March is the month to start waking up, time to venture out, exercise and come back to life. Problem is we've convinced ourselves otherwise and we no longer follow the patterns of nature: rising at dawn and bedding down at sunset. We simply have not evolved at the same rate as the lifestyles we crave. Trying to keep up is bad for us.
However, there are simple things you can do to improve your health. Sorting out your gut is a priority - it's 27 feet long, does an important job and most of you abuse it. So how do you know if your nine yards work properly?
If you recognise any of these as regular problems, your gut is in trouble: bloating, indigestion or heartburn, bad breath, less than one good stool a day, haemorrhoids, wind from either end, diarrhoea or constipation, digestive pain, nausea.
You don't have to give yourself a hard time. You may not be able to give up drinking and smoking, but cutting back will really help you - and your gut.
The pay-off is feeling better and having more energy. Your skin will improve. Smokers should reduce consumption and roll their own. Natural American Spirit tobacco is better than regular cigs - it has got no chemicals, compared with 350 in the regular stuff. If you need a drink at the end of the day or week, then buy organic. Again. it's the additives that really hammer your body. Being virtuous has its own pay off - you can treat yourself to a bender at the end of the month.
A sensible daily plan Follow this routine every day. Stick at it for three weeks and your gut will thank you for it.
Waking up Start slowly: give yourself 10 minutes to lie still. Lie on your back and breathe deeply; in through the nostrils and out through the mouth.
Place your hands on your stomach and feel it rise and fall. Be aware of energy slowly building as you do this. Gently begin to tense and release muscles, starting with your feet, up to your abdomen and to your face; scrunch it up and release. This will start your blood pumping. Now you're ready to rise.
Getting up Your body has been repairing while you slept, so don't jolt it.
Start with liquid to smooth and activate the digestive tract - lemon juice in freshly boiled water is perfect.
First trip to the loo You might say Ugh!, but taking time to look at your stool and urine is important. Your first pee helps you measure dehydration - if it's deeper yellow, you need to drink more water; if it's clear, drink less. It shouldn't smell. Then there's your stool. It depends on what you had for dinner, but there should be a sizeable loosely formed load. It ought to be chestnut coloured and pass easily, preferably a couple of times a day. Any less and you're lacking fibre.
Breakfast You want to stimulate, not strangle, the gut. A fruit salad (made last night) or wholemeal toast with butter is simple. Porridge is ideal.
And chew - digestive enzymes start to work in the mouth to lessen the burden on the stomach. Too often we hurry and forget.
Journey Carry snacks and drinks for the day. Journeys are a good time to relax, focus and visualise the day you want to have, with ordered classes, warm smiles and lists ticked.
Morning break Drink herbal tea, fresh fruit juice or bottled water - caffeine irritates your gut. Fruit is good. Beware biscuits.
Lunchtime Eat fresh and lightly. Sandwiches are not only boring but often stodgy, and wheat intolerance can be a major cause of digestive problems and bloating. Try alternatives: brown rice, houmous and raw vegetables, or soup - it's easy to make and it's cheap. Bung loads of fresh green vegetables into the pan and there you are. Eat fruit before your lunch, not after. If it's the last thing to be eaten and broken down, it can begin to ferment in the stomach, making you feel fatigued.
Afternoon break If you get one of these, you might crave chocolate as your blood-sugar levels dip. Chocolate gives you a tiny high, but organic dried apricots give you a better one. Tea or water will rehydrate you.
Hometime Breathe and visualise your ideal evening. Have a quiet 15 minutes before you do anything else - this is the time to let go of the day and start your evening, calmly and energised. Start a new rule: never eat after 8pm. You want your body to repair overnight, not be digesting food.
Lawrence Bogle is a homeopath www.lawrencebogle.com
Buy these groceries every week: lemons, porridge, more fresh fruit and vegetables
Put in your school bag every day: bottled water, dried apricots, tea, a banana Supplements
To restore healthy bacteria: Probio-Daily from highernature.co.uk To unwind: Valerian tincture from nealsyardremedies.com