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I don’t put much faith in resolutions. I love the challenge of a new goal, but I have never found it particularly effective to make January the moment to say what I will or will not do this year.

To me, those moments are more organic. A resolution isn’t something you set; it is something you gain because your resolve emerges when you realize what you are doing day in and day out is not delivering what you want to experience in your life. Resolve doesn’t happen because you wrote a list. So write it down and even make plans to make each wish become a reality. But along the way, get busy living your life and doing more and more of what makes you feel alive.

In 2018, 24Life is dedicated to just that: doing more of what lights you up. More energy. More sex. More sleep. More sweat. More purpose. More delicious food and definitely more fun. And we know your heart and soul need your body to play full out. We didn’t invent workouts, but we make them matter. We know that when you move your body, you move your life. Magic happens on the mat, in the studio, on the bike. When you hit the road, you’re running for a reason, toward something you want—a better version of yourself, a better day, a better version of the world.

Each month this year, we will present a 24Life challenge for you (and for us). The challenges will be based on the pillars that we believe hold up a happy, healthy life—mindset, movement, nourishment and regeneration—and they are not your typical 30-day challenges. They will take you as long as they take you because you set the cadence, control the calendar and make the choices. As you master each, you’ll embody 24 principles of health and fitness—not just for this year but for life.

January’s challenge

In January, we challenge you to feed your life with better eating. If you want to feel alive and bring your goals to life once and for all, then you have to fuel your body for the win—whether you want to train like an Olympian, lose weight or simply commit to feeling amazing. It is time to challenge your relationship to food and light up your meals, and in doing so, lighten up your life. Here is a short road map to get you started.

Crowd it out

Millions of people suffer needlessly from chronic disease and/or lack energy to do the things they want with their life. There are foods that ought to have less room in your diet because they are the usual suspects for sensitivity and disease factors: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn and (grouped together) sugar and artificial sweeteners, processed food and alcohol.

Since we know no one has ever been motivated by being told what not to eat, our challenge to you is to crowd out those foods with what you should be consuming—particularly, more plants and water. Regardless of what eating plan you are on, your body will benefit from an increase in consumption of dark leafy greens and fresh, clean water.

1. Greens

Eating more greens does not mean you’re stuck with a life of salads, and there is an abundance of dark leafy greens that you likely have yet to try. Dark leafy greens are known to be high in nutrition and support the body with oxygenation, alkalization and detoxification. We challenge you to make three-quarters of your plate healthy greens—at every meal.

Experiment with adding greens to your foods for texture and diversity of flavor. Wild greens like arugula are a great option to start. Over time, you will crowd out the other starchy fillers in your diet with real food that is full of life energy and is also gentle on the planet.

Tip: Want to lean more into a plant-based diet? Try a meatless Monday. Fill yourself up with green goodness by making plants the focus of your meals all day, every Monday. For awesome ideas, check out Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Forward recipe resource, or if you need plant-based meals designed to fuel your inner athlete, download the 7-Part Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a No Meat Athlete.

2. Water

Water is a smart strategy every way you swish it. To get your hydration fix, start and end every day with 16 to 20 ounces of water, and every 50 minutes, drink another glass that’s at least 8 ounces.

Up your hydration when you work out, and crowd out loaded coffee drinks, alcohol, diet soda and sugar-laden juices.

At mealtime, sip water and avoid drinking too much water with your food because it may inhibit digestion of your meal.

Tip: Grab a super-motivational timer water bottle like this good-vibes option from Blogilates and gamify your new drinking habit throughout the day.

Eat for you

Biochemical individuality is not a new concept. Biochemist Dr. Roger Williams pioneered this concept in 1956, and we now know today that although humans are connected, we still maintain our unique individuality in physiology and more. Biochemical individuality says that the nutritional and chemical makeup of a person is unique, and thus your nutritional needs are unique to you.

This doesn’t discount advice and protocols on sound nutrition, but it does mean that there is more to the story than calories in, calories out and whole food. It means you need to do a literal gut check to understand the appropriateness of a particular regimen for you, perhaps starting with a genetic assessment like this one or this one. You’ll also want to dig deeper to understand the psychological influences that shape what, why and how you eat.

1. Gut-check your diet

Your microbiome comprises trillions of bacteria that live in your colon, mouth, eyes, genitalia, gut and on your skin. These impact your daily function on many levels, including but not limited to your immune system, endocrine system, cognition and nervous system.

Expect to hear more about gut health this year. If you suffer from metabolic, skin or digestive issues, fatigue or mood disorders, you might want to consider a comprehensive assessment of your gut flora via a company like Viome.

We challenge you to a daily probiotic and prebiotic regimen. Sources like the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics advise consuming 25 to 38 grams of dietary fiber, 5 to 20 grams of prebiotic fiber and 20 grams of resistant starch.

Use naturally fiber-rich foods like veggies and legumes to crowd out foods that wreak havoc on your gut, like overly processed foods, alcohol and sugar. Try gut-friendly foods such as kefir and raw garlic and fermented foods like pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut.

Tip: Know your terminology: Prebiotics feed the bacteria already living in your gut, while probiotics introduce a direct infusion of bacteria that were not present in the system. Synbiotics are supplements that combine probiotics and prebiotics.

2. Eat consciously

Many of us eat because we are bored, thirsty, anxious or stressed, and often as a result of habit or environmental cues. We eat on the run, on the phone, in our cars, at our desks and with others, but we hardly ever stop to consider why and how.

We challenge you to start every meal or snack with these two questions. Why am I eating? Will eating this (in this way, setting, etc.) truly nourish me?

Tip: Create a set of your own food mantras—for example, “I eat only when seated at a table,” “I eat without digital stimulation,” “I share at least one meal a day with others once a week.” For amazing inspiration for your own mantra, read Michael Pollan’s classic book “Food Rules” (Penguin Books, 1 edition 2009).

That’s it. “Crowding it out” and eating for yourself may seem simple, and we know it is not always easy. But remember, you have resolve. Stop eating what doesn’t feed you, start eating what does. Feed your health, feed your life.

Photo credit: Manuel, Adobe Stock; Jennifer Schmidt, Unsplash; Brooke Lark, Unsplash

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