This three-part series of articles will focus on Healthy Habits, Stress Relief, and Balanced Lifestyle. Please leave your comments, ideas, questions and feedback in the Comment section of this blog. Thanks, and, Share the Health.
Note how each topic has 3 areas of Lifestyle activation; Nutrition, Exercise and Sleep; and how the overriding theme to each aspect is Consistency.
HEALTHY HABITS – NUTRITION
- Choose the best available foods – if given the choice to feast on a steak dinner, do not choose the Denny’s “$6.99 Special with all the Fixins” just because it’s cheap or close to home; treat yourself to the best steak you can find/afford, whether it’s from a traditional steakhouse or your local butcher. If you’re going to treat yourself, treat yourself to the best possible choice. Eat slowly, enjoy it, savor it, appreciate it and look forward to the next time you have a taste for it, but never overeat or make a habit of it.
- Slow down your eating – thoroughly appreciate and enjoy foods and utilize all the nutrients from them; every meal, from the butter on your toast in the morning, to that last sip of almond milk from your cereal bowl at night, should be fully enjoyed. Be grateful and thankful and make sure it offers value to your body and mind.
- Increase your vegetable consumption – especially greens, to increase Vitamin K and magnesium in addition to a broad spectrum of minerals and vitamins (try one of the “green super foods” concentrations to ensure balanced amounts and types of minerals). Many common foods are vitamin fortified, but few are mineral fortified and that’s where our diets are lacking in value. A wide range of greens and colored vegetables will ensure you get adequate amounts of trace minerals which are so sparse in our common diets.
- Eat small portions of a variety of foods – rather than large meals of massive calories and carbohydrates; stay hungry, but never “stuffed”; and resist grazing. Eat snacks from all 3 food groups, an apple, almonds, cheese; to get small doses of protein, carbohydrates and fats throughout the day, so you’re never craving any one food, but eat a little of each, each time. Develop a discipline of eating consistent staple foods – foods that you enjoy and take little preparation, while offering high nutritional value. Always have them available.
- Pay attention to “buzz” foods – Buzz foods, like caffeine, first thing, before anything else gets in the belly, automatically revs the body up so that it’s in a constant state of over-energizing the nervous system; carbs do the same. That constant static runs your system down throughout the day like a low voltage light, unnoticed until you’re burned out. If you’re eating toast with jelly and a cup of coffee, you’re telling your body to get going “now”. It would be better to start slowly, drink lemon water while making eggs or oatmeal and let the body and mind warm up to the day, rather than attacking it like a live electrical wire that’s constantly “humming”, using up energy you think you’re giving it, but actually using energy it has not even made available.
- Be consistent – your body thrives on good food, small portions, often. Give it the best you can on a consistent basis and your metabolism, and pants, will thank you.
HEALTHY HABITS – EXERCISE
- MOTIVATION + ABILITY + TRIGGERS = BEHAVIOR – You will be motivated to the degree to which you feel comfortable, capable and competent in the activity and your ability to participate consistently. Do not wait for a catastrophic event to force you to exercise as a live or die alternative – be proactive toward exercise
- How you behave and treat exercise begins with your attitude toward it; a positive motivation, like a new wardrobe or trip, can get you started; but ultimately, you will have to garner the good it’s doing for you into your mantra of getting it done. Pick something you’re capable of accomplishing consistently, and let that be the trigger that fires you into daily action. Notice how you look, feel, think and act, and let those feelings guide you. There will be many days you resent it, but twice as many full of compliments and congratulations on what you’re accomplishing.
- Do what you can – choose sports and activities you have an ability to pursue as well as an affinity toward. See yourself doing them, read how to be better, get a trainer, learn. One client who couldn’t swim, never ran and had no bicycle, wanted to be a triathlete before her 40th birthday. Her attitude and ambition got her to finish two events within a year. Sure, it was work, but with consistent training, a few tears, trepidations and trials she never saw any part of it as being an activity she could not do. She believed, had faith and put one foot in front of the other until she reached the finish line.
- Give yourself measurable goals that add up – so you truly feel you’re accomplishing something – daily walks, weekly workouts, x amount of yard work, exercise classes, gym days, golf or tennis, swimming, sports with children, etc. A good golfer keeps score to constantly be in a state of improvement. Treat your exercise activities with the same attention and take the time to notice and reward the improvements you see.
- Be ready to try something new – Challenge yourself to new classes, workouts, activities. Your body is meant to be in motion. It is not a piece of furniture. It was made to move, it enjoys movement, it thrives and grows and meets the challenges set before it and then remembers past activities so you can build new strengths and try new activities. You lose function when you don’t use functions. The longer you stay away from it, the harder it is to get back to it and the more it goes away which keeps you in a perpetual state of restarting. It’s like swimming backwards, you’re going somewhere, but it’s not where you want to be.
- Be consistent – your body craves it – get through the first 3 or 4 hard days of initiation, and you’ll look forward to it thereafter. There is no reason your workouts cannot be play. Ideas are plentiful, assistance is available, information is abundant, facilities are on every corner. DO NOT HAVE MORE EXCUSES THAN DISCIPLINE!
HEALTHY HABITS – SLEEP
- Get the “best available” sleep – How many times have you slept in a chair, comfortably, when 20 feet away there’s a bed with a $2500 mattress? Why does that happen? It happens when the body is so exhausted it will take anything as an excuse to pass out. How about when you get three hours sleep and you feel terrific, and then you get 10 hours sleep and you feel like crap? This happens because our bodies cycle through sleep in 90 minute cycles. When your body cycles through that time without disturbance or interruption, it gets rested. When it sleeps past those cycles or shorter than those cycles, it is “off.”
- Get a minimum of 6 hours of sound sleep – equal to 4 – 90 minute cycles. Each sleep cycle takes you deeper and deeper into restful sleep. If you are awakened midway through a cycle, you must start all over again, dropping through those levels to get to the deepest state. It literally is “falling asleep”; you are dropping deeper and deeper through the conscious, semi-conscious and unconscious states. If you are awakened within that last 30 minutes of the 90 minute cycle, you will remain in that groggy, half-rested state, trying the rest of the day to gain momentum with physical action when the mental will not cooperate.
- Do not agonize yourself into an anxious state – of “have to get to…” sleep. Try a gratitude approach instead, “this bed feels great…these sheets are so soft…the breeze feels so good…I’m happy for all I was able to accomplish today.” The messages you send your body and mind at the end of the day will influence the type of next day you’ll have; this is your last chance to be positive, regardless of how hard the day was.
- Begin a consistent pattern – of winding down your nights and winding up your days. Babies know how much and when to sleep. How did we forget?
- A sleep pattern is called that for a reason – It’s a pattern that your body is either in rhythm with, or out of sync with. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, even on vacation.
- Use darkness and silence – in going to sleep and in waking each day. These are two of the easiest, yet most beneficial points you can take from this essay.
- Use the www.SLEEPYTI.ME site – to reset your sleep cycle. It’s a simple url that asks, “I have to wake up at?” or “I am going to fall asleep at?”, then gives you a 15 minute window in which your body normally takes to fall asleep. It gives you optimum waking times in 90 minute intervals; and the best part is, IT WORKS!
- Utilize these healthy habits of consistent Nutrition, Exercise, and Sleep for 21 days to see what a difference they make in your lives.
And last, if you have any questions that I can help with, any motivations or support you need, please email me. Any suggestions, recipes, insights or information are also welcome and appreciated. Share the Health