Many people associate a new year with the excitement of a fresh start and renewed motivation to be the best versions of themselves. But when you’re on a journey to conceive, a new year can also be a painful reminder that more time has passed without an addition to your family.
Regardless of what the calendar says, it’s always a good time to incorporate healthy lifestyle upgrades. It’s not about taking things away, punishing yourself, or creating restrictive habits that will only lead to more stress. Think of the new year as a way to nourish your body in fresh ways and to add more of what makes you feel like the best version of YOU!
When it comes to a new year, I believe in setting intentions rather than goals. A goal is focused more on an end result in the future. It can set the expectation that if we don’t reach that goal that we’ve failed. An intention allows us to be more gentle with ourselves. It’s set forth as a theme for your journey rather than a set beginning and end. This allows us to put value in the process and being rather than doing.
Here are some of my favorite “resolutions” or intentions to support your fertility:
Manage Stress: Let the turning of the calendar be the motivation you need to adopt healthy strategies for managing your stress. Growing a family can feel incredibly stressful - not to mention the normal stressors of everyday life (career, relationships, environmental). You can read about some of my favorite tools for managing stress here!
Balance Blood Sugar: Insulin resistance is a known barrier to fertility. Women with PCOS are particularly at risk for developing insulin resistance. The good news is - insulin resistance can be reversed with supportive lifestyle changes. Here’s what I recommend, but always check with your own medical provider before making any changes to your own lifestyle:
A Mediterranean Style Diet: While I don’t subscribe to a specific, one-size-fits-all diet, I do think there are many benefits to the Mediterranean diet for those on a fertility journey. This includes lots of fiber-rich fruit and vegetables, healthy fats from sources like olive oil and wild caught fish, high quality protein like beans, lentils, and organic chicken, and minimally processed grains.
Daily Movement: Studies show that regular exercise increases insulin sensitivity, among a multitude of other benefits. This can feel difficult to incorporate in an already busy day, so I recommend getting creative and finding exercise routines that work for your lifestyle instead of against it. That might mean picking up the pace while you walk your dog, using your lunch break to do a 20 minute online PIlates class, or carving out time in your schedule to go to a group fitness class.
Sufficient Sleep: Getting adequate rest is another research-backed way to improve insulin sensitivity. More on that next!
Optimize Sleep: Poor sleep is associated with a multitude of health issues, including those that affect fertility. While you can’t force yourself to sleep, you can set up an environment that supports optimal rest. Here’s what I recommend:
Lighting: Dim the lights in your home around two hours before your goal bedtime, and minimize exposure to blue light (no late night social media scrolling!) at least one hour before bed.
Create a Wind Down Routine: I love taking a warm bath, diffusing lavender or chamomile essential oils, practicing breathing exercises, and journaling to end the day. I may not have time for all of those things each day, but I incorporate as much as I can to separate the busyness of the day from a restful night’s sleep.
More Protein: I recommend that at least 20% of your day’s calories come from protein, and that you eat a protein rich dinner to avoid nocturnal hypoglycemia. If your dinner is more than three hours before bedtime, try a high protein snack (like an apple and nut butter) before bed to keep your blood sugar balanced through the night.