5 simple Steps to Becoming a Healthier You

Click here to listen to this blog post on my podcast, Living to Become.

Step 1) Vitamins S & F

Wait, what? What in the world are vitamins S & F? I’m talking about the good old sunshine and fresh air vitamins. Spending time outside will help you increase your Vitamin D intake and energy and reduce stress. Other awesome benefits of extra direct sunlight are fighting off osteoporosis, cancer, and depression. They also support a healthy immune system and helps in regulating insulin levels.

Now if you’re like me and live in the good old Pacific Northwest or in an equivalent location that gives off less than desired amounts of sunshine, you may need to take a Vitamin D supplement during the gray days or in my case gray months. Just make sure to take that Vitamin D with a healthy fat like EVOO(extra virgin olive oil or my favorite, coconut oil). Without the fat, our bodies have a harder time absorbing this essential vitamin. Which … side note is not actually a vitamin at all, but a hormone. But that’s for another discussion.

Fresh Air

Now if you throw in a walk outside in the sunshine, you can add a whole host of other sweet benefits. Walking outside can boost your mood by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels. These awesome chemical messengers regulate sleep and memory as well as metabolism and emotional well-being. I mean, come on! Who doesn’t need more help with all of that?

Am I right?

And if you happen to be working on a project and have hit a roadblock, taking a break for a brief outdoors sesh can help to re-energize and spark creativity. It doesn’t have to be a crazy amount of time either. Aim for around 20 mins of sunshine and fresh air each and every day. So go right now and take a walk. Ok. Maybe you’re in the middle of something, but for reals…go and take a walk.

 

Step 2)Lemon and H20

Raise your hand if the first thing you reach for in the morning is caffeine! Many of us need a little boost before we can really get going. But before you take a sip of coffee, or in my case what I used to grab, a ZipFizz, consider reaching for warm water with lemon. I know what you’re thinking, she’s cray-cray! But stick with me for a minute on this one.

Caffeine has been shown to cause a whole host of issues such as insomnia, nervousness or an increase in anxiousness, stomach upset, increased heart and breathing rate. It also has been shown to increase blood pressure and overuse can lead to an increase in headaches, higher risk of miscarriage, impaired glucose metabolism, worsens menopausal symptoms. Plus it inhibits collagen production, and for me, it added to my adrenal fatigue issues.

Now for some people, as with any drugs out there (caffeine is a drug in case you were wondering) can affect everyone so, so differently. But if you have had ANY of these issues and have been drinking anything with caffeine, natural forms of it or not, you might want to try this warm water and lemon trick. Now if you’ve been highly dependent on caffeine for a long time, it might take a bit to come off of that dependence, but I am so grateful that I made the switch.

A while back I did a social media post about the benefits of warm lemon water, but here’s a little refresher.

Benefits of Lemon Water

Drinking warm lemon water each morning cleanses the liver, increases metabolism, helps maintain the pH balance of the body, along with Vitamin C, lemons are also a rich source of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, is a popular remedy for many kinds of skin problems ranging from acne, rashes, and wrinkles to dark spots can help reduce joint and muscle pain, it helps with digestion, and SO MUCH MORE.

I feel like a game show ad on the price is right. But for reals, Lemon water is amazing! Each morning I make sure to drink 32 oz. of warm lemon water. I have a cup that I use that’s exactly 32 oz. and I squeeze half a lemon water in there and sip on it throughout the morning. Love that I’m starting out my day well hydrated and doing something good for my body right from the get-go.

Also, if I’m craving something, especially in the evening, I will make a mug of warm lemon water, kind of like a tea, and sip on that and it totally helps with my cravings. Try it!! You’ll love it! Ok. Maybe you won’t love it, but you should try it anyway.

But really, you’ll love it!

 

Step 3) Intermittent fasting

We’ve always been taught that eating three square meals a day is best for your health and nutrition, but research has shown that might just not be that true. Now I’m not saying that this is for everyone. We all have different body types and responses and of course, certain medical conditions might not allow for this type of eating lifestyle, but it is certainly something to mention. If you’re unfamiliar with intermittent fasting let me just give you a very brief explanation.

Intermittent fasting is an alternative eating schedule in which you eat for only 6-7 hours during the day. This is something I have been doing for a while now and I love it.

My eating window is from noon – 7.

I’m actually not super rigged about the hours so there may be days where I eat a little earlier or dinner might run late and so I eat a bit later, but that is what I generally shoot for. I do have my lemon water in the morning, which to some hardcore IF’ers would frown upon, I don’t really care. And when I do eat I try and make sure that the first thing I eat is heavily nutrient-dense which usually translates to an all-in-one protein shake that is loaded with vitamins, minerals, omegas… all the things! And sometimes I will have it with a whole grain piece of toast. I just want to make sure that the first thing going into my body, outside of the lemon water, is super nutritious to really fuel my body right.

But as for health benefits, intermittent fasting has been shown to lower inflammation, gives the digestion system a break, helps you lose excess weight, increases energy, and offers a TON of other health benefits. But if this is something that really interests you I suggest reading “The Complete Guide to Fasting” by Jason Fung, MD to really get a good grasp of what this all really looks like.

 

Step 4) High-Intensity Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training or (HIIT) is a workout that alternates between bursts of intense activity and periods of low-intensity activity or rest. HIIT fires up your metabolism and helps you burn more fat. Add 3-5 intense cardio bursts to your workouts for an immediate health boost. And if you want, even more, throw in some toning focus sets and you’ve got an all-over awesome, turbocharged, body transformation workout.

And if you’re just starting out, don’t be scared.

Start small and slow.

If you’re consistent, it’s all about consistency, you’ll find yourself getting stronger and faster as time goes on. Remember, small hinges swing open big doors. So maybe you can’t do a full jumping jack. Maybe you can only step out that jumping jack one leg at a time. That’s ok! You’re moving and as you move more and more you’ll be able to do more. Or maybe when you’re trying to do a push-up, you’re on your knees and can only barely bend your elbows. Or maybe you’re like me when I first started out and when I tried to do a push up the floor came at me a little too fast and I face planted it… wherever you’re starting out…just start! If you stick with it, you’ll be amazed at what you’re body is capable of doing if you get your mind out of the way.

And finally

Step 5)Meditate

Clearly, I believe in meditation. I try and include meditations at the end of these podcasts and at the end of my workout classes I always include a light form of breathing and meditation. I don’t think enough of us give this form of self-care enough attention. Meditation can have a huge impact on our physical and mental health. It can reduce stress, improve concentration, benefit cardiovascular and immune health, and some even believe it can slow aging…what, what?! And yet so many of us fight or put off the opportunity to meditate. Why is that? The truth is that some find silence and stillness terrifying-even painful. One Harvard study found that 2/3’s of men and ¼ of women were willing to voluntarily shock themselves rather than sit in silence in an empty room for fifteen minutes with no distractions.

Mental Chatter

But just like we talked about the benefits of intermittent fasting, we might take a look at fasting from the usual chatter and mental junk food that the world and our own monkey mind provide. This will allow you to enjoy a quiet retreat from sound, communication, and jibber-jabber. Just like our bodies need a digestive break with fasting from food, meditation allows for the mental digestive system to take a rest and find renewal.

But please be mindful that effective meditation takes practice. It’s best to start with small increments of time each day. And give yourself grace when you do take the time to meditate that it’s ok if your mind drifts off. Just take notice of when it does, and then gently bring yourself back to your meditative state. Some days will be better than others and that’s for even the most well-seasoned meditators. Being aware and taking just a few moments out of your day to practice breathing and mindfulness will offer you some fabulous benefits. If you’re looking into guided meditations outside of what’s at the end of these podcasts there are some awesome apps out there. Simple habit is a great one that helps you meditate for just five minutes a day. You should check it out!

So there you have it!

5 simple steps that you can start implementing right now to become a healthier you. Maybe you are already doing a couple of things already that I talked about. But maybe there is something that I mentioned that you aren’t doing. So take one step forward and try doing something new for your health. It really is amazing how such small things can have such big impacts.

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