I’m not one that likes to do anything extreme. Fad diets, crash diets, elimination of most foods, 2 gallons of water a day, running 5 miles every day, 2 hours of cardio every day, low carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, blah blah blah. I just don’t get into it.
Once upon a time I jumped from diet to diet trying every single thing out there with a shiny testimony saying it worked for someone. I’ve bought several promising exercise videos, equipment, supplements, and eating plans trying to reach my health goals over the years. I even did a tuna diet one time in college where I survived on canned tuna, grapefruit, and water for a week. What in the world? I can’t even stand tuna!
Not any more. I’m done with that disordered obsessive way to achieve health. Truthfully, that’s not healthy at all. It’s damaging to your mental health and physical health to deprive your body of essential nutrients and put your body through an unnatural amount of stress to look and feel a certain way.
Now I’m not saying some hard work doesn’t have to be done to be healthy, especially if you are dealing with years of body abuse, food sensitivities, or autoimmune disease. Those can take a LONG time to reverse, but for the average person, I like to think of the five building blocks of health. No matter where you are on your journey to “get real” improving in these areas will go a long way to improving your overall health.
Eat Real Food
Eat food that is closest to its natural state as possible. Real eggs instead of egg beaters. Real cheese instead of processed cheese. Nut butters that are just ground nuts and maybe salt instead of loaded with corn syrup and other additives. Butter instead of margarine. Coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. Water instead of soft drinks. You get the picture.
I will also be offering online group classes this year to walk you through how to eat a real food diet effortlessly. Stay tuned for that!
Move Your Body
I’ll be honest. This one is difficult for me to do especially in the cold months, but it is so important to get the booty moving. It reduces the risk of disease, reduces stress, burns calories, and just makes you feel good. I recommend finding something that you love doing so that it’s not a chore. If you love lifting weights, do that. If you love walking, do that. If you love hiking, do that. My favorite forms of movement are dancing, biking, walking, and occasionally the kettlebell. For years I tried to make myself a runner, and I hated every single minute of it. I gave that up and now stick to activities I enjoy. I recommend starting with some gentle, especially if you are a beginner, older in age, or suffering from adrenal fatigue. Gradually increase as you get stronger and build up more endurance. I’m also a big fan of high intensity interval training (HIIT). I like short bursts of hard work. It’s effective and fast.
Sleep Sleep Sleep
This could possibly be the most important of all. Without good and restful sleep, the body will have a hard time staying healthy. For me going to bed at a reasonable hour and approximately the same time every night helps. 10:30 is that time for me and I require 8-9 hours of sleep to feel rested. Most adults need about that much sleep. A complete dark room also helps me as well as limiting light and screen time in the evening hours. If I’m really having a hard time sleeping, massage and lavender essential oil usually does the trick.
Stress can do so much damage on the body, sometimes even more so than a bad diet. Have you seen how much the presidents age after they’ve been in office. Whew! That stress is killer. If you have a stressful lifestyle like a job or family situation, it is essential that you find healthy ways to manage it. Take time to get away, take walks by yourself, find a hobby that you love, exercise, write, read, take a bath, look for ways to simplify your life. Even stress over food and health can do damage to the body. Find ways to lighten up and have a little fun.
Reduce Toxic Load
While the body is very good at detoxifying itself through our liver, kidneys, and other organs, I still think it is important to reduce the toxic load put on our bodies. It’s not possible to remove everything toxic from our environment. We do still live in the world and we can’t really stop breathing or put ourselves in a protective bubble. We can’t control everything, and definitely shouldn’t worry about everything, but I do encourage everyone to be mindful about what you put on and in your body. I prefer to make my own cleaning products, make or buy clean personal care items, as well as using natural methods for supporting the body during illness before resorting to antibiotics. This is the area that usually takes the most time to switch over. When I made the switch, when I ran out of my current product, I would replace it with a cleaner product. I hated to waste what I had and it was overwhelming for me to change everything at once.
I will be teaching a class on this topic later in the year as well. In the mean time, you can browse my non-toxic cleaning products, DIY personal care and natural health archives. The Skin Deep database from the Environmental Working Group is also a great resource for finding personal care items and cosmetics that are low toxicity.
So how are you doing in your journey? Which area is your strength and which area is your weak spot?