I have a lot to say about holistic health, nutrition, self-care, exercise, and fitness. I’m passionate about all of these subjects of my writing, but if I could get just 5 things across to you, here is what they would be.
Eat Whole Foods
I was brought up in the age of processed food. I’m hopeful that with new research and evidence coming out every day, we’re slowly moving away from what author Michael Pollan calls “food-like products” and back towards whole foods, the way we were meant to eat.
Over the past 30 or so years, the food industry and science have been tinkering with our foods, stripping away all the nutrients to increase shelf life and profit margin. Then, when evidence comes to light that these “foods” are bad for you, the industry fortifies them with vitamins, or slaps a “whole grain” “fat free” “trans fat free” “low cholesterol” label on them to detour your attention or band-aid the problem.
Over the past 30 years, parallel to the processing of our food supply, we have become fatter and fatter, childhood obesity has skyrocketed, 69% of Americans are overweight , heart disease and diabetes and metabolic syndrome and cancer are rampant like never before, but most of us can’t understand why.
By eating whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, lean meats, whole grains and legumes, you will give up the need for dieting ever again. Eating a variety of these whole foods each day will give us every nutrient we need to not only function, but to ward off ALL KINDS of diseases and problems. This is how we are supposed to eat, and an instance in which nature trumps technology and science in a big way.
Move, Doesn’t Matter How
Most of us work, and work a lot. We sit behind desks all day. But our bodies were not made for this! Does this mean we need to quit our jobs and start laboring for a living? Nope. Just move, every single day, as much as you can.
Walk to the local store instead of driving, ride your bike for relaxation, jump rope with your kids, or play soccer with your spouse. You don’t need a regimented, exhausting workout schedule if it doesn’t fit in your life.
Just move somehow every day, stimulate your muscles with some sort of strength training 2-3 times a week, and you will reap the benefits: better sleep, better stress management, more endorphins, less anxiety and depression, and a decreased risk for all lifestyle-related illness.
Relax and Enjoy Life!
Don’t take all of this so seriously. Every day is a gift, and perspective is EVERYTHING. There is no race, no contest, no prize for being the busiest or the wealthiest or the thinnest. All we have is this very moment, and it’s up to us whether we are going to enjoy it or not.
Eliminate any unnecessary commitments and learn to enjoy leisure time. This will help tremendously with stress reduction. Carve out an hour a day to read, watch a funny show, play games with family, or even just take a nap.
When you sit down to eat, learn to savor every bite. Eating should be a joy, it’s one of the greatest pleasures in life!
Exercise should also be a treat. If you are dreading your exercise, it’s time to find something new. Exercise can and should be playtime for grownups! The more you love it, the more you’ll want to do it.
Every minute of our day should be happy. There is no “someday”, so stop putting your life off and working towards happiness and health in some distant future, and fill your moments with joy every single day. Take deep breaths, count your blessings, and let the rest go.
Look in the mirror. There is no one else in the world like you, capable of the things you are capable of, unique in the way you are. Are you looking in the mirror and hating what you see, disgusted? How is that working for you? The energy you are wasting when you hate yourself could just as easily be used to support and nurture instead, with greater and longer lasting results.
This is difficult for so many of us, including me. It has become second nature to look in a mirror and compare ourselves to the societal ideal that is pushed on us in the media. We’re never good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, strong enough, rich enough, fast enough. This is insane, you guys.
If you want a physical transformation, try practicing self-care. This is simply taking your focus away from how you look and directing it to how you feel. Feed yourself the best foods, get enough rest, learn to listen to your body and what it needs from you. The physical transformation will not only come, but it will stick. You can force and hate your way to temporary weight loss, but how likely is it to last?
Make Your Health A Priority
If you focus on your health, the rest of the pieces will usually come together effortlessly. When I became sick of needing dessert after every meal and the blood sugar crash that always followed, I decided to do something about it and focused on getting healthy.
The extra weight fell right off without me even realizing what was happening. Imagine my shock after 10 really difficult years of yo-yo dieting and stressing over losing that weight. But it all clicked for me, and the more focused I became on my health, the better my body looked.
It’s not just about living a long life. That is a really abstract concept, thinking of living a long time, and really not very motivating. What is motivating is to live our very best life every single day. To not feel imprisoned by our bodies, for our food and exercise choices to set us free and help us to feel our very best, and to not have the stress of possible diet-related illness sitting heavy on our shoulders every moment that goes by. Good health, both mental and physical, is FREEDOM.
Do you already follow any of these rules? What are the most important healthy rules you live by?