When most of people think of being healthy, they usually think of eating a healthy diet and exercising. Although those are very important, they are not the only factors involved in living a vibrant life.
All too often I see people investing a lot of time, energy and money on buying and preparing healthy food or paying for fitness club memberships to exercise only to still be overweight and feel frustrated. I’ve learned, living a healthy, high-energy life requires looking at your whole life, and your whole self, both inside and out. When we overlook other very important lifestyle factors like getting proper rest, downtime, play, fun and connection we suffer and certainly do not get the lasting results we desire.
How we feel and think on a daily basis are just as important components to our health and looking good as the mechanics of how we move and the food we use to fuel ourselves. In other words, we must think holistically – at our whole lifestyle, mind, body and spirit to be able to achieve the results we want.
When you consider your healthy lifestyle, do you also think about:
- Your stress level
- How much recovery and down time you have
- How you think/your beliefs/self-talk – your anxiety level, optimism, expectations, confidence, etc.
- Getting regular sunshine
- Having meaningful relationships with people you care about and trust
- Connecting with nature regularly
- Minimizing toxins in both home and personal care and hygiene products
- Ensuring you enjoy regular play and fun
Without addressing these lifestyle factors, we will never reach the levels of wellness we aspire to and will be perpetually frustrated and lose our joy (and boy is that unhealthy!).
To make it easy for you, I’ve put together a checklist of four of the key foundational areas to look at when considering your health holistically. Next time you find yourself frustrated or falling short of your goals, have a look at them and see how many you can check off on your list!
Key Lifestyle Area #1: Diet and Nutrition
- No one-size-fits-all solution – Must learn to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – How You Should Feel After!
- Learn about the hormonal impact of food and macronutrients – All calories are NOT created equal!
- Eat an Ancestral Diet = high in healthy fats, with adequate protein and low in net carbs (no sugar, processed foods, fake foods, etc)
- Eat REAL FOOD – Eliminate packaged, processed foods, soda, fruit juice, “sports drinks”
- To achieve ideal weight, you must determine your personal Carbohydrate Threshold or Quotient, eat adequate, high-quality protein and plenty of good fat
- The longer the shelf life, worse is for you – do a Kitchen Makeover and clean out the crap!
- Read all labels – Can a Kindergarten kid pronounce the ingredients?
- Identify personal food intolerances or allergies
- Make Sure at Least One-Third of Your Food Is Raw
- Eliminate All Wheat, Gluten, and Highly Allergenic Foods from Your Diet (Wheat, Soy, White flour products (baked goods, cookies, and pastries), Rye, Teff, Spelt, Kamut, Barley, Couscous)
- Low energy, acne/skin, gastrointestinal problems: bloating, diarrhea, cramping, constipation = symptoms of intolerance
- Non-gluten grains: Rice, Corn, Buckwheat, Millet
- Eliminate Transfats -like hydrogenated oils and shortening
- Understand Serving Sizes and portions
- Avoid Soy
- Fast 12 hours
- Consider Basic Supplements – probiotic, Magnesium, Vitamin C and D
- Get Adequate Sun Exposure– Optimized vitamin D levels may significantly lessen your risk for cancer, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, age-related macular degeneration, and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin D can also combat infections and control seizures, especially for epileptics.
- Use The Hunger Scale – (0-10: “0” = stuffed and “10” = famished) eat between a 5-6 -Never get stuffed/Starved. Eat until 80% full and then stop. (for proper digestion, weight loss and energy)
- SLOW DOWN when you eat. TASTE and CHEW each bite. Never Eat when stressed
- RX: Drink a minimum of ½ your body weight in ounces of pure water per day.
Key Lifestyle Area #2: Exercise and Movement
- Vital to life and all proper bodily functions – both physical, mental and emotional
- The primary benefit of exercise is not necessarily weight loss but instead to make you more sensitive to insulin, burn excess glucose and to engage all your bodily systems and hormones
- Being fit and losing weight is NOT a matter of “calories in and calories out”. It’s about understanding the different metabolic and hormonal effects of different foods and macro-nutrients as well as ideal exercise timing for maximum effect
- Exercise format balance = Key. You want VARIETY:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT). This requires just 20 to 30 seconds of maximum effort, followed by 90 to 100 seconds of rest. HIIT improves your muscle tone, promotes higher energy levels, enhanced production of the HGH, or human growth hormone, and leads to increased calorie burn.
- Strength training – Improve muscle strength, tone, and elasticity, create strong connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments, and slow down and even reverse risk of Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
- Yoga and Active isolated stretching (AIS)
- Cardiovascular- increases mitochondria, oxygen transport and circulation/detox
- Balance, Agility, Speed and Power
Key Lifestyle Area #3: Proper Sleep and Rest
- Ideal amount of sleep per night = 8 hours minimum
- Sleep is essential for proper repair and revitalization of all body cells, tissues, organs and systems
- Needed for detoxification and anti-aging
- Deficiency can lead to weight gain (because levels of appetite-inducing hormones rise) and affects brain, reducing ability to think and focus also increases sugar/carb cravings when sleep deprived
- Lack of proper sleep is associated with higher risk of depression and chronic diseases – diabetes, cardiovascular and heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer
- Resting as needed is part of the repair and rebuild requirement of your body. Listen to it and slow down, unplug and rest as needed – with NO GUILT! We are not machines. We are human!
Tips for Getting Great Sleep
- Expose yourself to sunlight during the day – especially in the morning. This will increase your serotonin and happy chemicals.
- Refraining from using electronics at least 2 hours before bedtime: TV, computer, phone (emit blue light that tricks your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime – hinders the pineal gland from secreting melatonin at an optimal time, usually between 9 and 10 pm.)
- Establish “wind-down” routine. The body likes routine.
- Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
- Sleep in complete darkness – melatonin, reduces body temperature and hunger and optimizes your circadian and improves gene expression and cellular growth and repair as well.
- Keep room cool/fresh air: Ideal room temperature = 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit
- Taking a warm bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime – raises your core body temperature, when you get out of the bath, the temperature drops, signaling your body that you’re ready for sleep.
- Exercise contributes to better sleep but ideally not within 3-4 hours of bedtime.
- Nap wisely: taking long naps during the day disrupts your body’s circadian rhythm, or your body’s internal clock. Ideally, keep naps a maximum of 20 minutes, at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
- Don’t eat 3 hours before bedtime, otherwise the digestive process can interfere with your natural sleep cycles
- Listen to meditation or relaxation CDs before bed to help unwind
- Do 5 minutes of deep breathing at bedtime
- Use aromatherapy/essential oils like Lavender, Serenity, Peace and Calming or Sandlewood – either diffused or topically
- Get a massage at the end of the day
- Read a relaxing book
- Write an “End of the Day Gratitude List” of all the things you were grateful for that day (no matter how small!)
- Journal – write your thoughts and emotions to get them out of your head and help you process, release and reframe them
- Drink hot water with lemon before bed or Chamomile tea
- See Foundation #4 below (you need a fun/stress outlet so you can rest)
Key Lifestyle Area #4: Regular Play and Social Connection
- Make a Happiness/Fun List of things you love to do and that make you feel good
- This is important for your mental and emotional health and your overall quality of life.
- Research has shown that strong social ties and connections are as powerful for promoting good health as exercising regularly and not smoking
- Getting regular play and fun promotes creativity and problem-solving
- Fun is one of the best (and cheapest) anti-aging potions we know of!
- They are powerful stress-relievers
- They prevent overindulging in “naughty” foods, activities and emotions due to “lack of fun and fulfillment” in your overall life
- We evolved with tribes. We are social beings and it’s in our DNA to connect and collaborate with others. Loneliness and feelings of isolation are very damaging to the heart and blood vessels.
- Strong social ties give meaning to our lives
- All work and no play make you a dull person 🙂