Health is a habit + a lifestyle!
Congratulations on taking the first step to a healthier you! You’ve already put positive energy and change into motion that will affect your future simply by seeking out holistic lifestyle options and information! Before you can embark on adopting a healthier lifestyle you must make a conscious commitment. If you’re not mentally on board for change your efforts will be futile. This does not mean you will be perfect. It only means you will continually strive for positive change and take action. Often times you may find yourself overwhelmed or a bit frustrated with the plethora of information from the magazines, media and medical community regarding what is actually good or bad for you. Every other day it seems there is a new study that shows findings contradictory to what you knew and trusted yesterday.
Welcome to the joys of becoming your own health advocate! As you become an active participant in your health and lifestyle please make the commitment to listen to your own body, trust your instincts, and become more aware of how your feeling as you seek answers. If you’re in the USA you live in a pharmaceutical nation. The market share of pharmaceutical consumption in the USA alone rose from 18.4% of the world total in 1976 to over 52% in 2000, according to the World Health Organization. There’s always a new pill or potion promising “too good to be true” results, with of course side effects that are often worse than the initial condition! Symptoms are too commonly passed off as syndromes and the root causes are left untreated. It is understandable that a clear direction and path to getting healthy seems often times skewed at best. Blame it on the media, blame it on the corporate greed, but in the end being healthy is an individual decision plain and simple. Below are some universally agreed to healthy habits that are impossible for anyone to dispute and can serve as a springboard to a healthier more vibrant you!
Keep it simple to kick-start your new healthy habits!
If you are just getting started on making healthy habits part of a new holistic lifestyle. Keep in mind health is a life long marathon, not a race! You can’t just flip a switch to be healthy then go back to your old bad habits. BUT you can be healthier than the day before-mentally, emotionally, physically, energetically and spiritually. Don’t fret if you slip up and fall back on some bad tendencies. Everyone has a moment of weakness from time-to-time or “falls off the wagon” but it is what you do habitually over time that will make the biggest impact on your overall health and wellbeing (Tweet Worthy!) Celebrate your little victories and stay positive. Your positive thoughts and energy will recharge, heal and motivate you.
“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” -Karen Lamb
10 healthy habits you can start NOW:
- No fast food! This includes Subway with high sodium and hormone-rich processed meats with nitrates. If you never eat another ‘mystery meat’ fast food meal for the rest of your life you will be much better off! If you currently eat fast food there is a good chance your brain is addicted to trans fats, sodium, and sugar. Keep in mind you will go through withdraw and feel worse before you feel better. Must watch documentaries are Food Inc., Food Matters, The Future of Food, and Heal.
- Increase your water intake. It is estimated more than 75% of people are chronically dehydrated…assume you’re one of them. Dehydration can cause headaches, chronic fatigue, toxicity, digestive issues, premature aging, and high cholesterol. Many of these symptoms then go on to pose more serious health risks. Every cell in your body needs to be properly hydrated to function properly and flush toxins. If you live in a hot climate, drink caffeine or consume alcohol you may need even more hydration. Dehydration not only affects your mental and physical state but also can lead to blockages in your energy body as well.
- Eliminate all sodas (diet and regular). This may be a real challenge if you’re an avid soda drinker. Find something else to quench your thirst. Some suggestions are natural iced tea or fresh squeezed lemonade sweetened with Stevia, mineral water with a slice of lime or maybe coconut water. Sodas dehydrate you. Even the ‘healthier’ sodas made with organic cane sugar are loaded with sugar, and sugar consumption (organic or not) is a major cause of degenerative diseases, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Diet or sugar-free sodas are no better and in many cases worse as they are loaded with cancer-causing artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Aspartame. There are some soda’s found at natural health food stores and online such as Zevia and Organic Blue Sky that are zero calories and sweetened with Stevia (a natural plant-derived sweetener). They do not contain synthetically derived ingredients.
- Start a weekly grocery list that includes 10-12 seasonal fruits and vegetables. Buy from local farmers markets first whenever possible. The less your food travels before it ends up on your plate the higher nutrients it will yield while carrying a lower carbon footprint for the environment. Plus you would be surprised on how much cheaper naturally grown pesticide-free produce is at your farmers market or CSA compared to your chain grocer. A good site to get you started in the right direction, LocalHarvest.org and a good guide to reducing pesticide consumption are the EWG’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen.
- Read food labels and eliminate harmful ingredients. Eliminate all foods containing synthetic preservatives, artificial flavors and/or coloring, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), corn syrup, Aspartame aka AminoSweet (NutraSweet, Equal and Candarel) and trans fats. GM ingredients are not labeled so please follow this link for more info on identifying GM ingredients. If all this sounds like a lot that’s because it is. If you want a quicker easier plan than start avoiding processed and packaged foods in general and eat whole foods as much as possible. This will eliminate these ingredients for the most part and help cleanse your body naturally of toxins from the inside out. Clean eating also raises your energy vibration. Food should be in their ‘whole food’ form as nature intended. A good rule of thumb is if its made in a lab don’t eat it. If it has a ton of ingredients you can’t understand don’t eat it. Minimally processed and fresh whole foods are what’s lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD) and is why the US population is largely sick and obese.
- Turn off your television (and laptop, smartphone) and take it OUTDOORS OR GET MOVING! DO something you enjoy each day for at least 30 minutes. Go for a hike, walk your dogs, take a yoga class, etc. Whatever you choose, do something that motivates you and releases you from the daily grind. Exercise helps you reduce stress and boosts your mood and self-esteem. It releases ‘feel good’ endorphins and it’s pretty hard to have negative thoughts when you’re on a runners high or taking in some beautiful scenery. Take special notice to how you feel immediately before and after you exercise and eventually maybe even add on to your 30 minutes.
- Stop all negative self-talk–Catch yourself mid-thought and reverse it! You will not completely stop having negative thoughts at first. Negative thoughts will creep in based on habit and that is normal so don’t beat yourself up if that happens. Self-criticism is negative energy which does no good for you on a physical, mental, emotional or energetic level. You will start to build awareness of just how many negative thoughts you have each day just by bringing awareness to your thoughts! As you recognize them, whenever any negative self-chatter strikes you, immediately refocus your attention to something positive. It is much easier to switch to a positive thought that it is to stop a negative one, so flip it! A positive thought carries 10x more energy than a negative thought so don’t get discouraged if you catch yourself being overly negative at first. That will change! And when it does you will start to notice changes in your mood, physical body, and your environment.
- Take time to be alone. Finding time to reflect on the day and your thoughts are important. Consider keeping a journal which is ideal and allows you to write your intentions, aspirations, and thoughts privately for you to reflect on. Writing also heals and helps you to process your emotions that if left suppressed and buried can cause disease in the body. Start a gratitude journal and take time every day to reflect on what you are grateful for and what is going well in your life, then free write with whatever comes to mind. Track your healthy habits. goals and intentions. Write about how you want your health to be a month, six months or a year from now. You will be surprised just how much manifests from your journal!
- Meditate and find stillness. Even if it is only for 5 minutes a day! Sit quietly in a comfortable position and take a few calming breaths, relax, and let your thoughts come and go, paying them no judgment or attention while you focus on your breath. Thoughts will come up and that is okay and NORMAL-just let them pass. Easy come, easy go! Start with 5 minutes a day…and maybe that turns into 10, 15, and then 20 or 30! Most studies show meditation for only 20 minutes per day is effective. If you’re overwhelmed start small and build in increments and watch my video on effective meditation techniques for beginners.
- BREATHE Deeply! Unfortunately, a side effect of modern society is low shallow chest breathing. Breathing is responsible for flushing toxins, a healthy lymphatic system, circulation and the quickest way to stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Our PNS is responsible for telling our bodies during times of stress or anxiety that it is okay to calm down and relax. Also focusing our attention on our breath has an instant calming effect because it brings our awareness to the present moment, where all is always well. To practice true breathing fill your diaphragm, then the middle of your chest, then the upper chest area. The air should flow in and out like a wave. Doing this for a few minutes will have an instant calming effect on your nervous system and excellent to do before bed to help you wind down.