21 Days of TLC
Forget those auld acquaintances-the New Year has arrived! Along with it? A bevy of email blasts and Facebooks posts piling on the pressure for you to be perfect in 2016: “Don’t drink” “Don’t smoke” “Don’t eat processed foods”. Now, don’t get us wrong, we are completely 100% on board with this advice but it just always seems to be all about the “don’ts”.
If you’ve been minding your fertility health, you’ve already (fingers crossed) dropped the butts, kicked the bottle and started working more leafy greens into your diet. Stress, however, is a grossly underestimated, major player in the trying-to-conceive game. So, this year, why not resolve to focus on the de-stressing “do’s” in life and pick up some new healthy habits too instead of just dropping the bad ones?
Here, we present “21 Days of TLC”–a string of new, healthy habits for you to pick up, day-by-day, that offer little old you some big time tender loving care. Research has shown that it takes a minimum of 21 days to adjust to a new behavior. So sit back, relax and spend the next 3 weeks taking care of yourself. Let’s get started:
New Habit #1 Stress Less. Feel a high-stress moment creeping up? Have a plan of attack to take a time out for yourself. Practice a new breathing technique or recite a calming mantra–or both! Figure out what works for you and vow to yourself that you will follow through. The key is to keep it short & simple.
New Habit #2 Get Scheduled. If you’ve been trying to conceive for more than one year with no luck, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an infertility specialist. If you are over 35 years old, experts suggest waiting no more than 6 months of trying. Speaking with an expert is the best way to learn how to increase fertility. Make your appointment now and stick to it. (An added bonus: that nagging voice in the back of your head constantly asking if you should see a specialist will finally go away.)
New Habit #3 Start Saving. For 1 in 8 couples, the path to parenthood brings unexpected costs. While you may think you can’t live without that $6 morning mocha, cutting back on non-necessities can certainly have its perks in the long run. Furthermore, studies have shown that caffeine can have a negative impact on one’s ability to get pregnant so you should be limiting those lattes anyway.
New Habit #4 Write it Down. Connect your mind, body and spirit by keeping an intentions journal. What goals would you like to set for yourself in 2016? Whether it’s keeping up with a fertility boosting weekly yoga class or actually reaching your dreams of starting a family, recording and visualizing your desires can help keep you on the right track.
New Habit #5 Substitute. “Every Friday night my girlfriends would catch up at a nice wine bar. When I suggested we switch to a local tea house instead, everybody was on board. Turns out, they were trying to cut back, too!” – Faye, Columbus, OH. Take a cue from Faye and switch in some more soothing activities.
New Habit #6 Be Firm. About your morning affirmations that is. . . One of our favorites: “My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil.”
New Habit #7 Treat Yourself. It’s been one week! Reward your seven days of self-care with a spa treatment, a long walk on one of your favorite trails or cuddling up with Netflix.
New Habit #8 Get Prepped. Take some time to organize and understand your healthcare insurance now and you will thank yourself all year long. It’s always a good idea to keep your current provider card stowed away in your wallet.
New Habit #9 Move It. Like any good fertility patient, you already know that exercise is critical to a healthy mind and body. But just over a week into the New Year, you may be falling off track. Make sure you work it in and get to working out. Just a brisk walk makes a world of difference.
New Habit #10 Reconnect. You may see your friends, family or partner every day, but how often do you actually connect? Make an effort to spend some QT with someone important to you today.
New Habit #11 Stock Up. Hit your local market for organic produce and healthy eats. Fertility-boosting foods include citrus fruits, broccoli and spinach, which is also high in folic acid. Prepping fruits & veggies in advance–though it may sound like a lot of work–is really a cinch and makes nutritious meals easy all week long.
New Habit #12 Track It. Whether it’s on an old fashioned calendar or a fancy new app, you need to track your cycle–relentlessly. Also: your temperature, any at home fertility test results and especially any symptoms you may have. Cramps in your left lower abdomen? Write it down! A fertility calendar logging these key indicators is critical to help pinpoint your most fertile days.
New Habit #13 Replace. Try filling up your evening wine glass with a bit of bubbly! No, not champagne-we’re talking about sparkling water. Whether you love lime or raspberry, search out an unsweetened option with natural flavors that pleases your palette for a smart sub-in that will help keep you hydrated, too.
New Habit #14 Supplement. Most experts recommend 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for women who are trying to conceive to reduce the risk of neural-tube defects in newborns. If you don’t like taking pills, opt for chewable vitamins.
New Habit #15 Weight a minute. Are you and your partner both in tip top shape? Being overweight can cause serious disturbances in your menstrual cycle. Few people realize that obesity and infertility often go hand in hand–and we’re not just talking about women. Overweight and obese men are reported to have lower sperm quality. Take some time to weigh-in and check your BMI.
New Habit #16 Salute the Sun! Whether you are an advanced yogi or just starting out, the ancient practice of yoga can shift your fertility–and mindset–into new directions. Search out some basic postures online and try incorporating them into your morning ritual.
New Habit #17 Call Me, Maybe. We realize asking anyone to put their phone down these days is pretty unrealistic, but you should be aware of the facts. Research suggests that the radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by cell phones can damage male fertility. If you MUST carry it with you at all times, at least slip it into a messenger bag or look into specially-designed cases that claim to help minimize radiation effects.
New Habit #18 Get Real. In today’s world, the media is constantly bombarding us with illusions of “perfect” families. Even worse, commercials and television shows that make parenting look easy as pie. Understand that these images are completely unrealistic and that your journey is your own. Also, what defines a family to one person is not necessarily what defines a family to someone else. You may already know this, but a daily reminder doesn’t hurt.
New Habit #19 Butt What? If you quit smoking, a huge pat on the back is in order. You’ve made a decision that will not only increase your fertility but add years to your life. However, if your friends–even worse, partner–is still smoking, the battle is not over yet. New studies show that exposure to smoke alone can cause early menopause and even lead to infertility in women. Make it a habit to chill with friends who are smoke-free, too.
New Habit #20 Stick It. Acupuncture for fertility has been around for a long time–and with good reason. One of the most enjoyable fertility boosters available, it can actually stimulate egg production and has been shown to boost IVF success rates. All you have to do? Lay down and relax.
New Habit #21 Yay You. Congratulations! With any luck, you’ve picked up some wonderful new fertility-focused habits and will continue to incorporate them into your healthy lifestyle over the days to come. Your last new habit assignment? Shower yourself with a little TLC all year long.