I've learned throughout my time in the health & wellness industry that those who've struggled to maintain optimal wellness, struggle because they get motivated for a specific reason, perhaps an up coming event like a wedding, class reunion, or trip; or they are told by their doctor - you need to lose weight or change your lifestyle because it's affecting your health, and they jump all in! They buy the latest fad-diet book (right now that would be the Keto Diet perhaps), and they start exercising (sometimes twice a day, everyday).
One of two things usually happens at this point, they either go full bore for a week or two and then feel completely overwhelmed and give up saying to themselves," this is just who I am and I'm always going to be this way", or on the other end of the spectrum they go full bore and in a few months they look and feel much better! They have so much more energy and are so excited about their progress that they can't stop telling everyone how they got there! Unfortunately, for most they are not able to maintain this rigorous regimen and they slowly start to slip back into their old habits. And slowly the weight issues and health issues return.
I'd like to provide you with a better strategy to long-term success. Below you will find 4 key ingredients that every person who enjoys optimal wellness likely does. I encourage you to start them right away and continue doing them throughout your entire life to reach and maintain optimal wellness. They are the bare minimum basics. Once you are doing these regularly, we can then pursue more specific tactics based on your individual wellness goals.
Work up to half your body weight in ounces of water each day (example, if you weigh 200 pounds, that equates to 100 ounces of water).
What counts as water? Water and herbal tea.
If you haven’t been drinking that much water, work up slowly, a few ounces every couple of days to give your bladder time to adjust. Note: The average bladder can hold between 10 and 15 ounces when at maximum capacity. If you're drinking enough water for your body and peeing around six to seven times in 24 hours (or around every 2.5 hours), all is likely well, according to Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic.
We as human beings are meant to move! Though, we are highly adaptable beings, it is extremely important to move our bodies. Moving your body gets your heart beating and your blood flowing. By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish all of our cells and keep them vital (we are literally made up of trillions of cells). Our blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body. Therefore, lack of movement disrupts our ability to properly nourish ourselves leading to many types of health issues to include, lack of energy, obesity, to medical conditions, like high-blood pressure, to diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
If you were a police officer, you would be trained in dealing with a high stress situation like an assault or someone pulling a gun on you. If you were an emergency room physician, nurse, or paramedic you’d be trained to deal with high stress situations like a person having a heart-attack. But what kind of training do those same professionals have when they are facing non-immediate chronic stresses like financial problems, relationship problems, family health concerns, and the list goes on and on.
Do you have a stress management plan in place for either situation?
It is extremely important that we have a plan in place to address immediate stresses before they occur (like the first responder's noted above) and also have a plan in place to deal with the chronic stresses in our day to day lives. These stresses are affecting our physical and physiological health.
For those chronic stressful situations, I encourage my clients to find a stress release that is not attached to other people or pets. It's part of life that both people and animals come and go in our lives and stress is usually associated when they go (so using then as a strategy for stress management can have detrimental consequences).
A great stress reliever would be to incorporate in what your passionate about and implementing it as a “go to” when stressed and even when you’re not! For example, if you love playing music, i.e. guitar, or another instrument, do that. If you like taking a walk to clear your head, do that. If you love listening to music, taking a drive, or reading, do which ever you enjoy most. It is important to have an outlet that gets you "out of your head", that can help you reduce the stress hormone response that you’ve built up to avoid physiological, possibly psychological, and physical repercussions. When we are able to go to this kind of stress reliever it allows us to let go and relax.
When you find yourself in those immediately stressful situations, try not to over-react (fight or flight hormones will kick in) with a strategy listed here or by coming up with your own. I can almost guarantee you will be glad you did! The key is to make a sound response instead of an over-reaction that inevitably you may wish you hadn’t made.
Remind yourself that this situation will come to an end and you having a negative reaction will affect you long-term far more then whoever or whatever is happening in the moment.
Count to 10
Take a deep breath in, visualize it going down into your lungs, then your diaphragm, then your abdomen. Slowly exhale.
Practice, practice, practice! Just like the first responders, they only why these strategies will work in an unplanned immediate state is if you've practiced them over and over.
Do you remember as a kid your parents telling you to slow down, chew your food! There is a very good reason for that (whether they were aware of it or not) and it is that the digestive process starts the moment the food (or drink) crosses your lips. Your food is coated in enzymes during the chewing process, extremely important in the digestive process as this will help the nutrients get through all the acid in your stomach.
It also takes 15-20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full!
Reduce or eliminate processed foods
This one is common knowledge but very confusing! Even many healthy, nutrient dense foods are processed (they come in a container or some sort). So, what do we mean by stay away from processed foods?
Read the ingredient label, what is in the product? How many ingredients are in it? Do you know what the ingredients are?
When it comes to ingredient labels, here are the basics:
The ingredients are listed by what the product contains the most of and goes down from there, so the last ingredient listed is what the product contains the least of.
The more ingredients, the more processed the product.
If you don’t know what the ingredients are, it’s likely a highly processed ingredient. Now that we are so connected with our smart phones, it’s a great idea to educate yourself, especially on the products you consume the most.
Many products contain ingredients that can have harmful effects on our health like some additives, preservatives, and food colors.