Confession: I am a research junky and especially for all things fitness and health. Here are some of the things I have learned along the way and incorporated into my lifestyle to stay fit and healthy. My approach is very much DIY and natural. When I started running into health problems in my early 20’s (thyroid, digestion, mood swings, chronic fatigue, hair loss, etc.) I just didn’t find much help or relief from mainstream health care. I had to figure a lot out on my own, and make lifestyle changes- or spend the rest of my life feeling awful.
God designed a marvel when he crafted the human being.
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
With proper diet and lifestyle the body will heal itself and good health will result. Here are my top 11 tips to help get you there:
1. Cut out sugar. Yes, I know, many of us balk at this. Sugar is addictive. Perhaps as much as any street drug. There are studies where poor lab mice where exposed to sugar water and cocaine. The mice chose the sugar over the cocaine. Want to be shocked? In the year 1700 the average person consumed only 4 pounds of sugar a year. In 2009, 50% of Americans consumed 1/2 a pound a day! That’s 180 pounds per year. EW!!! Throughout human history sugar was a rare commodity item. Obviously, that is not the case anymore. Cut out sweets, pop, dessert, ‘health’ food like sweetened yogurt, ultra-sweetened tea and coffee and your body will thank you. That is, after you get past the withdrawls. I do have a wicked sweet tooth so I allow myself some dark chocolate everyday, fruit, and sometimes some natural honey in tea. You’ll see a near immediate improvement in your skin, more stable mood, and clearer thinking. Also, the less sugar you eat, the less you crave it. It gets easier with time until things like cake don’t even look appetizing.
2. Cut back on carbs. Try to think of your metabolism as an engine. Carbs are fuel. If you take in more than you need it gets stored as fat. If you have an active lifestyle you can eat more. If you are sedentary and eat a lot of pasta and bread it will get converted to weight gain. Our bodies are nifty like that. Chose good carbs. A banana before a workout. A baked sweet potato with dinner. Not a huge bowl of lucky charms for breakfast. Really limit grains- wheat, corn, etc. Many of us can’t properly digest them anyways. Most of what you buy in the store is GMO and has higher levels of pro-inflammatory lectins and phytic acid. If you need to lose weight, cut way back on carbs. Your body is then forced to tap into all those nifty resources stored on your tummy or backside.
3. Eat saturated fat. Lots of saturated fat. It’s delicious, filling, and….healthy? Yes! ‘Shockingly’ the government and ‘experts’ aren’t telling you the truth. I’ll give you a moment to process your shock…. There are many studies out there disproving that saturated fat clogs arteries or leads to heart disease. Check out nourishing tradition or the Weston Price foundation. I eat lots of butter, coconut oil, half&half, and only drink whole milk. Throw out your vegetable/canola oil, it is complete junk.
4. Eat protein with every meal. When possible, chose grass fed meats and free range eggs. Nuts are great too.
5. Eat your veggies. Everyone know that right? Try new ones. Put them in soups. Find different ways to cook them. Throw greens in a smoothie. There are lots of way to get in more veggies. Check out #3- most veggies taste great steamed and covered in butter and sea salt.
6. Lower your thermostat. Exposing your body to cold temperatures actually activates your lazy white fat to convert to highly active/calorie torching/insulin level improving brown fat. Babies are born with a lot of brown fat. But in our comfortably temperature controlled modern living we lose most of it. We keep our thermostat at 65 degrees during the day and 64 at night. You do get used to it and then anything warmer feels uncomfortably warm. Make your body fat work for you!
7. Switch over to natural body care/home products. Conventional products contain petrol chemicals and absorb right through our skin and mess with our hormones. I love desert essence shampoo, conditioner and lotion. The crystal stick deodorant takes care of the gnarliest b.o.! Throw out air fresheners (toxic junk) and scent your home with essential oils. I threw out most of our cleaners and now use my super simple & cheap cleaner of distilled water, vinegar, and lemon oil to clean just about anything.
8. Stop running and lift weights. Long, steady-state cardio actually decreases your metabolism and contributes to inflammation. Weight training increases your metabolic rate, burns tons of calories, improves body composition, improves insulin sensitivity, boosts mood, prevents osteoporosis, fights gravity (important after having kids!) and obviously makes you stronger. All you need is a set of dumbbells or even just your own body weight. I love workout DVDs by Cathe Friedrich or Jari Love for motivation and tips for good form.
9. Limit screen time. U.S. adults are spending an average of 11 hours and 52 minutes every day with some form of media. Shut off the t.v. (or better yet, cancel your cable) and go live. This is your life and it is slipping away day by day. I’m all for a good movie or interesting documentary… but don’t use media as escapism from reality. Conquer goals. Clean your house. Exercise. Volunteer. Wrestle with your kids. Crank up the music and dance like no one is watching. (and uh…shut your blinds so no one is!!!) You’ll be happier and less jaded.
10. Supplements instead of medicine. Or better yet- supplements as medicine. If you have minor medical problem, spend some time googling natural cures before running to the Doctor for an RX. I take turmeric, cod liver oil, chlorella, and probiotics every day.
11. Live life connected to God. Just from a physical health standpoint- the benefits are innumerable. Replace worry with prayer. Be thankful instead of gripe-full. Practice forgiveness instead of grudge-holding. Replace negative thought patterns with scriptural truth. God said that His mercies are fresh each morning (Lamentations 3:23). Each day is a fresh start with Jesus! There is a very real mind/body connection. If things aren’t right in your soul it is only a matter of time before your physical health suffers.
That is it folks. Here is to a healthier you in the coming year!