STAY NOURISHED: Ever look at healthy people and wonder, what is their secret? Here are the top 8 things health-conscious people do on a regular basis to stay both physiologically and mentally nourished.
1. Get adequate sleep
Sleep not only re-energizes a tired body, it’s also an important part of the body's natural detoxing process. As one sleeps, hormones are released, movement slows, and the GI tract is able to rest and repopulate. Important sleep cycle hormones that help control appetite are released during deeper stages of sleep. The immune system is strengthened and primed for attack in a well rested body vs. one deprived of sleep. Inadequate sleep leads to disturbances in hormonal processes and creates a chaotic internal environment. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night.
2. Shopping the Perimeter of the Supermarket
Over 70% of food sold in supermarkets is processed and the majority of these foods are found in the middle of the supermarket, lining aisles and shelves. The perimeter contains vegetables, fruits, fresh cuts of meat, fish, nuts, and real ingredients needed to be well-nourished and thrive. Next time you are out shopping be aware of this pattern, if you stick to the perimeter your cart and food choices will be much healthier.
3. Eat complex carbohydrates
There are so many theories, diets, and thoughts on what constitutes healthy eating. My opinion—everyone is different and what works best for one person will not always work for another. Most diets agree, however, that replacing refined grains with complex carbohydrates is the best for overall health. This goes beyond whole wheat breads and whole grain crackers and back to unprocessed foods. Including complex carbs like sweet potatoes, squash, quinoa, beans, farrow, amaranth, and bulgar, can help keep the body a healthy functioning machine. These foods are simple, gluten-free, and contain no added sugar, a major health win in my book!
4. Have a Health-Conscious Community
A support system is one of the most crucial components of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s your partner, family, friends, or community groups, having support will make the transition and duration of a healthy lifestyle possible. So many of the social aspects of life revolve around food, being in healthy food environments influences the choices you make. When you have others encouraging you to wake up, go on a hike Saturday morning, or meet at a new juice bar instead of a greasy diner, you will feel better. This can be a pivotal moment to examine your life. Are there toxic habits, friends, or environments that you frequent? Now is the time to change, upgrade, and feel your best.
30 minutes of exercise per day can change the chemical make-up of the brain. Serotonin, a feel good hormone, is released in higher amounts in the brain after exercise. The "exercise high," is not a myth, it’s the bodies chemical reaction to activity. People who exercise are less likely to suffer from depression, have more energy, eat healthier, and are part of active communities. Including 30 minutes per day of exercise can change your body physically and mentally. Go for a walk, hop on a bike, jog, do some yoga, or pop in that old workout DVD. P90x is great for a home-based workout and P90x3 is only 30 minutes!
Beyond the fact it takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 muscles to smile, smiling is a simple way to spread positive energy. It is a universal language. Where ever you go, a smile always implies a positive emotion and can soften even the angriest person. But smiles can be few and far between. Most people are on their phones, looking at the ground, or in their own world, missing important moments for human connection. Flashing a simple smile is a great way to feel good and to improve the moods of others.
This may be one of the most challenging aspects of the list (at least for me). Meditation requires discipline, motivation, and stillness. Listening to your breath, staying present, and clearing the mind have been shown to chemically change the make-up of the brain. Sitting with yourself and accepting yourself opens you up to love. When there is love in your body, there is less room for stress, anger, and anxiety. All of these emotions and feelings trigger inflammatory chemicals to be released in the body that promote weight gain, decrease ability to sleep soundly, and increase unhealthy cravings. Take 10 minutes out of your day, get comfortable, turn off your phone, close your eyes, and clear your mind.
8. Breathe and Let it Go
Our environments constantly bombard us with new challenges. These external stimuli can become overwhelming and produce negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and stress. Taking a moment to recognize a situation, understand how it makes you feel, take a deep breath, and let it go, helps keep the path to health unobstructed. Obsessing over an event or trying to cryptically figure out why something happened can drive you crazy. Staying balanced influences your eating habits and cravings. Balanced people tend to make better healthy choices and fuel their bodies with foods to make them feel great rather than foods that contribute to negative emotions. Feeling overwhelmed? Remember, breath, and let it go.
This is your guide. Pick one item and focus on making a change. Anyone can lead a healthy lifestyle, it's just about having the right information and committing to a change. Remember, change is a slow process and it’s anything but easy. Setting goals, taking the plunge, and committing to a new lifestyle will help you achieve anything you desire!