attempting to make radical and unstainable changes, we want to encourage you to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes into your day-to-day lifestyle. Most people who abandon their New Year’s resolutions attempt to make unsustainable changes like completely cutting out sugar after years of eating it daily or working out six days a week when they are currently not working out at all. We want you to go into the new year with a sustainable game plan that outlines how you can accomplish your fitness and health goals in 2022.
How to Jumpstart Your Fitness Goals
You Need a Baseline of Where Your Health Stands Now
It’s pretty simple: you don’t know what you don’t know. Dr. Alice Nguyen says one of the most critical ways to jumpstart your fitness journey is to get a baseline assessment of where your health currently stands. While you shouldn’t get baseline testing done until a few days after the holidays to ensure the results reflect your actual levels, it’s highly recommended to undergo health assessments at the beginning of the year. These health assessments can be seen as the “before picture” that people often take before losing weight or gaining muscle mass. If you don’t take a before picture, you won’t be able to measure the amount of progress you’ve made when it comes time for the “after picture.” Improving your internal health puts you into a position of accomplishing your aesthetic goals.
What Assessments Should I Get Done?
Dr. Alice recommends getting comprehensive testing done to fully understand where your health lies. The body is highly complex and needs its systems to optimally function, so there are several tests that Dr. Alice suggests getting done at the beginning of 2022.
The first suggested assessment is an advanced cardiometabolic profile composed of tests from Vibrant America and Boston Heart. These tests include measuring small-dense low-density lipoprotein, which are small lipoprotein particles that can jam into cracks and crevices before creating plaque buildup that ends up blocking blood vessels. Further, these tests look for oxidized LDL as this damaged LDL can get sticky and contribute to plaque buildup.
So, what’s the difference between these cardiovascular assessments if they appear to measure the same thing? Dr. Alice says, “Vibrant will not tell you if your HDL is working properly. HDL is the big fluffy cholesterol that tends to go around and collect the trash in your veins. So, I like to say the HDL is kind of like the trashmen in your veins [and] the LDL is the trash.”
Dr. Alice continues, “Now, have I seen people with high HDL and it not working very well? Absolutely. So, that is what Boston Heart will evaluate — if the HDL is working. That is something we have to look at. Cardiovascular disease is still the biggest killer worldwide — not just in the U.S.”
Other Important Assessments
To assess where your blood sugar stands, Dr. Alice says to look into getting A1C and insulin tests done. Insulin resistance actually indicates whether or not you’ll burn fat or gain muscle. Dr. Alice says, “Patients who have a plateau where they’re not losing body fat because of multiple reasons — we take a look at their insulin, and it’s high or sub-optimal.”
A comprehensive metabolic panel will assess if there are any liver issues present. Hormone tests are also essential to get an accurate picture of where your body’s health stands. Dr. Alice says, “If you want a full [hormone] assessment, you would include FSH, LH, TSH, estradiol, and maybe progesterone and DHT for men.”
For the patients who can’t afford several assessments, Dr. Alice recommends getting vitamin D, B12, folate, CoQ10, and magnesium assessments as she can extrapolate a lot of information from those markers. Lastly, we recommend looking into the HSCRP marker to evaluate your general systemic inflammation.
Everything is in Your Control
The exciting part is that everything is in our control — there’s so much we can do to make forward progress in our bodies! Completing labs at the beginning of 2022 will help you understand how to better accomplish your fitness goals because you’ll have a better understanding of the areas where your body needs to improve. You don’t know how crooked you are until you compare it to a straight line — these labs are the straight line.
As we move into the new year, we also want to take the time to remind you of the importance of what you put into your body. We encourage you to eat more proteins and fibers to optimize your health and fitness goals. Organic, grass-fed, and wild-caught protein sources are the best options. Single-ingredient food sources like vegetables and fruits are also highly beneficial! The choices that you make on a daily basis are what will impact your body long-term. If you want 2022 to be your healthiest year yet, you’ll need to make daily choices that align with your overall health goals. STARK wishes you a happy and healthy 2022!