Most of us think healthy living is as simply watching your ‘diet and exercise,’ however it is so much more than that! Start with the right mindset before anything else. That’s the first ‘S’ of healthy living! The rest of the S’s are just as important, so sit back, sip on something sensational and savor this article. This is seriously super stuff (I love alliterations!)
First S: Self-talk
We all have negative thoughts — thousands of them a day. And I’m here to tell you to STOP those thoughts. It’s the first mental block to knock out of the way to your success at healthy living.
Your thoughts become your beliefs, and your beliefs become who you are. Your mind is a superpower of sorts. It can set you up for success just as much as your thoughts can throw you down a pit of doom! Simply releasing the hidden power of your subconscious mind can bring better health, more joy, and greater success into your life!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to changing the way you think:
The first step is to notice and stop your negative thoughts or “self-talk.” Self-talk is what you think and believe about yourself and your experiences. For example, I’ve always said to myself — “I’m big-boned.” or “I’ve always been a big girl.” I’ve also said things like, “I can’t afford that.” or “I’m broke.” Your subconscious mind BELIEVES your self-talk and will do whatever it takes to make sure it’s true. Your subconscious mind will carry out your thoughts so that, in fact, it will happen. Whoa! I ask you to do this: Carry a small journal with you and take note of just how many negative self-thoughts you have daily. I promise you, you’ll be amazed at how judgmental you are about yourself!
Next step is to ask yourself whether your thoughts are helpful or unhelpful. Most thoughts to yourself are a bit irrational. Look at what you’re saying to yourself. Does the evidence support your negative thought? Your self-talk may be partly true, but exaggerated. Here are a few types of irrational thoughts:
Filtering: You filter out the good and concentrate on the bad. “I ruined my diet this week by eating a big bowl of ice cream,” instead of focusing on the fact that all day you ate fresh whole foods.
Shoulding yourself: A lot of women should themselves all the time; they have set ideas of how they SHOULD be acting. Other words used in this scenario are “ought to” or “have to.” You are setting yourself up for failure when you use these words.
Overgeneralizing: This is taking one example and saying it’s true for everything. Words like “never” or “always” enter here.
All-or-nothing thinking: This is also called “black-or-white” thinking. For example, “If I can’t exercise today, then I’m just going to quit.” In reality, life happens, and sometimes you can’t get to your exercise routine. One slip-up doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track the next day.
The third step is to replace the negative thoughts with a positive thought. Choose an accurate, helpful thought to replace the unhelpful one. Catch yourself in your negative thoughts, stop and think of or write a replacement thought.
For example: You might say, ‘I don’t have time to exercise.’ Replace with a positive thought. Say, ‘I can find the time if I review how I spend my time and ask my family to help with chores.’
Each time you have a negative thought, stop yourself and immediately restructure the thought into something else. Over time, helpful thoughts will come naturally, and you’ll stop yourself from self-deprecation!
Second S: Sleep
Whenever people ask me, “Should I get up early to work out or sleep in if I’m really tired?” I always say, “SLEEP.” Sleep is so very important for our physical and mental health, as our brains are very active during sleep. By NOT sleeping enough, you can actually have a hard time losing weight, keep extra weight around the middle, and have more accidents, to name a few. Insomnia is pervasive in our society, and people are exhausted most of the time. We live over-committed and over-stimulated lives, and it’s killing us. This information is taken from Carol Ebert’s ‘Exhausted No More.’
Quality of life issues affected by the amount of sleep you get:
– Cell renewal and rejuvenation
– Management of stress hormones
– Gut health
– Weight gain
– Chronic disease development
– Cognitive functioning
– Adrenal fatigue
– Memory loss
– Increased cortisol levels
– Risk of Type II Diabetes
Not to mention irritability, severe yawning, hallucinations, symptoms similar to ADHD, decreased reaction time, tremors, and aches. Jeepers!
Causes of Insomnia:
– Increased cortisol
– Overcommitted, not enough down time
– Anxiety and depression
– Wired and tired
– Can’t relax
– Too much sugar
– Too much gluten
– EMF exposure (Electromagnetic Fields from screen time)
Here are some solutions for better sleep:
1. Darken your room completely. Even a little night light or street light shining through the window can affect how well you sleep. Turn the lights on a dim setting for alarm clocks as well.
2. Get enough daytime exercise. Morning is best, but at least 3 hours before bedtime.
3. Cool down your room temperature. I hate to specify a temperature here because everyone is different, but if you’re experiencing sweats at night, your room needs to be cooler.
4. Use a white noise machine or music/noise of your choice.
5. Decrease EMF. Enforce an electronic curfew one hour before bed; that means no screen time at all for that period.
6. Cut down on caffeine.
7. Try Melatonin. Take ½ to 1 mg 90 minutes before you sleep. Melatonin production reduces after age 50-55.
8. Try Magnesium, a calming and relaxing mineral.
9. A small snack before bedtime that includes 80% complex or “right” carbs, 20% protein, and no more than 250 calories. Oh, and no sugar!
10. Decrease alcohol 3 hours before bed, as drinking alcohol prevents deeper sleep.
11. If digestive issues are keeping you up, try eliminating food sensitivities (gluten, eggs, corn, soy, sugar) to see if that eases bloating, constipation, gas, heartburn or belching.
12. If you have trouble falling asleep or awaken and start worrying, do deep breathing and concentrate only on the breath.
13. Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends.
14. Enjoy a restful bedtime routine.
How much sleep do you need? Most adults need 7-8 hours, but you know your body best. If you’re getting less than that, you probably need to ask yourself some questions to decipher is it’s really enough for you. Go through the list at the beginning of this portion about how lack of sleep affects your body. Perhaps you actually DO need more sleep to alleviate those issues.
Third S: Stretch and Stroll
I say ‘stroll’ because it’s an S, so forgive me when I tell you to stroll with a little more intensity, or simply walk! It’s the universal form of exercise! Walk as often as you can, whenever you can. There is no special equipment and there’s little to no risk of injury. Almost everyone can do it.
Park far away from your shopping destination’s front door, take the stairs instead of escalators and elevators, walk your dog. If you don’t have a dog, adopt one at your local Humane Society. They have an adoption program!
If you planned on walking for exercise and it rains, go to the mall and walk or your nearest recreation center. No excuses!
There are three different types of walking according to Gina Shipley, MS at The Cooper’s Institute, and they really have to do with speed.
The first is health walking. You can expect to walk a mile in 16-30 minutes at this pace.
The second is fitness walking. Walking at this speed, a mile would take you 13-15 minutes.
The third is speed walking, where you would be able to walk a mile in under 12 minutes!
Common mistakes include swinging those arms too vigorously, looking down, hunching your shoulders and using ankle or hand weights. All of these can lead to a higher risk of injury.
Stretching is another S because as you age, we start to lose flexibility. Stretching increases circulation, flexibility, and range of motion. It also can reduce stress and pain! Always warm up your body before performing any kind of stretching. This will decrease the chance of injury to your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints, plus it will improve performance. Stretches can be performed after your workout, on your day off from exercise, or a few can even be done before you exercise.
Try to hold each stretch for 20-60 seconds or 2-3 breaths. The goal is to feel better and have a better range of motion for your joints. Never think of yourself as not flexible. You just ARE. Put on some nice music and just relax and breathe into each of these stretches. Check out this website for some great stretching ideas.
Final S: Smoothies
Now, I’m not talking about the smoothies that have only fruit, frozen yogurt and are topped with whipped cream! I’m talking a big dose of healthy smoothies where you get a whole bunch of leafy greens! This truly has become a cornerstone to my personal healthy living, keeping me on track of fitting in 8-10 servings of leafy green veggies each day! Try before you say, ‘Yuck, a green smoothie?’ I dare you!
According to Dr. Sears from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, here are the benefits of smoothies:
– Stabilizes insulin levels
– Improves absorption
– Shapes your tastes (if you’re not a veggie lover)
– Helps with weight loss and waist management
– Alleviates heartburn
– Limits the ‘shuns’ of aging: inflammation, constipation, indigestion, most ‘pains in the gut’
– Improves the “D” disorders: ADD, BPD, OCD
– Eases “Itis” diseases; arthritis, bronchitis, colitis, etc., etc.
Most of these recipes from “Crazy Sexy Juice” by Kris Carr. Each recipe makes two servings. So one smoothie will last you all morning, for both breakfast and mid-morning snack. Sip all morning long, SLOWLY. Pour your smoothie into a thermo cup to keep cold.
Here are some recipes from Kris Carr.
*Side note: When you buy your bananas, peel them and break them into thirds right away and place them in a container or baggie and place in freezer. Trust me, you WANT something frozen in these smoothies, otherwise the consistency is blah!
Peaches and Green
1 large banana, frozen
1 cup peaches, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp flax seeds, ground (I use a coffee grinder)
1 ½ cups nondairy milk of your choice (I use unsweetened almond milk, but hemp, cashew, or coconut will work)
1 cup swiss chard, tightly packed
1 banana, frozen
1 ½ cups non dairy milk of your choice
1 cup of spinach, tightly packed
3 large leaves of romaine lettuce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 large banana, frozen
2 cups almond milk
3 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp all-natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
2 cups of kale
1 pitted Medjool date
1 ½ cups spinach
1 cup frozen cherries
1 banana, frozen
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 ½ cups almond milk
Okay, so that was actually FIVE S’s. There is so much more to healthy living than the anticipated duo of ‘diet’ and ‘exercise.’ Wellness transformation is not a race. It’s ongoing. It’s up and down. It’s unique to you. Incorporate these S’s into your life today and you’ll be on your way to healthy living!
Sounds simple, spectacular and straightforward!