Lately, people have been asking me about health- looking for my opinion and tips on how they can get healthy. I love it when people ask me, so keep it coming! That is the reason I’m in grad school; I want to help people get healthy and realize the power they have! I thought I would put together some of my top 10 Easy Steps to a Healthy Life, as a resource to you. They are meant as easy tips you can follow to become your healthiest self. They are the basic concepts that would come to mind if a stranger on the street asked me how to be healthier.
Many people are completely intimidated by dieting, losing weight, or curing an illness. They have been taught they don’t have the power to change, but that is not true. You have all the power! My10 Easy Steps to a Healthy Life are simply places you can start to be healthy from the inside out. These are steps you can take to benefit your mood, up your vitamin and mineral levels, eliminate junk, lose weight, manage stress, and help bring balance to your life.
1. Move for at Least 30 Minutes a Day
One of the best things you might hear is that you don’t have to do high-intensity exercise for 2 hours a day in order to see results. Just get outside and get moving for a while. In only 30 minutes a day of raising your heart rate, you will boost your mood, lowers your risk of depression, help maintain muscle, and enhances your flexibility. If you already do this- AWESOME! If you don’t then 30 minutes is exactly where I suggest you start. Get outside and run for 30 minutes or go for a walk. I understand that life is busy and sometimes we believe there isn’t time. If that’s you then start small if that helps. If you are someone who already runs maybe you could step it up a notch, by doing some core work, pushups, or other toning exercises. I have found that doing a pushup challenge helps build strength and it’s so easy.
MEGAN AND ALEX’S PUSHUP CHALLENGE:
Find your baseline number of pushups and sit-ups. You do not have to do plank pushups it that is too hard still; knee down pushups are just as great! Simply do as many as you can pushups and sit-ups that you can. Write down the number of each.
Do 1 or 2 more of each exercise than you did the day before. Somedays your body is going to feel tired and only be able to handle 1 more, other days 2. The point is to do more each day.
CONTINUING THE CHALLENGE
You are going to be surprised at how fast you feel your strength build! It does not matter what your experience was with pushups or sit-ups before. You will see a difference. Continue your challenge every day. If you started off doing pushups on your knees, one of your goals is to do it from a plank. Experiment with it. After a week give it a try and if that’s a no go maybe you need to up your exercises a little bit more and try again another day. Even if you can only do one, make sure to squeeze in that one as your count every day. Before you go to bed ask yourself if you completed your challenge today. If not, do them right there. It only takes a couple minutes of your time, but makes a big impact on your health! Ask your partner to do it with you. You’ll have fun challenging each other and sharing this experience together.
2. Choose GREENS!
For centuries grains were used to gain weight or keep on to weight in the winter. When other food was scarce stored grains were used to supplement calories. We now live in a place where supplementing for calories is rarely necessary. The grains we eat today are also very different from what people ate hundreds of years ago. Our grains are modified away from their traditional form. For many people who want to lose weight cutting grains may be very helpful. We tend to overeat our grains, which leads to excess weight and bloating. It’s not something that needs to be in every meal nor is it vital to our health. There are plenty of other foods that can fill the place of grains. Personally, I have also found that grains make me feel slow and heavy. Rarely do I need them, so I usually go for greens and take the grains only when my body is really asking for it. My suggestion to you is to also try substituting grains for greens and seeing how your body feels!
DAILY GRAINS TO GREENS SUBSTITUTIONS
Eggs and Toast: Avocado and eggs, tofu scramble and avocado, sautéed greens with spices over eggs, eggs with fruit on the side
Toast or Oatmeal: Smoothies with a handful of greens. Skip the grains eat an avocado or fresh fruit. fruit or a yogurt bowl
Burgers: Put your burger over greens rather than on a bun.
Tacos: Put all your fixings over greens or use a romaine lettuce boat.
Stir-Fry: Skip the rice or use 1/4 of what you normally would.
3. Level Up Your Smoothies
Many people make smoothies, but the most common complaint that I hear is it doesn’t keep them full until lunch. As a nanny, I completely understand that. Most days it is really important that I eat at breakfast and I’m good until lunch. When you are making a smoothie it’s important to make sure there is fat and protein in it, not just fruit. For many people that rush of fruit in the morning is too much, but by cutting back on the fruit and adding more vegetables, fat, and protein you will find a smoothie to be much more sustaining.
Carrots, beets, sweet potato, pumpkin puree, spinach, kale, vanilla, cacao, spirulina, coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk, avocado, coconut oil, nut butter, nuts, nut milk rather than traditional milk, or hemp seeds
4. Don’t Let Anything go to Waste
This may seem like an odd tip, but hear me out! I often see people make a meal and then get tired of the leftovers and not eat it anymore. If you make a healthy meal and have leftovers make it part of your breakfast or lunch the next day. We often make curry and have leftovers, so we will use them for breakfast. Taco night leftovers make a great breakfast and lunch leftover as well, whether it’s over eggs, tofu, or lentils you can’t go wrong! The biggest part of this step is getting creative with what you have in the kitchen. You don’t have to hurt your brain thinking about this. Whatever it is you want to make think of a way you can use what you already have or how you can add it to what you are going to make. So, what are the benefits? You will spend less money if you use everything (easier on the bank account), you are less likely to overeat, sneaky extra veggies that will otherwise go to waste, add more spices to your food (medicinal health benefits), save time with fewer grocery store visits, and simplify your life.
I was intimidated before I tried yoga but I loved it becoming an advocate. Yoga doesn’t need to be two hours a day at a yoga studio to benefit you. My suggestion is that everyone does it a little bit each day. The point is to improve your flexibility, quiet your mind and allow your muscles to move in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. If you like structure; try a yoga app or go to a class at your local studio. The other way you can practice is intuitive yoga. Get on your mat for an allotted amount of time and move your body in whatever feels good. This is really easy to do in the morning before work or at night when you get home. A combination of these two methods is my preferred way of practicing yoga. Doing a class every once in awhile jumpstarts my inspiration but intuitive yoga really allows me to feels body and experience a more meditative state.
6. Get Your Sunshine
There is a lot to be said for getting out in the sun! First of all, it feels good! That warm heat on your skin and how the sunlight relaxes you. Ahhhh… And let us talk about vitamin D. It really is an underestimated vitamin. Many people have heard you get it from the sun, but don’t have much awareness beyond that. Your body uses the sunlight to synthesize vitamin D. Our society is also notorious for loading up on sunscreen and not spending enough time outside. Did you know that sunscreen blocks the synthesis of vitamin D? If you slather on the sunscreen every time you’re in the sunscreen your body is not getting the vitamin D it needs. What’s the big deal? Well, vitamin D is involved in multiple functions of the body. Without it, these processes don’t function as they should which can lead to many other problems within the body. It is unlikely a person gets adequate levels of vitamin D each day if they are only relying on diet, without proper sun exposure or a supplement. If this sounds like you I suggest spending 15 minutes in the sun a few times per week. If you think a supplement may be necessary, I encourage you to talk with your doctor and get your vitamin D levels checked first. But for now, just feel the sun on your skin!
Experiment with cutting dairy out of your diet or at least minimize it. Many people are intolerant to dairy, so eating it causes a lot of inflammation within the body. If you are one of these people you may not even know it, because you’ve been eating dairy your whole life. Dairy is also a notorious weight gainer. Have you ever considered that dairy (cow’s milk) was designed to nourish calves into growing big? The hormones in dairy products are meant to gain weight and fat in cows. When humans drink milk they get the same results as well as a much higher risk of disease. I know we have been educated to believe milk is good for us and keeps your bones healthy, but there are much healthier nutrient sources. I suggest eliminating dairy from your diet for 2 weeks and paying attention to how your body feels. Read ingredient labels for hidden dairy. There is often whey and milk powder in things you would not expect! After you have given it a try see decide what the best thing is for you to do. If you have been struggling to lose weight I highly recommend this step.
Almond milk, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut creamer, canned coconut milk, cashew sour cream, coconut yogurt, cashew yogurt, Follow Your Heart dairy-free cheeses, dairy-free cream cheese
8. Start your Day with a Big Glass of Lemon Water
After sleeping your body gets dehydrated, which makes sense since you haven’t had any water in 8 hours. I drink a Mason jar of lemon water every morning before anything else; it’s the first thing I do. Why the lemon? Lemon is great for digestion, good for your skin, contains vitamin C, freshens your breath, and has detoxifying effects! You can use fresh lemon or keep a bottle of lemon juice in your fridge! Since I started drinking water first thing in the morning it is hard for me to believe that I didn’t always do that. It feels so good to start the day out with a big jar of water!
Nighttime is when your body rejuvenates. It takes in everything from the day and utilizes it. Without proper rejuvenation, your body has more stress on it and never heals properly. Your body doesn’t function properly on less than 7 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep, especially chronic lack of sleep is associated with being overweight, chronic illness, shorter lifespan, and high stress. Many people think it’s okay if they are a little tired and that it’s not affecting their health. In actuality lack of sleep is harmful to our body and putting us at health risk. You may be working harder for a better life and compromising your sleep with the intention of a long happy life, but that stress and lack of sleep is actually shortening your lifespan. If you are having health issues or trouble losing weight try looking at the amount of sleep you are or aren’t getting. Make a point of getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night and you will notice a big difference in your day.
10. Say NO to Junk
When I say junk, I mean get rid of anything in your life that isn’t serving you. Junk food is obvious. Everyone has been told that junk food isn’t good for you. The added sugars, chemicals, hormones, milk, soy, and sodium are all harming your body. By eating highly processed foods you are feeding disease and illness and causing weight gain. My best suggestion is to cut the junk food cold turkey and know why you are doing it. The other side of eliminating junk includes people, relationships, obligations, jobs, friendships, or anything else that is taking up negative space. If some of these situations exist in your life and cause you more stress than they benefit you, then it is something to consider cutting out of your life. Say we have 6 boxes of our life. Box 1 is your husband. Box 2 is your kids. Box 3 is your job. Box 4 is taking care of your grandparents. Box 5 is daily tasks. Box 6 is a toxic friendship. What if we emptied box 6? That would free up an entire box of your life for something else- a hobby, self-care, your health, or positive friendships. Consider the things in your life that may not be serving you.
What can you do about it?
I hope you have found these 10 Easy Steps to a Healthy Life helpful and are able to implement them in your life! If you have any questions for me, you are always welcome to reach out to me. You can find my contact info here.
Below you will find a few resources on what I wrote about as well as more information if you want to expand your knowledge!