Often clients ask me, what they need to do to ‘get healthy’. My answer to them is how much healthier are we talking? The truth is everyone has a different idea of healthy, just as everyone has a different idea of what they are prepared to do and how uncomfortable they are willing to become to enjoy optimum health.
Having said that, if you know in your ‘gut’ (pardon the pun) that you really do need to take action to improve your health, but you either don’t know where to start, or are not quite ready to totally overhaul your whole life, there are a few simple habits you can include daily to greatly improve your health.
Establishing habits takes time, habits are learned over time by being repeated over and over, they are performed almost automatically without thought. Just as you have created bad health habits over time, better health habits can also be created. During habit formation, you repeat thoughts or perform actions over and over again causing neurons to fire together and eventually wire together, thus ingraining the behaviour. The key to developing new habits and breaking old unhealthy habits is to tie a new habit to an old cue or totally avoid the cue that triggers the old unhealthy habit.
So, let’s take a look at some healthier habits and how you can include them into your daily routine.
Just move, you don’t have to run a marathon or join a testosterone filled gym, all you have to do is move your butt, start by walking, you will be amazed effective walking is in clearing your mind and improving your mood. How do we make it a habit? We enlist a walking buddy, there is nothing like being accountable to someone else to keep us honest, well at least until it becomes a habit. Lay your ‘active wear’ out the night before (so it is looking at you when you crawl out of bed). Set the alarm and tell your partner (if you have one) you are getting up to exercise – another form of accountability. Better still, ask them to come walking with you – I can’t tell you how many clients tell me how much their relationship improved when they started exercising together.
On top of all that, exercise is the best thing you can do for brain health. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and triggers the release of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes neuronal growth and survival and reduces inflammation, and supports the formation of long-term memory. Research shows without a doubt that exercise is the number one thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing dementia and many other chronic diseases.
Why wouldn’t you exercise????
Don’t underestimate the importance of staying hydrated. Studies show even being slightly dehydrated has a huge impact on your body. If fact, exercise performance can be impaired by up to 30% when individuals are dehydrated by as little as 2-5% of their body weight. So, you can imagine if you are sitting in an air-conditioned office all day, the only fluid you are taking in for the day is coffee, is it any wonder you feel sluggish and get that afternoon dull headache? Adopt a drink bottle, make it your friend and don’t leave home without it!!!
I cannot stress enough how important it is to feed your body with good quality real food. Stop eating the food like substances that masquerade as food in our large supermarkets. A simple rule I like to share with my clients – if you choose to shop at a one of our large ‘full of crap’ supermarkets, you can only buy products from the outside parameter of the shop (fruit, veg, milk, cheese, meat etc….. get the idea?). This of course does not guarantee great quality products, but it does stop them buying packet rubbish. Of course, always buying what’s naturally in season and grown in Australia is a must. Growing your own food, buying organic or from a farmer’s market where possible is absolutely gold star.
Put simple, get back to basics, eat like out great grandparents did, and stop EATING DIET ‘FOOD’ aka chemicals!!! Enough of my rant, but stay tuned for more blogs on our modern-day food crisis!!
Take time to Breathe
I cannot stress enough how important it is to take time out to breathe, smell the roses and reflect. Unfortunately, it seems that it has become almost a badge of honour for people to brag about how many hours a day they work. Don’t get me wrong I am all for hard work, nothing was ever accomplish sitting on your butt, watching tv, stuffing crap down your throat (see there I go again….) but I believe we must make time for work and time for play, we must take time out to invest in our health. Whether that be meditation, yoga, boxing class, a walk-in nature, a bike ride with the kids…… whatever it is that helps you wind down and relax. A wise woman once said to me – no one goes to their grave saying, ‘I wish I’d worked harder’ but they do say. ‘I wish I had spent more time with my family and taken time out to smell the roses’ Thanks Mum 😊
Sleep is so often overlooked, underappreciated and just not made a priority. Sleep is fundamental to good health, it’s absolutely a non-negotiable. Sleep deprivation effects our cognition (thinking), mood, memory, learning, hormones, appetite, immune system and leads to chronic disease. Sleep is also responsible for draining waste products from the brain and is essential for consolidating memories. So again, why are we hearing people boast about working 16 hour days and getting 4 hours sleep? Seems rather stupid to me!!
Journaling & Gratitude
Journaling and Gratitude…. that’s two things I hear you say, well not really, journaling and gratitude go hand in hand. One of the most beneficial practices I suggest to my clients is journaling. I see clients regularly that have struggled their whole life to achieve their goals and improve their health and lifestyle. Once they start to invest time each night to journal their thoughts (basically a brain dump), get rid of the ‘stuff’ in their head, every part of their life improves.
Yes, every part!
Mood, clarity, sleep, connection to self, mental health, energy, relationships, nutrition …. and the list goes on. There is something about writing stuff down, it dates back to ancient times, in fact most successful people throughout history have kept journals. In addition to our ancestor’s, science also supports the act of journaling, helping remove mental blocks and control emotions, improving your mental health.
Journaling also helps us track our progress over time, sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we have travelling on our journey of health. Having a journal to look back on helps us to see how much progress we have made and gives us a sense of pride in what we have accomplished, which helps fuel further progress.
Which brings me lastly to ‘GRATITUDE’ …… when I ask my clients if they would like to try journaling the only stipulation I ask from them is that at the end of each journal post they MUST finish with a gratitude. It doesn’t matter how small or how large, it may be as simple as being grateful to have flowers in their garden or running water or the fact that someone was kind to them that day.
Finishing each day with a gratitude post helps lower stress by helping us gain clarity on what we want more of in our life. It helps us appreciate what is important to us, and helps us focus on the great people and things we do have in our life. Journaling is a great way to learn more about yourself and your values.
So, there we have it, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the plethora of information about health and wellness that is available today, and really don’t know where to start, here are 6 simple steps you can start tomorrow to begin YOUR journey to AWESOMENESS!!
After all you get 1Life… it’s not a dress rehearsal….. live it!!!!