Spring is upon us folks, and if the thought of swimsuits and physical activity makes you groan in misery, you probably aren’t feeling well. You feel fine, you say? Most of us have underlying pain and fatigue that we acclimate to everyday until it becomes a new state of “normal” – in other words, you don’t think you feel bad because you always feel bad. So how do you re-set your “normal” and get that spring vitality back? Feeling good and being healthy is dependent on incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine. It takes some physical and mental effort, but is well worth doing if it means you can feel good and enjoy life again. Commit to applying the following five healthy habits into your life and I guarantee you will get the spring back in your step!
1. Clean up your kitchen by throwing away junk food that has no nutritional value (cookies, crackers, chips, sodas, candy, etc) and instead, stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, legumes and whole grains. Surrounding yourself with healthy foods removes the temptation to splurge on the junk that fuels chronic disease.
2. Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of filtered water (up to 150 oz). When you’re dehydrated, even mildly, your body stores water in your tissues as a defense mechanism. Increasing your water intake will improve your hydration and actually help you lose water weight.
3. Put down the coffee and pick up some herbal tea. Coffee is great for quick energy in a short term situation, but drinking coffee daily can wreak havoc on your adrenal glands and pH. Limiting your coffee intake to 1 cup per week can help restore your adrenal function and greatly improve your energy and stress levels as well as your bone density.
4. Get outside in the fresh air and sunshine to walk, run, or bike for 30-45 minutes three to five days a week. This reduces stress, increases vitamin D levels, improves your body composition and supports a healthy cardiovascular system. You can also use HIIT (high intensity interval training) or Tabata to make the most of your work out (if you need an interval timer, they’re available at most sporting goods stores or you can install an interval timer app on your smart phone – I like Interval Timer Pro).
5. Watch a nutrition-related documentary (Food Inc, Hungry for Change, and Forks over Knives are three of my favorites) or read a nutrition-related book, like “Fast Food Nation”, or “The Ultimate Mind Solution” every month to inspire and motivate you while making healthy changes.
New behaviors take about six weeks to become habitual, so be prepared to feel a little awkward at first – this is called the “active phase” of habit change. Write these habits on your calendar or set recurring alarms on your phone as a reminder, to help get you to the next phase of change called the “maintenance phase”. At this point, you’ll be set in your new routine and well on your way to a healthy new state of normal and a healthy new you!
– Ashley Howell, CHC