24 Hours To a New You!

Want to change the way you feel?

It only takes a day, says Alex Gazzola – and it needn’t be as strenuous as you think!

It’s a popular misconception that a move towards a healthier lifestyle demands time, willpower, sacrifice and hard work – be it a lengthy detox programme, a new fitness regime or a strict diet, for example. Because the idea of such drastic changes can overwhelm even the most determined of us, it’s easy to put off – and keep putting off, new and beneficial lifestyle initiatives… ‘my diet starts next week’ syndrome!

But achieving well-being needn’t involve rigorous adjustments to your daily routine. There are plenty of small, enjoyable and perfectly do-able changes you can make to your life right now that will make you feel better, healthier and revitalised within 24 hours – if not straight away – and most will only take a few moments of your time.

Welcome to a brand new day, and a brand new you...



According to happiness guru, Ben Renshaw, author of The Secrets of Happiness, happiness is a choice we can make the moment we wake up. But what if you have a lot on your mind? In this case, his advice is to write it all down on paper, then throw it away. Now make another list of the things you’re looking forward to.

"This powerful symbolic process encourages your optimism," says Renshaw. "This is a day when you’re developing a new you, so resolve to look forward to all the good, healthy, social things you’ve planned."

Positive feelings release feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream, which in turn boost the immune system. "You can literally choose happiness and positivity, choose to boost your immune system and therefore, choose to be healthier – immediately," adds Renshaw.


The often-quoted ‘two litres of water a day’ maxim is a fair approximate guideline, but can seem a lot. In reality, you may only need an additional couple of glasses to make up your daily quota. Try a cleansing, rehydrating drink of lemon with a little grated ginger and hot water when you wake up and try to remember to have a glass of filtered water every hour or two throughout the day.


After a long period of bedtime inactivity, your body’s muscles can be stiff and vulnerable to injury. "A quick, easy morning yoga stretch is a marvellous way to release tension in the body and tone the spine and legs," says yoga expert, Barbara Currie. She recommends the following exercise first thing:

  • Stand straight with your feet apart. Inhale and slowly lift and stretch your arms above your head.
  • Exhale as you slowly move forwards into your maximum stretch. Hold for 5 seconds, breathing normally.
  • Inhale as you return upright.
  • Stretch back, exhaling to your maximum position.
  • Inhale as you return upright.
  • Exhale, lower your arms, and relax.
  • Repeat twice.


Results of studies published by Harvard Medical School in America found that people who eat breakfast daily are less likely to have high cholesterol, or suffer from diabetes or heart disease.

"If you skip breakfast you’ll probably get very hungry mid-morning and grab a poor food like biscuits or a fatty sandwich," says nutritionist Brigid McKevith. "Instead, eat a fortified wholegrain cereal with semi-skimmed milk and make the most of glorious seasonal fruits, which will have a higher nutrient content. Wild berries are especially good."


The skin is an organ of excretion, eliminating toxins, salts and oils. Add to that dead skin cells and external pollutants and the skin’s surface becomes a potent cocktail of undesirables, which need to be gently removed to keep it in optimum condition. But, avoid soap.

"Most soaps are alkaline and act in direct opposition to your skin’s natural acidity, which protects it from bacteria and moisture loss," says skincare therapist, Sally Penford. "From today, start using an acid-balanced creme or gel – a creamier one for dry skin and a clay-based cleanser for oily skin."

For the complexion, use a gentle, natural exfoliant. "Always moisturise too," adds Sally. "Not only to rehydrate, but to protect your skin from pollution."



"A healthy lunch is vital to keep you going through the afternoon," says McKevith. "But, for a change, avoid refined carbohydrates like bread and pasta, which can leave you feeling sluggish. Choose something different, such as pulses like beans or lentils, which are good with a large vegetable salad and some grilled chicken. Make the most of good local vegetables and eat seasonally – it’s what nature intended."


Barbara Currie advocates an alternate breathing exercise to maintain your healthy equilibrium and dissolve any mid-afternoon build-up of stress. "It’s a wonderful tranquilliser to keep you calm and peaceful every day," she says.

  • While seated, place your right thumb on your right nostril and your third finger on your left nostril.
  • Unblock your right nostril and inhale through it for a count of five.
  • Block your right nostril again and hold your breath for five, then unblock the left nostril and exhale slowly to five.
  • Inhale through the left nostril, hold your breath and then exhale through your right.
  • Repeat the cycle ten times.


Instead of a coffee, Dr Sarah Brewer, a holistic health specialist, recommends a blended concoction made from one teaspoon each of guarana powder, brewer’s yeast and wheat germ, one tablespoon of honey, all topped up with mineral water. "Guarana contains a gentle, slow-release form of caffeine that boosts energy without interfering with sleep," she says.


A new day and a new you should never be about denial. A little of what you fancy does you good. For many of us, this means chocolate. High-quality chocolate, with 70% or higher cocoa-solids content and low sugar, contains six vitamins (A, B1, B2, C, D and E), various minerals (including iron) and a host of flavenoids, which may help combat cardiovascular disease. "Avoid commercial chocolate," says chocolate expert Nicola Porter. "It has a high sugar content and the natural cocoa butter in fine chocolate is replaced with cheaper, unhealthy substitute vegetable fats." Limit yourself to two or three squares, eat it slowly and savour it – yes, you can do it!



Or even just 15 minutes, if you can’t spare an hour. "During any day specifically devoted to your health, you must include something purely aimed at your own happiness," says Ben Renshaw. This is an ideal time for some light exercise you really enjoy, like a walk, a jog, or a swim. Or else read a chapter of a great book, call up an old friend you’ve not heard from in a long time, or sit on the beach, or beside a lake or park and watch the world drift by.


Spending time with friends is vitally important. If it’s not too cold, socialise outside and enjoy the sun and fresh air. Resolve to be a social butterfly, mix and chat with new people – and flirt a little! Flirting isn’t all about romance and sex. According to flirt coach Peta Heskell, "It’s about connecting with people, getting to know them better and feeling great about yourself."


Warm evenings are a delight, so make the most of them. Studies from Texas University show that people recover from stress and illness better when exposed to suburban landscapes rather than urban ones. Ben Renshaw recommends you spend time each day among greenery – pottering in the garden, running barefoot on the lawn, even just tending to your houseplants. This is also the perfect time to reflect on your day.

"Ask yourself, 'What did I do that I really enjoyed today?'” he says. "Capture that good news and share it – it’s a very powerful, health-giving psychology."


The unwinding process you’ve already begun will doubtlessly help you have a great night’s sleep, but according to sleep expert Jessica Alexander, you can do more to encourage the process. "A warm bath with essential oils, soothing music and a nice massage is an ideal way to round off your day," she says. "Give yourself a lot of time to wind down and relax before bed. You’ll sleep like a baby." And tomorrow, your body will be fully recharged, ready to enjoy another great, health-filled 24 hours... NH

Alex Gazzola is a writer specialising in health, food, nutrition and food sensitivities. He is the author of Living with Food Intolerance (Sheldon Press), and he is currently writing a book on Coeliac Disease. His website is www.alexgazzola.co.uk

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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.