Knowing where to start can be overwhelming, especially when it often feels like we're inundated with information from all angles with varying opinions on health, what to do and what not to do, eat, avoid etc. But through the current fads and trends of the health industry, there are certain timeless sensible steps towards improving our health that we should all take into consideration and get into the habit of doing. Some of these may be things you've heard over time or find to be obvious, but it's so easy for us to get into the routine of our daily lives that we often forget to simple things like going outside and laying in the sun or enjoying a tall glass of water.
1. BELIEVE IT'S POSSIBLE - The first step towards anything truly is admitting it. Tell yourself you need to make a change, and believe it's possible for your mind, body, and spirit to be well. I've often been in mental states where I feel like there's no hope, use in trying, or sense in moving forward, but nothing changed until I told myself that those were all lies, and that with a little effort, things could change. And they did! But first, I had to believe they could. It really does start with our minds, and then all else follows suit.
2. SUSTAIN YOUR SPIRITUALITY - Dig a little deeper into your faith. If you don't have one, seek one. Find your spiritual roots and nourish them. Spend time being still, quiet, and calm each day. Meditation and prayer works wonders for the mind and soul. We love the app called Aura which gives 3-minute meditations during your day, and little stories at night that help knock me right out. Having a calm peace of mind is so important in generating physical healing. Faith is essential for giving us a sense of belonging, completeness, serenity, and assurance that there is more to this life than we see.
3. IMPROVE YOUR OXYGEN INTAKE - Open those windows and get the fresh air moving, even in the cooler months. Turn your AC off in the summer at the very least once a week, and filter out your house with all of that outside air. Remember to breathe deeply, feeding every corner of your body with necessary oxygen. Spend time outside around life-giving trees, which give off Oxygen, and fill your home with lots of houseplants, which will increase the Oxygen levels and clean the air.
4. EXERCISE - Obviously. No matter how old you are, what your physical capabilities are, or what you think you can or can't do, move your bum. Seriously. Get up and walk during your lunch break, take the longer way to the copy machine at work, walk up and down your steps 5 times in a row... Do whatever you can to get your heart pumping... It's a muscle and it needs exercise too! Don't do anything you think may strain your body, but just move it. We all sit way too much and it's terrible for our health.
5. INVERSIONS - Get your feed above your head! This gives your heart a break. When we are upright, gravity pulls the fluids, blood, and tissues in our bodies downward. In order for deoxygenated blood to return back to the heart, our hearts have to work hard to pump it back upwards, defying the pull of gravity. So when we're upside down, we are reversing the flow of the blood in our bodies and helping the return of blood flow back to our hearts. This also gives a huge part of our immune system - the lymphatic system (our body's drainage system) - a good cleanse. When we invert ourselves, we are encouraging the lymph system to move it's fluids around and clear any toxic build-up. (Read more about cleansing your lymphatic system here.) You don't have to do a head-stand or hand-stand to do an inversion. You can just simply lay on your back and have your feet up in the air. Or, one of my favorites, lay on your back with your bum and legs up against the wall. This position also promotes good rest at night. If you can't sleep, give it a try.
6. HYDRATE WITH WATER - I don't drink enough water, I know I don't, and it's something I'm trying to work on every day. Adding a drop or two of YL's Lemon Vitality oil to my water has helped me guzzle it down more because it tastes so fresh and delicious, but I still don't consume enough. Drinking room-temperature water is healthiest because the cold temp doesn't shock our systems and cause it to work harder to process nutrients, etc. (Read more about why drinking warm water is better, and the ways it benefits our digestion, metabolism, and more here.) A guideline to know how much water to drink each day is to take your body weight and divide it in half. Drink that many ounces daily, but don't go over 100. Be sure to consume filtered water, as chlorine and fluoride and other hidden gems found in our water may alter your health negatively. We have a filter on our sink that we like. You can also look into buying water filters like Berkey.
7. SIT IN THE SUN - Don't let yourself burn, but be sure to soak up that Vitamin D every day. It's hard in the winter months (in which case I like to be sure and take a supplement; most of us are short on Vitamin D so have your doctor test your levels if you're curious) but when it's nice out, try and sit outside whenever you can, with a goal of 10 to 15 minutes per day. If you plan to be exposed to the sun for longer periods of time, be sure to choose a natural sunscreen like Juice Beauty's, which can be found online or at Ulta. Create a relaxing space for your Daily D to make it more enticing to do. I usually set up a lounge chair in our back yard with a little table, a few of my favorite plants, and cute little outdoor rug. Put a little basket together with some homemade bug spray and your favorite magazine or book so when you're ready to sit outside, you can bring it out with you. Be sure you're also getting enough Magnesium too (found in bananas, sesame and pumpkin seeds, spinach, broccoli, almonds, cashews, avocados...) because that will help convert the Vitamin D into it's active form, which will then help calcium absorption and help prevent clogged arteries and promote healthy bone structure. Nutrients work together in a synergistic way throughout the body, which is why it's important to eat a balanced diet! Another perk of daily D is of course - glowing skin!
8. SLEEP FOR 8-10 HOURS EACH NIGHT - I know it's hard, but really try and get into the habit of sleeping well. If you are having trouble sleeping and aren't sure why, here's a great article by Alisa Vitti (author of Woman Code) on possible reasons behind your lack of shuteye. A few potential culprits include toxic liver, low calcium, or consumption of too many carbs. Sleep gives our bodies a chance to rejuvenate, detox, align, rest, and heal. Poor sleep is something we often overlook as a health issue, but it's definitely major.
9. INTERNAL DETOX - Are you regular? Seriously, are you? Think about it. If you're not, it means your system is all out of whack. If you're not, you need to drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. I'd cut out dairy and gluten too if I were you. It's always a good idea to try an elimination diet to see what's making your body flare up and have these detoxification/elimination issues. Pinterest has lots of info on elimination diets, but the general protocol is to cut out dairy, gluten, grains, sugars (including fruit), alcohol, and caffeine for 21 days. Afterwards, add back in one food at a time and take note of your symptoms after you consume it. If your body doesn't experience any bloating, nausea, IBS-C/D, stuffy nose, headache, fatigue, or cramping, then you're probably in the clear with that particular food. Not sure what things are supposed to look like? Check out this article from Dr. Axe on yep - poop. It's super interesting! Everybody does it, don't be weird. He explains it all much better than I can. Plus, I'd honestly rather move onto the next topic but don't underestimate the importance of regularity! You may suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome Constipation or Diarrhea. If that crap's stuck all up in there, think about the level of toxins that your body is absorbing (IBS-C). And if you are going too much and feel like you're always looking for where the bathroom is (IBS-D), your insides are full of inflammation and you need to find out why.
10. AVOID CONSUMING THESE THINGS IN GENERAL - All refined sugars (brown, white, corn syrup, words ending in "-ose"...), artificial sweeteners (these are terrible for your endocrine system, hormone balance, stubborn weight, and sooo many other reasons that I'd love to do a blog post on soon), anything synthetic that you read on your labels like preservatives, additives, things you can't pronounce... All refined and processed flours (stick to gluten-free flours!), All hydrogenated and trans fats like margarine, shortening, and spreads, and if you want to use butter make sure it's organic and made with cream from grass-fed cows. Use oils like coconut, olive, almond, and avocado. Stay clear of factory-farmed dairy products, and if you are feeling frisky, avoid dairy all together. If you eat cheese, goat cheese is a great choice in my opinion. Anything non-cow related is best (reasons to avoid cow-related products is something you can research on your own, but I may do a post on this at some point too). Try and stay clear of carbonated beverages, excessive caffeine, and alcohol. Obviously we all enjoy these things from time to time, but don't make it a consistency if you can. Don't microwave your food, and avoid genetically modified (GMO) foods. And lastly, don't consume foods that irritate your system, or ones you may be allergic to.
11. CONSUME CLEAN, REAL, GOOD THINGS TO EAT - Eat foods that are fresh and true to their most natural state, as unprocessed as possible. Buy as much organic as you can and of course, chemical-free. It's good to eat local too, but sometimes it's hard to find local organic produce depending on where you live. Do the best you can and trust your judgement. Eat mostly plants (veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains). Consume pasture-raised, grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone-free meat. Incorporate more raw foods into your diet; they have live enzymes that are essential for our wellness! I'm a huge fan of living for a pH-balanced diet (look into alkaline/acid charts and diets for inspiration, there's a lot on Pinterest!). Eat a variety of foods too, not just like meat and salad for example. Consume good fats like coconut, olive, flax, and hemp oils along with fish oil too. You gotta get those Omega's into your diet! And lastly, eat only when you're hungry, and stop when you're full.
12. DISCOVER WHAT YOU'RE LACKING & SUPPLEMENT FOR IT - I got tested by a holistic endocrinologist a few years ago, and she advised me of what my imbalances were. I also tested positive for the MTHFR gene mutation, which means I do not process B vitamins at 30% rather than fully like most people, among other things like not detoxing metals as well as most people do too. About 50% of the population have this and don't even know it! So I take special B vitamins each day and make sure I take salt baths and sit in the sauna at my gym quite often. Here's an article about MTHFR if you're interested! I have a double mutation of the C677T gene. My dad has a single mutation, and my mom has a double. So take supplements based on what your physical needs may be. My mutation is just an example, but I was also low in D and calcium. So be sure to have some blood work done. In my "referrals" tab, you'll find a link to my endocrinologist if you're local to me, but you can also go to your general practitioner to have blood work requested.
13. USE CLEAN BEAUTY PRODUCTS - A good rule of thumb is this - if you wouldn't eat it, don't apply it. Download the Think Dirty app to see how your products rate. Toss out anything that has "perfume" or "fragrance" in the ingredients too. Use naturally-derived products when you can, or make your own. There are recipes all over the internet for things like facial cleansers, scrubs, tooth paste, and more.
14. GET IN TOUCH WITH NATURE - Walk around outside with your shoes off. It's called "grounding" these days, apparently. Yes, in 2018, we have a fancy phrase for "walking around outside". Sheesh. Sad, isn't it? We spend so much time indoors and stuck on our phones that we forget to get out and experience nature. But there's something said for actually walking around barefoot outside. Those who know me know I'm barefoot 90% of the time, and will walk around without shoes outside, inside, and wherever I can. Get your toes into the grass, dirt, lake, river, wherever you can and get in touch with nature. There are magical healing powers in it and it'll make you feel more alive, calm, and in tune with ya know... real life.
15. HAVE FUN WITH IT! - I know, I know... this is a lot of information. Especially if you're new to the whole organic/natural way of life. But here's the thing - baby steps! It all takes time, so don't overwhelmingly flip your life upside down, especially out of paranoia for your health. Your body won't be able to handle all the changes at once. Transition and detox slowly and gradually, making small changes over time. Start small. Cut sugar out first, little by little. Then move onto the GMO's and processed foods, then dairy the next week... Trust your instincts and don't take any of it too seriously. We want to be happy and enjoy living naturally, not anxiously stress about every little thing we do or eat or apply to our bodies. If you go to a friends house for dinner and they are serving wine and pastries, don't hesitate to enjoy! Everything in moderation. And your body will tell you what it wants or needs. Start tuning into what it is telling you. If you're craving fruit, eat fruit. If you're feeling antsy, go for a nice long walk. If you're frustrated, take some time to meditate and breathe. Soon it'll become second nature and you'll be that much closer to overall wellness and synergy with your mind, body, and spirit. It's a forever journey - but each day can bring us closer!