There are so many magazines preaching the way to get healthy and so much information broadcasted on T.V and on the internet about food and different diets and exercise recommendations that it is so easy to get confused or overwhelmed about our health and wellness. It may even just seem easier to forget about it altogether. That is something that I have felt many times on my road to health. I have read so much information and a lot of what I have read contradicts what I had previously believed. For example, when I made the switch to a vegan diet in 2009, I thought that soy milk and replacements were great. Now, I have come across information that suggests eating soy (especially non-organic soy) is not healthy and could actually be harmful. Some say that eating organic is the healthiest thing and some say it’s simply not true and doesn’t make any difference. Some advocate a vegan or vegetarian diet for optimum health and some claim to be perfectly healthy eating animal foods. Whats with all of this contradicting information and what are we supposed to believe?
The following are my tips for health and wellness and what I have learned along the way to finding what works for me and makes me feel my best.
1. Get in touch with the wisdom of your body - What I have discovered that works best for me is when I take a step back from all of the contradicting information and get in touch with what my body is telling me, that is when I feel the healthiest. What do I want? What makes me feel energized? What makes me feel sluggish or sick? When am I hungry? When am I full? It really seems like such a simple thing, but it is something that a lot of us have sadly lost touch with. The reality is that you are what you eat and I think that it is important that we think about that and make the best possible choices for ourselves. Same goes for exercise. Do what makes you feel good. I could never spend time in a gym or on a treadmill. The idea of it to me is just grueling. I personally like to get out in the sunshine and move or do yoga. That’s just what feels best for me. We are all different and what works for some, doesn’t necessarily work for others.
2. Rid yourself of rules and restrictions – When we try and follow food rules or put restrictions on certain foods we only set ourselves up for failure. If you tell yourself there is no way you are going to have cake or cookies ever again, you are bound to spend a great deal of your time imagining those foods that you are not allowing yourself until you finally breakdown and have it again. Labeling foods as either good or bad is never a good thing to do. Why? Because we will always rebel against ourselves, it is just in our nature. If we don’t allow ourselves any treats or ‘bad’ foods we may even find ourselves binge eating. This can lead to disordered eating and is not a pretty thing. Believe me, I have been there. Make a deal with yourself that all foods are allowed, but remember to listen to the wisdom of your body and learn what makes you feel good and healthy and what makes you feel sick and unhealthy. Chances are you will find yourself naturally gravitating toward fruits, vegetables, whole grains and even exercise without even trying.
3. Use common sense! We all know that fast food, junk food and sugar are obviously not the greatest choices if we want to feel healthy and will not give our bodies what they need in terms of nutrition. A lot of the time we could just benefit from using a bit of common sense. Cooking at home is healthier than eating out. Baking your own cookies and cakes is a healthier alternative to a frozen cake or cake mix. An organic apple is probably healthier than an apple sprayed with pesticides and raw fruits and vegetables probably contain more nutrients than when they are cooked. Sometimes it is just as simple as using the brain in your head. Whenever possible make the healthier choice and continuing to do so will lead to healthy habits.
4. Take care of all of you – You are what you eat, but you are also what you think. What we put into our minds is just as important if not more so than what we put into our mouths. What kind of thoughts do you have? Did you know that you can control them? What kind of people are you surrounding yourself with? Take note of your inner peace and happiness and find out what sorts of changes you could make in your everyday life to have more inner peace and happiness. It could be something as simple as watching less T.V and spending more time with family or friends. It could be subscribing to a blog or reading a book that makes you happy and helps keep your mind on positive things.
5. Watch your thoughts – Instead of being led by every thought you have, take a moment to separate yourself from your thoughts and see that you are much more. You don’t have to do everything that your mind tells you. In fact it is good practice not to. Just because you have a thought that you would like to eat cake when you just had supper doesn’t mean you have to. We would all benefit greatly by taking some time watching our thoughts and choosing what we want to think. The following is a quote that I love.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”~Lao-Tze
Thoughts really are powerful!
6. Smile! – You are never fully dressed without a smile. Take some time each day to smile or laugh. You will feel better and make others around you feel better too!
7. Be patient with yourself – Don’t get hard on yourself if you feel like you aren’t making any progress. Remember that to make healthy habits takes time. The average amount of time it takes for any pattern of behavior or thought to become a habit is 28-30 days. Instead of focusing on breaking a bad habit, put your attention on creating the healthy ones. Instead of thinking about not eating that doughnut in the a.m, think instead about what yummy foods you can put into your smoothie or morning oatmeal. Focus on adding the healthy foods and thoughts into your life rather than how you will get the bad foods and thoughts out. Soon you will see that your life has changed for the better.
I think that a lot of the information out there, although helpful and sometimes truthful, may not be the most beneficial. In some cases it may even be harmful to those who are struggling with eating disorders or have extremist personalities. I sometimes wonder if ignorance really is bliss. What I have concluded is that all we can do is live and learn. Life is constantly teaching us and we are given so many opportunities to become our best selves. Find out what works for you and creates not only health and wellness, but also inner peace and happiness in your life. You are the only one who knows what works for you! No book or web search can find that out for you.
Here’s to health and much happiness!