We all want to be “healthy”, but true wellness is so much more than trying to eat the right foods and exercising (often begrudgingly). True well being is a lifestyle and state of mind, one in which radiant health is purely habitual and brings great JOY.
Along with exercise and proper nutrition (I don’t like the word “diet”, it sounds so restrictive!), there are many other ways to enhance our own well being, greatly enhancing the life experience. Below are my blank top tips for feeling and looking your BEST!
1. Starting with good nutrition…We literally are what we eat! Everything we put in our body has a reaction. Healthy food creates a healthy mind and body, even working to enhance mood, energy levels, and of course a healthy body weight. Certain foods affect our moods when the levels of certain neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, are influenced. People tend to be more alert when their brains produce the chemical messengers, dopamine and norepinephrine, while the production of serotonin tends to have a calming, relaxing effect.
Protein-rich foods raise the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine and produce feelings of alertness and faster reaction times, while at the same time blocking serotonin production. Sources of protein include beans, cheese, eggs, fish, meat and milk.
Foods that help with serotonin production and give the feeling of relaxation are high in carbs. Sources include grains, fruits and natural sugars.
I always advise to shop the OUTER aisles of the grocery, where all of the natural, unprocessed foods are. You want to aim to eat the “colors of the rainbow” every single day. Why? Phytochemicals. These powerful substances occur naturally only in plants and provide health benefits beyond those that essential nutrients provide. Color, such as what makes a blueberry so blue, can indicate some of these substances, which are thought to work synergistically with vitamins, minerals, and fiber (all present in fruits and vegetables) in whole foods to promote good health and lower disease risk. The brighter, the better! 🙂
I will be adding more easy, healthy recipes and ideas every day, to help make your healthy living experience as delicious and FUN as possible.
2. Exercise. This is such a dreaded word for many, but it doesn’t have to be. Like anything that creates a healthy lifestyle, exercise needs to be incorporated as a HABIT. For those of you swearing you have “absolutely NO time”, yes you do. I put on my exercise first thing every single morning. I get up half an hour early, while the house is still quiet. (Some days this is 4 am.) The most important thing is to be active. Your body doesn’t know if it’s in the gym or walking quickly through a parking lot. If you stop for groceries, park at the end of the lot and walk swiftly to and from the store. Get up every hour and do two minutes of jumping jacks or other movement. By the end of the day, you will have incorporated at least 24 minutes of physical activity into your day! 🙂
Exercise creates all kinds of wonderful “feel good” chemicals in the brain, and I wouldn’t skip this part of my regimen for the world. It’s incredible benefits are so numerous, I make time no matter what else is going on. More exercise tips in my newsletter. We can all do this, together!
3. Drink water. We hear this all the time, but it’s health benefits are undeniable. The importance of drinking water cannot be emphasized enough. It is the easiest and most effective health tip of all. Try to drink 2 litres a day. Not only does it hydrate your brain but it helps you maintain great skin, too! If you don’t like the taste of plain water, add a few drops of lemon or even peppermint stevia. Get creative!
4. Develop a solid spiritual life. Whether it’s organized religion, journaling, prayer or meditation, some form of “turning inward” is necessary to promoting a sense of calm, peace and balance, enhancing overall well being. Like exercise, do some form of spiritual practice daily for best results.
I find journaling helps to clarify any issues I may be uncertain with in my life, especially when done first thing in the morning. Experiment with what works for YOU! Again, more on these practices in my daily and weekly updates.
5. Get plenty of rest. Easier said, than done, I know. Recent studies show that less than five hours of sleep at night can double your risk of being diagnosed with angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Interestingly enough, the same appears to be true when you sleep MORE than nine hours per night.
For restful sleep, keep your bedroom stress free – leave anything related to work or stress in another room. Begin dimming the lights about 6 pm, which will help the body begin producing the sleep hormone melatonin. Invest in good pillows and a good quality mattress, and make sure your room is cool, and power down hormone disrupting cell phones, Ipad’s, tv’s, etc. Avoid heavy meals or drinks containing caffeine containing before bedtimes.
If you do struggle with insomnia, you may want to consider supplementing with melatonin and/or tryptophan. (Check with your doctor first.)
6. Look on the bright side! Once you begin to nurture your body with healthy food and exercise, you will find yourself feeling more optimistic about the changes you’re making and LIFE in general! Having and keeping a bright outlook keeps you motivated and moving forward. It also inspires you to make more positive decisions. Did you know…Studies have shown that the act of smiling, even when feeling down, creates a positive mood? 🙂
7. Keep and develop close relationships. Surrounding yourself with friends ensures you enjoy and lead a happier, healthier life. Keeping in contact with those you love can reduce feelings such as anxiety and depression. Even a quick daily note or brief phone call has proven beneficial!
8. Acknowledge your strengths. So many of us spend time focusing on our weakness’s instead of our strengths. Try writing down what you believe to be your top 10 strengths and come back to them when you’re having a bad day. (Yes, they are there! :))
9. Be grateful. At the end of the day, think of 5-10 things you are grateful for. Even in the most trying of times, there are lovely things to put our attention on. Your child’s smile. The delicious meal you had. The smile of a stranger. The fact your hair is clean…You get the idea. I find this practice moves me out of negative thoughts pretty quickly, every time.
10. LAUGH. Laughter is the BEST medicine, something we can all do. Laughter boosts blood flow. 15 minutes of laughter a day as well as exercise, can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Laughing has also been found to help fight infections, relieve hay fever, ease pain, lower stress levels and control breathing. Next time you are feeling down, or just need a “boost”, watch a funny movie or whatever brings a chuckle. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun. Sharing a laugh with someone else is even more powerful, so be sure to surround yourself with playful people who don’t take themselves, or life, too seriously. Positive feelings and joy are contagious!