Welcome to the middle of the week and the next 10 simple steps that you can take to improve your health. At this point you have 40 different steps that you can take and you may be feeling overwhelmed. Choose one, just one, and focus on it this week. Here are ten more to consider embracing.
#31 Keep Healthy Snacks With You
I have vivid memories of crying in the grocery store with my boyfriend (now husband). After our rock climbing excursions, we’d be hungry and head to the store to grab something. The only problem was that I was TOO hungry to make a decision.
The exhaustion and hunger would inevitably bring me to tears. Eventually, he learned to always have a bar with him and he made sure I always had a bar with me too. Back then it was a PowerBar or a Clif Bar. I don’t eat those anymore — too much sugar and grains. I do however, carry with me the lesson of always having a snack on hand. For me this means an RXbar, some beef jerky, Phat Fudge, some fruit, or my new favorite, Power Balls (yes, you read that right).
After trying the variety pack, I quickly adopted the habit of popping one in my mouth post workout, and the other day I was in a meeting that went WAY longer than I thought. I was hungry and a package of Powerballs did the trick.
#32 Sleep Naked
At the risk of TMI, I started an experiment a few weeks ago. I started sleeping naked. You see, sleeping naked has been shown to improve metabolism, facilitate hormone balance while you sleep, improve circulation, and improve the quality of your sleep. It reduces your cortisol levels, and sleeping naked also allows those nether regions the ability to breathe — which is good for them. Okay, so that’s all great, right? I also found that it improves your awareness of and connection to your body. And let me be perfectly honest and also say that it improves your sex life. 😉
So what to do about the kids, the dogs that need to get up in the night, and those other bothersome reasons why we often wear clothes to bed… I just put a nice bathrobe next to my bedside. I’ve been sleeping sans PJs for two weeks and I don’t plan on going back.
#33 Eat a Variety
Embracing variety in your diet is easier said than done. I completely understand. I’m a bit of a lazy eater, and a bag salad and a rotisserie chicken from the store is my go to, or tacos – I love tacos. But eating chicken and salad all the time just isn’t good for anyone.
The goal is to get your nutrients from food, right? So that means consuming a variety of foods.
Mushrooms are high in B vitamins and potassium, kale is high in iron and magnesium. Berries are high in antioxidants… you get the picture. Variety! Even if you’re not like me and you have more than three go-to meal ideas, you may not be getting the variety that your body needs. Yes, you can take a multivitamin, but your body processes nutrients better when they come from food.
So, if you are great at meal planning consider trying one new food each week. It can be a fruit, veggie, or a protein. For example, have you ever tried wild boar? You might consider checking out a meal planning service like RealPlans or create a meal planning routine that supports you to be a bit more adventurous with your weekly meals.
#34 Enjoy Dark Chocolate
Like chocolate? Awesome! Make the switch to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is 50-90% cocoa solids, plus cocoa butter and sugar. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids and less sugar. If dark chocolate isn’t your thing, try starting with 50% and gradually work your way towards 90%. You’ll get there. I love mine with a smear of Justin’s Almond butter. Just a little square or two of Chocolove Dark Chocolate (88% cocoa) and I’m a happy lady. Dark chocolate has been shown to:
- Protect the heart vessels and cells
- Increase insulin sensitivity and reduce Type II Diabetes risk
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce risk of heart disease
- Make you happy
It’s rich in:
Enjoy some dark chocolate today! (PS, you can make some amazing fat bombs with dark chocolate and monkfruit (zero sugar!) My fav recipe is found at Keto Summit. It’s the Chocolate Coconut Cups recipe.
#35 Reduce Your Couch Time by 30 Minutes
A 2017 study showed that replacing just 30 minutes of sedentary time with light physical activity reduced the risk of death from all causes by 11 percent and death from cardiovascular disease by 24 percent!
The researchers also found that replacing just 10 minutes a day of sedentary time with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity resulted in a whopping 38 percent reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease. Get off the couch!
#36 Unplug One Day Each Week
Unplug from the internet one day each week. My off-line day (the day where I don’t check email and I stay off social media) is Sunday. Today I am actually at a park in Arizona supporting my husband while he runs a 40k race. It’s good to disconnect, to get outside, and to connect with others face to face . Get offline one day a week and enjoy the benefits!
#37 Don’t Eat Anything from the Container
Potato chips from the bag, crackers from the box, cereal by the handful, and my favorite… ice cream from the pint.
When you eat from the container, there’s no awareness about portion size. In fact, there’s often very little awareness at all. Reaching in, grabbing a few, and munching seems harmless enough — but how many times have you opened a bag, munched mindlessly, and then finished the bag in the same sitting?
I know that I’ve finished entire bags of Epic Pork Rinds and cartons of dairy-free ice cream in single sittings! Not good. Instead, portion out how much you want to eat. You can look at the serving size on the package if you want, but instead consider simply dishing out the portion that you want to eat.
Measure it if you’re tracking, and then put the container away. Now, sit down and enjoy your food. Taste it. Be aware of what you’re eating.
#38 Cook With Olive Oil
Most veggie oils are junk and oxidation during processing means you’re putting potentially harmful ingredients into your body. Olive oil, high quality extra virgin, fresh and cold pressed, is rich in polyphenols and healthy fats. Make sure your olive oil is fresh, check the date! (It should be within 12 months) look for olive oil in dark glass bottles, and ideally from the US, California is a high producer of olive oil. Note: avocado and coconut oil are good too.
#39 Perform Random Acts of Kindness
What does kindness have to do with your health?
There are many facets to “health” and wellness. Let’s start with the physiological benefits of kindness:
Physiological benefits of kindness include:
- Strengthened immune system
- Improved cognitive performance
- Increase in energy
- Lower heart rate
- Balanced cortisol levels, which result in less internal stress
- Decreased stress hormones lower your blood pressure and your pain response
The reason behind these physical benefits has everything to do with the hormones released when we feel like we’re connected to others and happy. When you feel like you’re giving back to others, you’re less sad and/or stressed.
We’re talking about hormones like serotonin and oxytocin.
Try it today. Do something random and nice for a stranger. Hold a door, buy a coffee, get creative with your kindness. Create the habit and feel how your mental, emotional, AND physical health improve.
#40 Reduce Your Intake of Beans
Beans are delicious. I won’t argue that fact with you. They also have protein so, okay, there’s nutritional benefit. But the damage they do to your gut outweighs the benefits. What damage? They contain saponins, which damage cells and digestive enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors (including amylase) essentially interfere with your absorption of nutrients. So the food you eat isn’t digested as well and you’re not getting the nutrients you want/need when you eat beans. Beans themselves are actually resistant to digestion (ahem… tremendous flatulence!)
When you’re not digesting the food in your gut effectively, it can quickly lead to bacterial overgrowth and gut problems. And the gut is directly connected to your immune system health and brain health. And perhaps most significantly, these digestive enzyme inhibitors and saponins have been shown to cause inflammation and damage gut cells. (Source: Paleo Principles, Dr Sarah Ballantyne, PhD)
Bottom line, don’t eat beans. If you want to eat them, make it an occasional meal and pay close attention to your digestive system, your energy levels, your sleep, and your appearance.
Take Action Today
Once your chosen habit is actually a habit, and it can take a few weeks to become one, then choose another one. If you embrace one habit a week, at the end of a year you will have made dramatic and significant improvements to your health and you will have done so without the struggle often associated with getting healthy. You’ve got this!
PS. If you want to approach habit change and healthy living (or weight loss) in a more structured and accountable way, schedule a free consultation with me and we’ll talk about how to move forward with confidence and success!