“If I had known I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
None of us know how many years we have on this planet, but by taking care of our health we can add more life to the years we do have. As your health improves so will your quality of life. Healthier people have a greater potential for happiness, fulfillment, success, growth, and contribution.
Attaining good health can seem complicated, but these 5 steps will help clear the confusion and put you on the right path to looking and feeling great.
“You are what you eat!” This is also known as “Garbage in – Garbage out.”
Nutrition is your foundation for better health. What you eat and drink will affect how you look and feel. How you nourish your body will influence your energy levels, body chemistry, emotions, mental clarity, and healing.
Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. If you weigh 160 lbs divide by 2 = 80 ounces of water or ten 8 ounce glasses.
Eat unprocessed, whole foods:
- A simple rule is to avoid prepackaged items with more than 5 ingredients and don’t eat anything that has an ingredient you can’t pronounce or don’t know what it is.
- Nourishing foods could include organic vegetables and fruits, organic grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, organic beans, organic sprouted whole grains, pseudo grains, and organic nuts and seeds
- Everyone does not flourish on the same diet. So experiment with a variety of foods and different quantities to find your optimal nutrition.
Good sleep is VITAL to your health. If you wake up tired each morning and need a cup of coffee to get you moving, you are not getting the sleep your body and mind need. Lack of good sleep can lead to poor health by slowing your body’s ability to repair and regenerate, decreasing the release of growth hormone, aging your skin, and lowering sex drive.
Get 8 hours of sleep each night.
Most people think they can get by on less, but the average healthy adult needs about 8 hours. There is a big difference between how much sleep you can get by on and how much you need for health and optimal function.
If you’re not sleeping well, try the following:
- 15-20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in the morning or afternoon. This will prep your mind and body for sleep in the evening.
- Remove all light from your bedroom and sleep in complete darkness. If you have an alarm clock, cover it so you do not see the light.
- Avoid caffeine in the evening. It takes an average of 5 hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, but it could take longer. It’s a safe bet to stop all caffeine in the afternoon.
- Create a pre-sleep routine:
- Read a book
- Take a warm bath or shower
3. MOVEMENT AND SELF-CARE
Movement is essential to life. Even when standing still the inside of your body is in a constant state of movement. Under the surface, your heart is beating, blood is flowing, lungs breathing, muscles alternately contracting and relaxing, digestion is moving nutrients, and your pupils are dilating and contracting. Physically moving your body helps all of the systems to work better at healing, nourishing, oxygenating, cleansing, and energizing. A few minutes a day of either movement or self-care activities will go a long way toward helping you to look and feel great.
- A daily 20 minute walk
- Self myofascial release to heal injured muscles
- Gentle stretching to improve flexibility
- Joint mobility routine to improve range of motion and overall health
If you aren’t happy with your life, your mind and body will be overstressed. Happiness is an important part of your overall wellbeing and lifelong health. When you’re happy, you will feel confident, choose goals aligned with your values, and make strong decisions about creating change in your life.
Take some time to consider what you truly value personally, professionally, and in relationships.
Personal – Are you taking care of your health or ignoring a problem? Are you eating well? Are you getting enough exercise and rest? Do you make time for fun and social activities?
Professional – How much income do you need? Are you good at what you do? What about your career is exciting or inspiring?
Relationships – First consider the type of relationship (friendship/spouse/business). What do you bring to the relationship? What does your partner bring? Am I giving enough? Are my needs being met?
Let your values guide you to make lifestyle choices that will bring you more health and happiness.
Stress is a normal part of life, in most cases it’s not the stressor, but how you handle it that counts. For example, learning a new skill such as a language is a stress, but if handled well, it has a positive outcome. Some life events may prove to be too much stress to handle. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by mental and emotional stress, evidence has shown you may experience accelerated aging, heart disease, obesity, headaches, and more.
The following techniques are proven ways to relieve stress.
- Praying for others – research has shown that praying for others helped reduce the financial stresses and strains of the person doing the praying and improved their own well-being. You don’t have to be religious to benefit from this technique. Think of a loved one and wish for him/her to be happy. Wait a few seconds and repeat wishing happiness for another.
- Classical music – Listening to Pachelbel’s Canon and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Spring has been shown to help people relax and normalize their blood pressure.
Health is more than going to the gym, dieting, or how much you weigh. The word health comes from the root Hal, which means whole or wholeness. True health encompasses your whole life. If you look physically fit, but feel unsatisfied with life, get sick often, have poor digestion, your body feels tired and achy, and you feel stressed, then that’s not good health.
Begin with the holistic lifestyle changes above by first focusing on nutrition and sleep. These two steps will provide you with the energy you need. Then, move into movement/self-care, happiness, and stress relief.
By implementing the 5 steps above you will be on your way to looking and feeling great.