Part of having a balanced life is caring for our bodies. The better you feel–and this includes physically, mentally, and spiritually– the better you’re able to fulfill the calling for your life.
If you’re overwhelmed by the conflicting and overwhelming information that’s out there, sometimes it causes us to give up before we’ve even started. Given so many choices, we freeze in indecision. The good news? That’s perfectly normal. The bad news? It’s not where you want to be, right?
If that’s you, I want to tell you that starting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult, and it doesn’t require you to drink or eat unfamiliar foods. Here’s my quick list of easy ways you can start a healthy lifestyle today. The most difficult part of it is being consistent, but in no way does this mean you have to be perfect. Just pick one of these habits and do your best. The focus is on progress, not perfections.
1.Drink more water for sixty days in a row.
This one’s a no brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how difficult this is for both adults and children. As moms, we’re always taking care of everyone else, and we often neglect ourselves. Starting today, let’s keep ourselves hydrated (shoot for 64 oz if you’re starting out, 128 oz if you’re exercising 3 or more times per week).
Our adult bodies are made up of mostly water, up to 60% in fact, so it makes sense that we need it to function and thrive. Two of our most important parts, the brain and heart, are 73% water, while muscles and kidneys make up 79% of water. This is why it’s crucial that we give our bodies what it needs so that it can keep doing it’s job.
Don’t like the taste of water? Drop in a few slices of your favorite fruit, such as berries and or citrus, and you have a refreshing drink that’s perfect for the coming summer days.
Unable to drink enough? Carry water with you wherever you go. Keep your water in a bigger bottle, at least 24 ounces, so you can refill it easily. I recommend using a bottle with a sturdy cap that’s also easy to clean. Any brand will do, but I’m partial to Blender bottles. The design is comfortable in your hand, and they fit perfectly in the cup holders in the car.
Have a hard time remembering to drink? You can place alerts on your phone to remind you to drink water every hour. I use alerts for everything, from laundry to keeping myself on task to keep me away from social media when I’m supposed to be working. And yes, I still set alerts to remind me to drink water.
2. Get enough sleep
Go to bed earlier if you need to, even if you’re not tired. It’s not that our bodies need rest as much as our brains need that time of rejuvenation. If you’ve been exercising, that’s when our bodies repair and build the muscles. And if you find yourself unable to sleep, make sure you put away the electronics, since all that stimulation make it that much harder for us to get rest.
Another idea is having a night time ritual to help the body prepare itself for sleep mode. If this works for babies, why wouldn’t it work for us?
Breathing techniques, visualization, meditation, and prayer are all helpful as well.
3. Minimize Stress
We all know the dangers of stress, but so many of us deal with various stressors that elevate our cortisol levels. If this isn’t controlled, our immune systems will weaken, which allows diseases and such to attack and develop in our bodies.
Stress also affects certain body functions as well. I remember a few years ago when I was convinced I was pregnant because I didn’t get my cycle for over three months. When I saw my doctor, he told me my results were negative and that I needed to stop internalizing the stress in my life. Once I became aware of what was going on and focused on lowering my stress levels, my cycle returned.
4. Eat Nourishing Foods
I can hear you groaning, and I’m sure there are more than a few eye rolls when it comes to eating. Many of us have such an emotional attachment to food–we derive pleasure from some and practically gag at other foods.
Can I tell you a secret?
You don’t have to eat food you hate. There, I said it.
However, (yes, there’s always a but) you should still try out different foods until you find ones you enjoy or at least can tolerate. The longer you eat real food, the more your taste buds will change; they will actually start to crave the foods you may not have enjoyed before.
When it comes to vegetables, there’s a plethora of options to choose from. Sometimes it’s also the manner in which it’s cooked that will help you eat it.
For example, I don’t like beets. Even when I add a tiny bit to my smoothies I feel as if I’m drinking dirt. I can tolerate boiling them and eating them in salad, but it’s still not my favorite. But then I discovered that eating it in fine, shredded noodles, like how jicama is prepared as a bed for sashimi, tastes delicious. I also enjoy it in pickled form, so that just shows you that you shouldn’t give up on a vegetable until you’ve exhausted its cooking methods.
If you’re going to remember anything from this food section, remember that eating lots of protein is good for you. It doesn’t matter if your protein source is from animals or plants. Your body needs protein to build and maintain muscle. I used to believe that I’d never be able to reach a healthy weight. For almost my entire life I was underweight, and gaining weight was difficult. I thought I was healthy, but I had no energy or strength. My skin lacked muscle tone, and that’s not what I wanted. However, once I started eating more calories that fit my macros, especially protein, combined with the muscle building exercises at the gym, I started gaining the strength and energy I needed.
You knew I would mention this, didn’t you?
Like anything difficult, exercise is one of those things that you either love or hate. You don’t have to join a gym if you don’t want to, but you need to keep your heart healthy, regardless of the activity. If you enjoy the outdoors, hiking and running are great activities. One of my girlfriends committed to a hiking challenge last year, and it’s been inspiring to see the gorgeous photos of all the locations and to see her beautiful smile at the top.
What else? Yoga is great for increased flexibility, mental sharpness, and it’s the only exercise I’ve done where I’m completely still but sweat is dripping off my face.
And of course, there’s the gym. If you have a gym membership, use it. Going three to four times per week for an hour each time will do you a world of good. If you have little ones, there’s often childcare available as well, so you can take have that “me time” and not worry about your children for a couple of hours.
I’m convinced that exercise, supported by the nourishing foods you eat, is the fountain of youth.
So those are my top five ways to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle. What do you think of them? Did I miss anything on this list that needs to be here?
The best part of this list is the fact that these are all things we’re all aware of. If you start getting overwhelmed by all the information that’s out there, remember to keep it simple. Don’t do all this at once. Start with one habit for 60 days, like drinking more water, and once you have a handle on that add another goal. By taking these small steps, you’re making your way towards a lifestyle that has so many benefits.
Until next time,