New Year’s is always great inspiration to kick off healthy living. Other times through the year encourage the same motivation to reassess and rally around better health, weight loss, lessening stress, etc. I notice in my group exercise class numbers bump up right before Spring Break or anytime women realize they are about to show skin and come out of winter clothing hibernation otherwise known as layers upon layers.
Finding ourselves in the middle of summer well let’s just say a lot goes off the rails. Cookies for breakfast? Sure why not. Finish my kid’s PB&J at the pool? That seems sensible.
A lot of rules fly out the window during summer, however I seem to be receiving more weight loss challenges in warm weather for freaked out moms who are panicking that skin is suddenly in. However I for one am sick of the constant barrage of “lose 10 pounds in 3 days” liquid diet promises or “how to fit in your skinny jeans in 2 weeks” calls to action.
Want to know how to fit into your jeans?
Throw out the ones that restrict your bloodflow and buy a pair that actually feels good. Or give up jeans and pledge allegiance to yoga pants or cargo capris or hippy skirts. Cut out the darn tag if the pair that feels best freaks you out when you see the size.
If women could bottle up all of the energy we spend thinking about “when I drop 5 pounds” or “if I fit in those jeans again” or “one day” wishful thinking we really would rule the world. Or at least positively affect our corner of it by looking outward to make change instead of looking inward to heap on more shame.
So if you are wanting to make changes without a massive challenge or deadline looming (no high school reunions on the calendar for example) look at the list below and select a few things that you can incorporate now. Then choose a few more over the next few months and by year’s end you’ll be way ahead of where you were half a year ago.
- Cut out dyes – read ingredient labels from food to toothpaste. And “natural” isn’t a term that a manufacturer has to prove so don’t go off of that. Really look at labels – if there are words you can’t pronounce watch out. And look for 5 or less ingredients in any product or food because the closer to original source the better.
- Dirty Dozen – these fruits and vegetables make the list for dirtiest produce which are grown with the most pesticides. Each year the list changes a bit, for example strawberries bumped apples out of the top spot this year. If you aren’t mentally or financially ready to go all organic this is a great start to make a dent in the side effects of chemicals, especially in newborns and young children.
- Water Challenge – lots of symptoms show we are low on water besides our urine not being the color of diluted lemonade. Take half of your body weight and divide by 8. That’s how many 8 ounce glasses of water you should be drinking in one day. No joke. Start with a big glass upon rising as you’ve been dehydrated overnight. Even fill up a huge jug or several glass water bottles the night before and measure out. Yes you’ll be running to the bathroom often at first but then your body will adjust and you’ll crave hydration. And yes for every caffeinated drink you consume add another glass of water. And no, wine doesn’t count as hydration. Look at the source of water too and consider a whole house water filter to remove chlorine and toxins – at the very least there are plenty of water filter pitchers around too.
- Cut out sodas. This should be well known at this point from increased weight gain to higher incidences to osteoporosis and other so not healthy side effects.
- Sleep Challenge – try for 10 days to increase your nightly sleep. And you do this by adding hours of sleep on the front end, not sleeping in. Most adults should be getting roughly seven hours of sleep at night. Are you consistent with that? I won’t even introduce the fact that bio-rhythm science calls for us to go to bed and rise approximately at the same time each day. Yes, even weekends.
- Move – Alzheimer’s studies show that those in motion add health to their brains in addition to what we already know as people in an active lifestyle add years to their lives. From a quantity of life outlook there’s also a quality of life benefit in lessening stress, lower pelvis and hip fractures through the senior years, better sleep, improved attitude and so many more reasons to make getting a sweat on a daily priority. Start to think of working out as just as much a habit of your day as eating breakfast or taking a shower.
- Non GMO – there’s more information out there than you can process in a day declaring genetically modifed organisms as the gateway to so many health problems faced in America. Genetically engineered food isn’t something that is openly marketed either – you have to look for the “non GMO” label and probably pay a little extra for it as well.
- Take a break from inflammatory foods – inflammation is claimed to be the cause of all illness and a few foods repeatedly come up as inflammation starters in many health circles: sugar, dairy and gluten. Sugar is known for feeding the “bad bugs” in the gut and keeping up the perpetual cycle of craving sugary snacks while lowering the immune system. Dairy otherwise knows as casein is a large cause of inflammation for many, but due to the milk industry and lobbyists for Bessie it’s not a popular topic. Gluten is wheat primarily and is harvested differently than when your grandma ate it as GMO is a big issue but also it is a binding agent so can be full of other fillers. The amount of gluten found in non-bread products is shocking if you start reading labels from salad dressing to nuggets to soy sauce and even ice cream.
- Add in good bacteria – believe it or not we are made up of bacteria and not all of it is bad. In fact you want to keep a healthy gut flora ratio in the intestinal tract to protect you from allergies to illnesses. A concern of babies birthed via C-section is that they miss the final “bacteria dump” a mom passes along to a newborn when exiting the birth canal. However if given antibiotics at delivery, a mom’s good gut flora is put at risk for natural births too. So find a solid probiotic with a higher number of bacteria strains. Or replace it naturally through fermented foods like live sauerkraut or kimchi or make your own Kefir water if you want a new hobby.
- Clean up your biggest organ – your epidermis (or skin) takes chemicals put on the skin into the bloodstream in just 26 seconds. Knowing that makes me very aware of what lotions, body washes, SPF’s and even hand sanitizer I choose for my children or myself. Reading labels, being able to pronounce ingredients, the same ol’ song and dance.
So this is a small peek into changing up lifestyles for healthy living. There are a whole bunch of other suggestions for aiding our overall well being from cutting out toxic people in our lives to adding in quiet meditation time to alleviate stress. But for now look at one or even two you could tackle now so in a few months this new habit is a way of life. Your future self will thank you.