Do you ever feel confused with what to do with your health? Are you anxious to prevent disease but feel like there are too many ways to do it? Or are you just overwhelmed by the mile long row of vitamins that all look like they would work for you?
Every day that we open a magazine, sign onto the internet, or turn on a TV, we are bombarded with someone telling us how to be healthy. Maybe its a website banner for weight loss supplements, a full page print layout for the newest diet plan, an instagram post of a vegan sundae, or a medication commercial educating us on why we may need this newest drug and how much better our lives would be if we took it. Whatever the media may be, the message remains the same, "In order to be healthy and live a long life, you need to spend a lot of money and follow a complicated plan."
I have news for you. It doesn't. Good health and long life are within your grasp and you don't need a second mortgage to afford it or a Phd to understand how to obtain it. All you need is a little common sense and an openness to step outside the box.
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer and sometimes too much detail is actually too much detail. This couldn't be more true than with health and wellness. Getting back to the basics of what to eat is the true strait path to better health. This is as easy as it sounds. It means you are choosing real whole foods over fake heavily processed foods. It means you are choosing activity instead of sitting around. You are choosing to get to bed early rather than staying up late, and choosing more fruits and vegetables instead of trying to supplement with a powder. It also means you are choosing whole grains instead of cutting out whole food groups.
In addition to eating simply its important to also cook simply. Instead of needing a complicated recipe that involves 20+ ingredients, you can steam some vegetables, drizzle some olive oil and top with herbs and spices. Or instead of dousing a loin of meat with BBQ you can simply roast it in the oven with nothing more than salt and pepper- actually taste the food for what it is rather than tasting the flavor of the marinade or your dipping sauce.
So make your first step easy. No need to stress. Turn the TV off, deactivate the fitness app. Maybe your start is an hour earlier bedtime. Or perhaps you start by adding in an evening walk. Maybe you eat an apple, in fact maybe you eat an apple every day...
Top 8 Nutrition Tips for 2018
1. Create balanced meals
Make your plate colorful and bright. Choose lots of veggies, eat a moderate amount of protein, and eat less carbs, especially the refined variety. Try to have vegetables at each meal
2. Drink more water
Choose clean water. If you need, it’s ok to add in some fruit or herbs to diffuse in the water to add some flavor to the food.
3. Eat whole real foods
Choose less heavily processed foods. Reduce the chemicals in your food by avoiding convenience foods that are often loaded with preservatives. Choose foods that are in their whole-natural form.
4. Cut out sugary beverages
This includes soda, juice, gourmet coffees, smoothies, etc.
5. Use fewer condiments
Condiments often contain a lot of sugar and sodium. These foods are typically low in nutrition and are merely added calories. Try flavoring food with herbs and spices instead. For example instead of BBQ sauce on ribs, try adding a dry rub.
6. Eat more fiber
Add in foods like seeds, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Some high fiber foods include broccoli, beans, pears, chia seeds, almonds, berries, brussel sprouts, oatmeal etc.
7. Eat locally when able
Choosing local foods not only supports local farmers, but is also healthier. Winter is a bit tougher, but in the summer time you can easily access the farmers market and the co-op. Wintertime you have to plan ahead for during the summer and fall. Try canning or freezing some of your own produce or what you bought at the market. Otherwise try choosing foods that haven’t traveled quite so far to get to you.
8. Think about what your food is doing for you!
Last but not least… before you take a bite or order that favorite dish, think about what the food is doing for you… Is it hurting your body? Is it helping your body? Is it bringing you joy to eat that food? Does eating the food make you feel guilt and regret?
A: Absolutely. The health benefits of yoga reach far beyond simply being able to touch your toes, although for many people this is accomplishment enough.
Yoga has an impact on all systems of the body. It is beyond the space of this column to list the why behind it, but I can share a little of what is improved.
Most people don't realize that yoga helps to strengthen bone. It also increases muscle mass and improves strength. It also lubricates the joints and relieves every day aches and pains. In doing all this it also helps to teach the body how to maintain balance and avoid falls. Maybe better known is its connection to mental health. It is considered common knowledge that yoga helps with stress but not as many are aware that it is also known to help with depression and anxiety. In addition to these physical and mental benefits the breath work that is connected with the movement also impacts other our cardiovascular and respiratory health. Many chronic diseases are improved with the addition of yoga. The list could go on and on. In fact I encourage you to reach out to me to find out more about all the ways that yoga could help you!
Fitness has always been easy for me.
Well, I should correct that and say that the concept, the rules and the structure of exercise and fitness make sense and are controllable and manageable. This makes it fall into the "easy" category of my life. Fitness was a disconnect from the mind. What you put in, is what you got out. No thinking involved and as simple as that. Not to say that the process or the work itself is easy, running a marathon was more than difficult and no weight lifter will tell you that the journey there was rainbows and sunshine. But in my mind these are doable things with a start and finish. Yoga felt that way also. I would see "yogi's" practicing these crazy poses, I would pin images from pinterest of my "goals". Even if some of these seemed off the wall, they were still something I could put time and effort into and see an end result. I figured if I worked hard enough and stretched long enough eventually I would reach these goals.
Then I actually started yoga. And not just going to classes. I had been to classes before and I had practiced at home. In fact I did most of my practice at home, in front of the T.V. I also held my breath on the tough poses and almost laid into the deep stretches. What I was doing was maybe a version of yoga, but what I was gaining was nothing compared to what yoga could give me. I actually started the process of a deep and meaningful yoga practice my first day of teacher training. Although I did hope for teacher training to deepen my own practice, I did not realize to what extent that would happen, or how I could not truly become a teacher without that happening. In fact I assumed it would be similar to every other certification I have. Study, go to trainings, take home a bit of information to apply to myself, take a test, and then eventually apply the knowledge in the work environment. I expected to learn a lot of course, but I didn't understand how deep that education would go. One thing that I definitely did plan for was to be decent at the poses. I admit I had a bit of confidence here. Maybe its because I am the most athletic person in my family so it has always been easy to impress, or maybe its because I have a certain level of fitness that gave my ego a boost. But I figured I would have no trouble with the poses after a bit of practice. Never have I been more wrong. It's not that I was or am bad at the poses or that they are unattainable. Its just that I never realized that there is no end result with them. You can always move more into the stretch, or hold the pose with better alignment. And the number of yoga poses is almost infinite. The goal is never to work to a certain point and stop, the goal is to continually push your limits (safely of course) through the journey of your life and practice. And more than that the goal is that there is no goal. Your practice is what you bring each day to the mat and to your day. It doesn't matter if you can twist your body into a million angles while in the upside down lotus pose or if you can barely get your arms strait in down dog. What matters is that you come ready and open to the process. What matters is that you embrace what the practice can give you.
This is how yoga humbles me. I can't just short cut the process or push myself to finish the race. I have to be patient with my practice and my poses. I can't come to practice making a to do list or going through my day. I have to come ready to be present. I have to leave my troubles at the door. I have to accept where I am in my journey. I have to understand that my journey in yoga is not one that is necessarily like anyone else's. I can't hope to impress my co-workers or friends with my super flexibility. I have to change how I present my yoga in general. My whole view of yoga has changed. I am humbled beyond measure and I appreciate it. In fact I love it and I am thankful that I have started this never-ending journey.
(This is a repost)