Getting healthy can be extremely overwhelming, but there are a few small habits you can start today, that cost nothing and don’t require a gym membership! I am no doc, but as a registered nurse, mom of four, and pastor to many, I’ve spent my adulthood learning ways to help myself, and others, get healthy and live longer, happier lives! I am FAR from perfect, but I get healthier every year, little by little.
- Deep Breathing– You’ve probably heard that taking a deep breath is a good way to help with anger, but it’s so much more than anger management. When you take a deep breath, you are using your full lung capacity, which you rarely do naturally, especially when you’re stressed. Shallow breathing is more natural, and causes stress levels to rise, and heart rates to increase. If you hold that deep breath in (count to 7), you allow the oxygen to travel further into your body, and we all know more oxygen is better than less. Lastly, let out that deep breath with a long pursed-lip exhale, like you’re blowing bubbles. This ensures that all that carbon dioxide makes its way out of your body. Now, you feel more relaxed, your heart rate slows down, and you’ve done something healthy for your body! I challenge you to take a few air breaks today and do some deep breathing.
- Lemon Water– There are few things that come before coffee for me in the morning, but lemon water is one of them. Drinking a glass of water in the morning is a great way to kick-start your body. You naturally wake up dehydrated, so your body could use the hydration, but it also helps get your organs up and running for the day. The lemon? Well it’s not only refreshing, it’s actually VERY healthy for your body. Lemons are alkaline, which helps balance out your pH against all the other acidic drinks you put in your body (coffee). I once heard a cancer survivor, when asked how she beat it, say that lemon water every day helped her fight cancer. Next time your waiter asks what you want to drink, resist the soda, and ask for lemon water!
- Stretch– My husband gets a kick out of my bedtime routine, because to him, going to bed consists of literally…going to bed. For me, it is a multi-step process, and stretching is always part of it! I just do a few simple stretches of my neck, arms, legs and back before sleep, to ease any tension and help my body dismiss some of the built-up toxins. We can’t all afford a weekly massage, although that would be nice, but we can all afford to stretch every day! It also leaves you feeling relaxed and ready for rest, which is the next tip!
- Sleep Well– I cannot stress this enough! If you want to be healthy, if you want to lose weight, if you want to be able to handle this crazy life, you must take care of your body, and you must REST! Our bodies were created to need rest, and when you don’t rest well, your body goes into “survival” mode, which means it will also do you a favor and hold onto your fat stores, isn’t that nice? This feature would be handy if you were actually on Survivor, and needed to live off of coconuts for days, but it’s not helpful when you are trying to lose weight and your body doesn’t want to get rid of it! We all know we are not our best selves when we are tired, but you may not know that your mental capacity decreases, your memory decreases, and your ability to fight off infection decreases. So, now you really are sick and tired! I had 4 babies in 5 years, and have a hard time remembering their early days as well as my husband does, because I was so sleep deprived! Don’t let yourself get sick and tired. Get your sleep, and if you can, include a power nap in your daily routine for bonus points 🙂
5. Think Positive
Your mind is a powerful thing, and is a great leader for your body. The good news is, you can actually control your thoughts. You don’t have to be controlled by them. Stress causes more diseases and disorders than any other factor. They say up to 90% of hospitalizations can be traced back to the mind. Getting healthy can be overwhelming. Give yourself some grace, don’t allow guilt or shame into your mind. Those things are more unhealthy than a box of donuts! Whatever you choose, or don’t choose to do, having a positive attitude is the number one way to a healthier life!
If you really want to go above and beyond to get healthy, reduce sugars and dairy. Sugar feeds infection, and causes skin problems. Dairy is my weakness, but one day I hope to gain the mental strength to break up with it. I once heard a nephrologist (really smart doc) tell me this, “We are the only species that drinks another species milk. It’s meant to for babies, not grown humans.” Dairy contains growth hormones, which is good for babies, but not for other parts of the body that don’t need to grow, like cancer cells. One professor put it this way: “We have all been brought up with the idea that milk is good for you,” says Prof Plant. “But there is evidence now that the growth factors and hormones it contains are not just risky for breast cancer, but also other hormone-related cancers, of the prostate, testicles and ovary.” -Dr. Jane Plant
Lastly, try to transition a few of your grocery items to organic. Start with produce that has thin skin, like apples, tomatoes, grapes, and strawberries. The chemicals used in non-organic foods are more likely to get through these thin-skinned items than their thicker counterparts, like bananas and oranges.
I hope this helps you make a small step in getting healthier today! I don’t claim to know it all or have it all together. I still break down and eat an entire bag of Doritos once in a while, but I can say that I’m healthier today than I was at seventeen. Don’t try to implement this all at once, just one change at a time, and over time, you will feel healthier, more energized, and more positive about yourself!
Have a blessed day folks!