Listen closely: the secret to wellness is really no secret at all. There is no magic pill or fountain of youth. We are all born with a sense of how to stay healthy. Somewhere along the line, we lose track of it through commercials, paper advertising, and other outside influences. Some of us live in communities where the idea of living well has been replaced by the things that taste good and the things that feel good. In order for us to be well, we have to be mindful of the influences around us and make choices that are in line with our goals for longevity. We must have physical health, mental and emotional health, and spiritual health. When one of these areas is off track or out of balance, it throws off all the other systems. If you have gotten off track, as we all have at one time or another, there are some simple ways to get back to basics! We must have nutritious meals, fresh air and sunshine, exercise, rest and sleep, cleanliness, and positive thoughts.
Let’s take a closer look at nutrition. Each group of foods contains nutrients that feed our bodies. The nutrients give us the energy we need to make it to the next meal, to repair damage to the body, and to prevent disease. Each time you eat or drink, you are either fueling your body or doing damage to it. It helps to remember this when you are making choices. Reading ingredient labels is so much more important than checking the calories per serving. If you cannot pronounce or identify an ingredient, you should not be eating it! There is a trend right now called “Clean Eating” that aims to remove the chemicals from your diet. Your great-grandparents just called it “eating.” Shop the perimeter of the store and buy foods that don’t have a label. In other words, buy “food” and not “food-like products.” When you’re on the inside aisles of the store, skip canned items when you can get fresh or frozen instead, and stick to products with 5 or less ingredients. And always, drink your water plain. Make one good decision at a time. Nuts over potato chips. Water over juice or soda. Crock pot meal over the drive-thru. Each decision will compound itself over time and lead to big results. Make the good choices, one at a time, and avoid getting burned-out.
Did it surprise you that I added fresh air and sunshine to the list? A healthy dose of sunshine is vital to good health! The UVB rays are bursting with Vitamin D, which is vital for your bone density, heart health, immune system, and even your happiness. Some studies are even suggesting that adequate vitamin D intake prevents certain types of cancer. Step out, get some rays! Begin with just a few mins without sunscreen. You don’t want to prevent the absorption of the vitamin. Apply sunscreen if you plan to stay outdoors for an extended period of time, and, if you are out in the snow or white sand. When you are inside at home or at the office, open the shades!
On to the dreaded part of this equation…Exercise! We know it’s good for us. It makes us feel great, look youthful & fabulous, and helps us maintain strength and vitality even into our golden years. So why do we resist it? The most common excuses I hear are that it is too time consuming, too boring, too expensive, and that people just can’t stay committed. Some people are too embarrassed to even step foot in a gym.
Let me assure you of this: your results and your better life are right there outside of your comfort zone. You get out there and do your best and don’t worry about what others think. They don’t have to live your life – you do!
I can combat every excuse I hear. No time or too embarrassed? Use an at-home program! There are literally thousands of DVD programs for every fitness level. I have even seen people who could not stand up doing workouts from a kitchen chair or a wheelchair until they gained more strength. There are also online accountability groups that will give you a community of like-minded people and tons of motivation. Too expensive? Go to the local park. Walk your driveway. Play with your kids. You can do squats and push-ups at your kitchen counter. Add in some jumping jacks. Do 3 rounds of that and you have done a workout! Keep it simple. The results will come. Don’t try to overhaul everything at once! I always tell my clients to take baby steps. You didn’t become unhealthy overnight and you will not get healthy and fit overnight either. In addition, studies have shown that exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression. Getting your blood pumping releases endorphins throughout your whole body, creating feelings of happiness that combat a bad mood. Any activity counts: an at-home workout, a walk around the block, yoga, dancing – anything that gets you to break a sweat.
How many hours of sleep are you getting? Do you toss and turn all night? You may have a legitimate sleep problem, such as apnea, that needs medical attention. I cannot stress enough how important sleep is! If you think you may have a medical issue, I urge you to see a doctor. Common research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours. When you sleep, your body uses that time to repair itself, arrange your thoughts, balance your metabolism, and boost your immune system. We spend about 1/3 of or lives sleeping, and that is not unproductive time! It plays a direct role in how full, energetic and successful the other 2/3 of our lives can be. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people ate an average of nearly 300 fewer calories per day when they were well rested. Anything that is good for your brain power, mood, and waistline is a winner!
Personal Development is described as activity that improves awareness and identity, develops talents and potential, builds human capital and facilitates employability, enhances quality of life and contributes to the realization of dreams and aspirations, according to a quick Wikipedia search. Before you scowl, realize this is not the same thing as “self-help,” although there is a place in the world for that also. Personal Development can come in the form of books, podcasts, Bible reading, or listening to motivational speakers. As you dive into it, you will grow a self-awareness that will lead to improved focus and effectiveness and a sense of direction. It is great for small-business owners, parents, leaders of large organizations…anyone! You don’t have to spend hours on this. You can listen while you drive, or commit to reading just ten pages a day. There is truth in the old adage ‘Where there is a will there is a way’. With strong personal development, you develop the necessary will.
There are no secrets to being well. Eat right and exercise, have a positive disposition, get some sunshine and sleep. Think about your “why.” Know the reasons that you feel a change needs to be made. Dig deeper than just wanting to look good. Do you want to be more active with your spouse or children? Maybe you have a family history of disease to avoid. When you know what you want to achieve, it is easier for you to see the benefits of taking action. Even when the task ahead is not enjoyable; if you can see a clear benefit, you are more motivated to take the necessary steps. Each one of the things mentioned here can be done alone or as a comprehensive lifestyle change. Don’t be afraid to make small changes, though, one at a time. Small daily changes lead to long-lasting results. You are never too old, too young, too out of shape, or too busy to take care of the body given to you. Find a partner or a coach to help you be accountable. Be an encouragement to others and you will find yourself being encouraged!
You have a choice to live your best life, every single day. Your success depends on your routine and habits.
“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle
If you need help getting started, let’s chat.
Love and Health,