A Healthy Lifestyle Doesn't Mean You Need to Change Your Whole Life
Believe it or not, we are all more than capable of making a few simple changes in our health habits. You don't need to go on a fad diet (nor do I recommend that you go on one) and you don't need to spend $400 a week on groceries to do so.
All you need is a little bit of a mindset shift and the drive to be just a little bit healthier than you were yesterday. Day by day, week by week, year by year all these little healthy habits will add up to larger healthy habits that impact your mental and physical health greatly... contrary to popular belief, you don't need to wake up tomorrow and become a completely brand new person whose done a total 180 overnight. Yes, some people do need to go that extreme due to their very poor current state of health... but for the large majority of us, continuously working towards small, attainable health goals will sustainably propel us towards a life that is rich with health and happiness.
This week's Wellness Wednesday post contains 3 simple and effective health tips to help you transition into a healthier lifestyle. But please do remember, consistency is key. You don't just go to the gym once and get swole. You can't drink enough water just one day a week and expect to stay hydrated. One chiropractic adjustment isn't going to balance your nervous system for the rest of your life (especially when you don't take care of your body). And a magic pill isn't going to cure you.
Healing takes time. Health takes consistency. But both things are SO achievable and 1000% worth the time, energy, and financial investments. Let's be real, without your health... what do you even have? #healthiswealth Okay... I'll get off my pedestal... for now. So let's get down to business!
#1) Properly hydrate
Stereotypical health advice, I know. But it's because proper hydration is a fundamental aspect of health. Did you know that up to 60% of our bodies are made up of water?
According to the USGS, here are the water content estimates for different vital organs in our bodies:
- lungs: 83% water
- muscles & kidneys: 79% water
- heart & brain: 73% water
- skin: 64% water
- bones: 31% water
Drinking water ensures that nutrients are being delivered to your cells and that your body is properly digesting your food. Staying hydrated also regulates your blood pressure, protects your joints/tissues/organs, and helps your body get rid of toxins.
No wonder why some of us feel like crud when all we've drank in a day is 3 iced coffees and half a glass of water... Yikes! For the average person, it is recommended that you drink 4-6 cups of water per day. It is important to take into consideration our overall health, body size, caffeine intake, amount we sweat in a day, etc. when determining how much water we actually need in a day.
I follow a simple rule to monitor my hydration- you don't want bright/deep yellow urine but you also don't want your urine too clear too often. Light yellow urine is generally an indicator of healthy hydration levels. If you are concerned about your water intake, please consult your doctor for individualized healthcare advice.
#2) Get a good night's rest
If someone tells you that "you can sleep when your dead" or that you can function just fine without adequate sleep, simply let that ish go in one ear and right out the other. Rest is ESSENTIAL to our short-term and long-term health. Getting enough rest impacts our mood, our immune system function, our emotional health, and even our ability to adapt to stress. The reasoning behind this is simple- when we rest, our nervous system goes into a parasympathetic state and cues our bodies to go into healing mode.
It is recommended that the average adult get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Children and adolescents typically need 9+ hours of sleep per night and those under age 5 require even more sleep than that. If you'd like a more specific breakdown of how much sleep is needed for a specific age group or enjoy nerd-ing out over sleep information, I've linked an interesting article titled "Why Do We Need Sleep?" by Sleep Foundation.
#3) Eat real foods
Chances are you don't need to go on a diet... and even if you do, there's a good chance that that diet won't be sustainable long-term and therefore it's positive effects are only short-term. For the average person, extreme diets are NOT an effective approach towards a healthy lifestyle.
Diets tend to focus on all the things you "can't" have and instill a sense of guilt if you deviate from those strict guidelines. Generally speaking, eating real foods and minimizing processed/fast foods are the shift you need towards giving your body and your mind the nutrients it needs to function well and be both happy and healthy.
Here are some basic, general nutrition tips to start with:
- integrate a colorful variety of fresh and/or frozen fruits & veggies into your meals every day
- avoid heavily processed meats and instead reach for USDA organic meats like grass-fed beef, chicken breasts, albacore tuna, sockeye salmon, and uncured turkey bacon
- if the food you're eating has a massive ingredient label, toss it in the trash
- healthy fats are good- avocados, nuts, olive oil, goat cheese, wild salmon, coconut, etc.
- satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits, dark chocolate or cacao, and homemade smoothies
- ditch the white wonder bread and switch to whole grain, organic breads
- if foods or drinks make you feel like crap, avoid consuming them
- cook more, go out to eat less
- eat more complex carbs like sweet potatoes, steel cut oatmeal, beans, vegetables and whole grain pastas
- minimize added sugar intake
The key thing with food is to make sure you aren't just eating calorie-rich, nutrient-poor food... this will lead to weight gain, hormonal issues, poor energy levels, and decreased health over time. Instead do your best to eat nutrient-rich foods daily!
This list is not an all-inclusive health guide. It's merely intended to be a starting point to help you begin to transition into a more healthful and well life. I apply each of these 3 tips to my daily life as well as weekly chiropractic adjustments, regular movement (yoga, walking, hiking, kayaking, etc.), and maintaining healthy relationships while cutting toxic ties. Health is a lifestyle. It's not a fad and it's certainly not something that you achieve once and don't have to work to maintain. But guess what? It's the most valuable investment you'll ever make.
Health isn't complicated. Really it's simple. Give your body what it naturally needs to function well and you will be well.
If you are in Columbia Falls or the Flathead Valley area and you are looking to work with a healthcare professional who can help guide you to a healthier lifestyle, please don't hesitate to reach out to our office. We would love to help you live your best and most full life possible!
*Disclaimer: Neither this blog post nor this website are intended to treat or diagnose any health or medical condition. It is merely offered as a general educational tool rather than individualized healthcare advice. It's always important to consult your own doctors when making important decisions about your health.