I have people ask me ALL THE TIME what they can do immediately to improve their health. So much of this health journey takes time. Time to heal damaged organ systems (especially the digestive system and the blood sugar regulating organs), time to make a behavior a habit, and time to give up some of the things you thought you could never live without (for me it was buffalo wings from any dive bar with LOTS of blue cheese ;-)). This is a never ending process, which can feel really daunting at times.
But there are a few things you can do TODAY that are simple, actionable, and will help you feel better mentally and physically
CHEW YOUR FOOD!
Digestion of our food does not just start in the stomach. This process is a beautiful north to south domino effect. One process needs to lead to another, and without that falling domino the next process cannot properly take place. Taking the time to chew for at least 30 seconds after each bite begins the physical break down of your food as well as gives your saliva the opportunity to begin to breakdown carbohydrates through salivary amylase. When this first step of chemical and mechanical breakdown does not take place, the rest of the digestive organs need to make up for this lack of breakdown. This puts undo stress on an already over taxed system. Do your entire digestive system a favor, and chew your food!
I talk about the importance of chewing your food A LOT in my two week “Introduction to Whole Food Nutrition” group!
DRINK ENOUGH WATER!
Water is one of the most vital nutrients in our lives, and so many of us are simply not getting enough. Water helps with everything from joint hydration, to cognitive function, to helping maintain the electrical current in our bodies. Use the below calc to figure out how much water you need to intake per day! Then my favorite water tracking app, My Water (also works with the apple watch!), buy a cute water bottle and hit that water goal!
Current Body Weight / 2 = Minimum oz of water to consume
Diuretics (in oz) consumed per day (coffee, tea, alcohol) x 1.5 = additional oz of water to consume
Additional 10 oz of water for every 30 minutes of exercise
TOTAL WATER GOAL!
Also, make sure your water is filtered and from a clean source as to not increase the amount of toxins in the body!
BRAIN DUMP YOUR DAY!
At the beginning of every day, or the night before, write out your day. This is how I do it everyday:
- DIVIDE THE DAY INTO THREE PARTS: I now do morning, afternoon, and evening. It used to be BEFORE NAP and AFTER NAP. But you could do before work, after work, and evening. Or something similar to fits into how your day is structured.
- ADD THE MUST DO’S: These are things like work, deadlines, school assignments, doctors appointments, workouts (THESE ARE A MUST DO!) and other things I cannot miss and that have time constraints on them.
- ADD THE OTHER TO DO’s. These are things that would be nice to get done, but do not absolutely have to be done that day or at any specific time of day. For example, if my cleaning schedule says to do 2 loads of laundry that day I will write which part of the day it makes the most sense to get those things done. Or if dry cleaning needs picked up and its totally fine if it gets pushed off until tomorrow I will write that in as well.
- ADD THE MEAL PLAN: Every Sunday I plan out my breakfast, lunch, and dinners for the week. I keep everything really simple by having the same thing for breakfast and lunch everyday and utilizing left overs for dinner as often as possible. As long as I know the plan I will not find myself starving and running to Chipotle at 11AM between kiddo pick up and drop offs.
- ADD KEY STONE GOALS: These are the two to three things that I have written out either in the MUST DO’s or the OTHER TO DO’s that would make my day AMAZING if they got done. Like if everything else goes to shit (which it sometimes does!) if these few things are done then it is still a good and productive day. Sometimes it is my workout if I am really feeling the need to move, sometimes it is handing in an essay for school if that deadline is fast approaching and I have not gotten to sit down and concentrate on it yet.
This brain dump allows you to be proactive in your day. Unexpected things will come up, obviously, and plans will change. But when you have your day laid out like this you can make necessary changes and react appropriately. When there is no plan for the day, the unexpected things that come up have a way of totally derailing us and make us feel like we are putting out fires all day long. With the brain dump we can keep the goal in mind (a productive day) but be flexible in the approach.
Watch Mel Robbins Ted Talk for more information. Since watching this and reading her book “The 5 Second Rule” I have done this everyday and I cannot express enough the difference it has made.
EAT ENOUGH FAT!
Fat is an essential nutrient in our lives, and just like water, most of us are not getting enough and we are not getting a balance of the correct kinds of fats. Our society has taught us to be afraid of fat and it is time to put that fear aside. Eating an array of fats from properly raised and slaughtered animals (EAT THE GOD DAMN CHICKEN SKIN!), plant sources (HELLO AVOCADOS AND OLIVES!!!), and nuts (BRAZIL NUTS ALL THE WAY!) aids in so many processes in the body. It helps regulate our metabolism, helps regulate our ability to inflame and anti inflame, and we need it to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. If you want to sleep better, look better, and feel better, then fat is your friend!
When I tell you to eat more fat, I am not talking about the french fry variety. These types of fats (poly unsaturated that have been brought to a very high heat) are incredibly unstable, damaged, and introduce free radicals and rancid fats into your body. This does not promote optimal health.
Mark Sisson has written an amazing blog post all about fat and your go to guide for utilizing fat in your everyday life.
All of the meals in the Simple 7 Solution have a proper balance of fats and incorporate the correct types of fats as well!
START YOUR DAY WITH BREATH, WATER, MINERALS AND GRATITUDE!
This is the most important point yet, and seriously the best bang for your buck. Every morning when you wake up you have some super drugs at your disposal. Even if you are NOT a morning person and you LOATH getting yourself out of bed, taking 15 minutes to do these things everyday will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
Fill a glass with 10 oz warm water. Add 1/8 tsp sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. While you drink it take 5-6 DEEP breaths, and then write down 3 things you are grateful for in that moment.
Literally thats it. I could re-create the wheel and type out all the reasons why this is good for you, but I am not about that. Just like in my Simple 7 Solution, I provide to you the best resources and I cannot even begin to pretend that I am smart or creative enough to come up with them.
And there you have it! The 5 things you can do to jump start your journey optimal health TODAY. In the Ayurvedic tradition they believe that our health (or lack there of) lies in our daily routine (again, or lack there of). While the journey to optimal health and feeling really good can take time, we all have the power to harness our daily routine to bring us a little closer each and every day. The time is going to pass by anyway, you might as well feel good while it does.