“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.” ― Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty
The first and most important priority for your good health is good sleep. For most of us, a good night’s sleep is illusive to say the least. We all know that insufficient sleep could lead to Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. But did you know that lack of adequate sleep on a regular basis can make you heavier, biologically older and can lead to a higher risk of diabetes and obesity, according to Dr. Frank Lipman, MD, author of How to Be Well. “Quality rest, deep sleep phases allow the brain to protect itself from toxic proteins that accumulate throughout the day and syncing your natural body clock by establishing a regular sleep and wake schedule.” In addition, “finishing your last meal at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed, avoiding alcohol before bed, and being proactive in reducing artificial light exposure (cell phones, iPads, book lights, etc.) can all help toward a more restful night’s sleep”, says Mo Perry, from Experience Life Magazine.
2. Avoid Stagnation:
Shake your booty. Our bodies are made to move. Humans are not made for sedentary lifestyles but over time we have become so distant from our natural state of existence. We spend more time sitting than we do standing or moving, and that lack of exercise leads to disastrous rhythms inside of our bodies and through our inner road structures, our veins and arteries and blood vessels. You’ve heard this before, park far from the entrance to a store, get up and walk and stretch every 1.5 hours while at work, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Be purposeful with your movements, create time to get your body up and out of its sedentary routine. Create a step challenge for yourself to reach every week.
Water, water, everywhere and every drop you should drink, all day, every day. According to healthline.com, “60% of the human body is made up of water. Bottled, filtered, tap, whatever your pleasure, drink, drink, drink your water.” Healthline.com reports that “good hydration ups your physical performance such as at work, through exercise, and maintaining energy throughout your day in general. Losing only 2% of your body water can have significant negative effects on mood, memory, and brain performance.” Water helps pump blood to your heart muscle, facilitates a healthy bowel movement, and gives your cells nutrients. Ideally, drink ½ your weight in water every day.
4. Electronic Breaks:
Take breaks from the computer and cell phone, and all electronic gadgets, unless you use those items for purposeful exercise and technique. Dr. Lipman suggests "creating specific down time from all electronic devices." Is there a time of day where you just can’t take an electronic device with you, say, the shower? Create shower moments where you are detached from your electronic leash. Your mental and emotional health will benefit greatly from the break. Not only that but your sleep will improve as well as your spine, neck, and eyes. According to offthegridnews.com, “dependence on digital devices curbs our natural abilities toward creativity and spatial awareness.” Author of the offthegridnews.com article reports that, “opportunities to use our natural creative resources and skills diminishes with the takeover of electronic dependence such as with GPS and digital maps, harming our ability to make connections and create pathways toward solutions. Our ability to free think and plan becomes less proficient.”
You’ve heard this a million times, exercise. Every day, in some movement specific format, get up and get moving. According to Dr. Kara Parker, “just 2-3 hours a week of moderate to vigorous exercise can help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease as well as bolster cognitive health.” Dr. Parker goes on to say, “balance, stretching, strengthening, aerobic exercise, are all important for current and long-term good health.” If these specific exercises are not possible on any given day, the best you can do for your body is walk.
6. Maintain and Sustain:
Making maintainable and sustainable goals reachable right away is key to making your good health a priority. If you can’t start the moment you decide to make changes that matter, the harder it will be to ever start. Start small. Eat a carrot and you have begun. This is not your mother’s new year resolution. This is your way to get started and create new habits that will last a lifetime. Food is a good place to begin. Instead of choosing a quick cookie when you get home from work, drink water. Often times we are thirsty rather than hungry. Instead of choosing a piece of bread with dinner, create a whole grain side using farro or buckwheat or lentils mixed with vegetables. Taking care of your good health starts at the top (your mouth) and works its way throughout the whole body. If we don’t make time for wellness, we will be forced to make time for illness.
7. Surround yourself with motivation:
Having an inspiring kitchen to work in is more than half the battle. If your kitchen is disorganized, chances are you won’t feel inspired to create or work in that kind of chaos. Clear the clutter means not only making workspace on the counters but also in your pantry. A healthy lifestyle can’t have unhealthy food items. If you want to create ease with healthier eating habits, then eliminate the temptations of foods that are unhealthy. Stack the deck in your favor and either make the unhealthy foods not reachable or don’t bring them in to the house at all. Making an investment in your family’s and your health is important for the long haul. If eating healthy on a regular basis seems too daunting in the beginning, create one cheat day per week or month. Don’t overload your cheat day with unhealthy options but choose your cheat meal or snack and look forward to it. You may find that you don’t want to undo all that you have been working so hard to achieve.
8. Healthy comes in many forms:
Physical health is important but so is mental health. If your thoughts are not in line with the good habits you are trying to create, then your chance of success is only half attainable. There are ways to make mental health align with physical health by creating a written plan of action, having an accountability partner you can talk to, and creating a routine, and reward yourself for as many small to big wins as you like. And while we are talking about mental health, emotional health follows close behind. Our emotions can wreak havoc on our bodies by wanting sugar or carbs when we are feeling out of control, sad, tired or frustrated. Work it out with physical fitness, go for a long walk, eat a crunchy salad, or write in a journal or meditate. Don’t take out an emotional upheaval using the wrong kinds of food or out of sync habits.
9. It’s a date:
Habits get created by repeating what we do and the way we do it. In this case, creating a habit to be good to yourself begins with making you the priority. Just like when you fly on an airplane and the oxygen mask comes down, put yours on first so you can help others. Your body and good health are no different. You can’t show up for your life events if you are run down. Make you the priority by scheduling time to take care of you throughout the day. Schedule yourself on your calendar every day. You might even inspire a friend to join you for a walk or a salad.
10. Know your WHY:
Knowing why you are changing your habits, or why you are wanting to eat right, or why you are choosing to make your good health a priority is key to total success. It is like a mantra you can come back to over and over again. Support your why with motivational quotes all around you, support your why with the help of your family and friends, support your why with the reminders of what got you here in the first place and support your why with success talk and not failure talk. List out all the reasons you are doing this and making this the start of a beautiful life.
Photo Credits: Lux Graves, Ahmad Odeh, Jacek Dylag, Ascend Experience, Ascend Experience, Alexa Williams, Ascend Experience, Ascend Experience, Marek Tamaleea, Evan Denise