Creating a heather lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated but it does require commitment. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, and 6 months for that habit to become ingrained in your routine. Since life can get in the way, I recommend small changes one step at a time. The list below represents five simple health tips that you can incorporate into your life and make a huge impact on your health, energy, and vitality. Choose one item at a time and do it for at least 3 weeks before adding another component to your lifestyle. When you are doing it without having to constantly remind yourself, then you are ready to move on to the next item.
1) Drink half your “ideal” weight in ounces of water per day. If your ideal weight (not your actual weight) is 120 pounds, you should drink 60 ounces of water per day. Even mild dehydration will cause a 3% drop in your baseline metabolism. That means you will gain 1 pound of fat every 6 months! Drinking water minimizes bloating and water retention in women. These symptoms are often a result of lack of hydration. Drinking plenty of water is how you flush the fat and toxins stored in your fat cells, and also how you can prevent muscle cramps. When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer. When exercising, you should try to drink 3-5 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Downing your 8-10 glasses of water all in one sitting doesn’t cut it. For maximum effectiveness, staying “evenly” hydrated throughout the day is how our bodies metabolize fat. Also, proper hydration keeps our kidneys and bowel function healthy. Getting the proper hydration also gives you more youthful looking skin. Symptoms associated with mild dehydration are weakness, muscle cramps, headaches, irritability, fatigue, trouble concentrating, heart palpitations, and anxiety.
2) Get your Vitamin D levels tested. Over 80% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. This is especially prevalent during the winter months. Research shows that proper levels of vitamin D can boost your immune system and decrease your risk for cancer. You can buy Vitamin D3 in a supplement form or you can spend some time in the sun, although your body can only generate vitamin D from UVB rays and during certain times of the day. There is an app for smartphones called Dminder. This app will let you know what time of day, based on your geographic location, the sun is at the proper angle and generating UVB rays so your body can create Vitamin D. In some geographic areas there will be times of the year that you cannot generate vitamin D from sun exposure and will need to get it in the form of supplementation or special tanning beds. This app takes all of the scientific data into account plus your personal profile which includes skin pigmentation, weight, and age. When you are ready to begin your sun exposure, input the type of clothing you are wearing and start the timer. When you’ve maximized your Vitamin D production for the day, an alarm will sound to end your session. For those of you who don’t enjoy the outdoors or live in a location where you can’t generate Vitamin D, there are plenty of Vitamin D supplements. Look for Vitamin D in the form of D3. The daily recommended amount is controversial, but generally, 1000-5000mg is recommended. For more info on this topic visit mercola.com
3) Get to bed before 10pm. Since I know this is going to be challenging, start with going to bed just a little earlier each night and work your way to 10pm over a three week period. The latest sleep studies indicate that the deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. If your body is chronically deprived of “regenerative sleep” between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m., then you may still feel tired and have difficulty getting up in the morning. At 10 p.m., your body goes through a series of transformations following the rise in melatonin production. Melatonin not only helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle but is also responsible for the repair and restoration of your body. A reduction of your mental and physical activity is necessary for this 10 p.m. shift to occur. Watching television, reading from an electronic device, or bright LED clocks all impact melatonin production and the subsequent chain reaction that leads your body into deep sleep. This is one good reason to buy paperback books and a book light! You can also listen to relaxing music. Getting a good night’s sleep can create longevity and health. Deep rest during the night helps you fight stress, maintain a healthy weight, and keeps your energy levels high. A simple health tip for those wanting to lose weight: get a minimum of 5 hours of sleep per night.
4) Eat more fruits and vegetables. When we eat a diet high in whole foods, we feed our bodies thousands of micronutrients which stabilize our blood sugar and cholesterol, decrease weight, boost the immune system, reverse heart disease and prevent cancer. An apple a day may keep the doctor away but a mushroom a day will help keep cancer away! The micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables are very powerful antioxidants. Micronutrients create many cell protecting compounds. Many of these compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, and phytoestrogens have significant health benefits and are an essential component to optimal health. Micronutrients high in carotenoids are found in carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, broccoli and spinach. Vegetables that are deep red, purple or black provide rich sources of polyphenols. Flavanoids are found in nuts, seeds, grains, green tea, red wine, kale, and lemons. Phytoestrogens are found in soybeans and flaxseeds. If you do not have access to a fresh variety of produce, then supplement your diet with a good whole food concentrate formula. It’s important to incorporate both raw and cooked vegetables into your diet. A simple health tip is that roasting vegetables is easy, quick, and delicious! Cut your vegetables into bite size pieces, drizzle them in olive oil, add salt, pepper and a little cayenne. Roast at 420 degrees for about 20 minutes. To change it up, add raw nuts or dried cranberries in the last five minutes of cooking. You can squeeze fresh lemon juice or shake some parmesan cheese over the top for added flavor.
5) Exercise for 20 minutes a day. It is not necessary to kill yourself at the gym for hours at time. You can get tremendous benefit from just 20 minutes of activity per day, and even walking the dog counts! If you can think of exercise as a play-date, then it can be something to look forward to rather than something to get done! Find something you enjoy doing, and do it. It could be tennis, swimming, hiking, jogging, weightlifting, Zumba aerobics, dancing, pole-dancing, kickboxing, boxing, cardio barre, Nia, yoga, biking, jump rope, hula hooping, climbing stairs, or even just shooting baskets. Think about something you used to love doing and then do it again! If you can commit to anything physical for 20 minutes a day you can make a big impact on your health and really boost your metabolism! Running on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day at 4 mph will take 26 days for you to lose 1 pound of fat. That’s a total of 14 pounds of fat in one year from this simple health tip. That’s a lot of pant sizes! There are so many fun ways to lose weight and get in shape while improving your heart health, reducing stress, increasing endorphins and building muscle.
None of these simple health tips are rocket science. In fact I bet you knew most of this stuff already, you just don’t do them. I spent years looking for complicated diets and supplements to get myself into optimal shape. The best medicine I had, I already knew – I just didn’t do it. Make your New Years Resolution a lifestyle change to incorporate healthy habits three weeks at a time!