Sleep like your life depends on it. (It kind of does!) There is no getting around this one. Quality sleep is essential! Chronically sleep-impaired people cannot live vital, vibrant, energetic lives. Ideally, go to bed at an early enough time that you awaken in the morning at least 90% of the time in advance of when an alarm would otherwise go off. Go to bed when your unique body feels sleepy. And that may be 8:30 pm. Respect your Circadian Rhythm with a regular sleep schedule. Practice sleep hygiene and prioritize it. Unfortunately, that tv, social media, email, smartphone, or other full-spectrum light exposure and any type of stressful activity (bill-paying, parenting debates, or getting news reports) in the hour prior to bedtime IS affecting your sleep. Let your brain know in that hour that you want to wind down and prepare to sleep deeply.
Seriously! So many of us behave as though there is a large prize at the end of life rewarding us for working as many hours as possible and checking off as many things as we can from our endless WORK “to do” lists. Well, guess what? There’s not! There are just perhaps instead some big life regrets and missed opportunities. What if we had a daily PLAY “to do” list? That one we should treat as more important than the work one? Savor life. It is short! Laugh. Play. Relax. Have fun. Don’t let your rejuvenating activities end up just being an hour or two of mindless TV each night. We were all five years old at one time. Revive what is fun for you now. Allow time for it. Make time for it.
3. Respect your skin
It is one ‘big mouth.” Stop feeding it crap. Seriously,whatever you slather on your skin can go right into the systemic circulation. We really shouldn’t put anything on our skin that we wouldn’t be willing to eat. Chew on that for a moment… Starting over again on choosing your beauty and personal hygiene products with this truth in mind can make a dramatic impact on your health deep inside. Just like our food, the less ingredients on the label, generally the better!
4. Eat real food!
Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body. Do not eat “edible food-like substances.” You wouldn’t buy crap gasoline for your car just because it was cheap and convenient. So why do we try to fuel our magnificent bodies with crap food? At least 90% of the time, choose to eat exclusively foods you enjoy and that your great grandmother could have eaten when she was growing up. Whole, natural unrefined foods, and beverages. Vegetables, Proteins, Fruits, Legumes, Nuts/Seeds… The huge array of chemical flavorings, preservatives, colors, sweeteners, texture agents, hormones, toxins, and cheap ingredients in other food is not fueling your body to heal or be at its best (think energy, mental clarity, pain-free, clear skin, smooth digestion, good sex drive, resilient good mood). This isn’t just pretty language for a headline; it’s biochemical truth.
5. Get fresh air & sunshine daily
Your body can make Vitamin D on it’s own when exposed to sunlight, so try to get some sunlight when you can. And daily outside time, even if it’s cold or rainy. Open the windows when you can. Indoor air can become quite toxic due to outgassing from textiles and chemicals and building materials. This is especially true during the cold months. Being exposed to the cold strengthens your immune system. Even if it’s just a short 4 minute walk around the block or out to the edge of the parking lot and back, it’s so much better than no fresh air at all. While you’re outdoors, leave your phone indoors. Use the opportunity to shift your visual focus to the horizon. See and appreciate nature. Take some deep breaths, cleansing belly breaths. Allow the exhales to be long and slow. Breathe the fresh air! Stand or sit up straight, no phone glued to your hand. Connect with and activate your parasympathetic nervous system mode that allows digestion, relaxation, healing, fertility, and ease. These activities and being outside is healing, will help manage stress and keep you healthier and happier.
6. Eat organic food
When you can find it and if you can afford it, it is worth the investment! Yes, it’s really that bad. Most pesticides are endocrine-disrupting agents and can cause dramatic shifts in hormone balance. And we have an exponentially increasing rate of estrogen- mediated cancers in both men (prostate) and women (breast/uterine). Where possible, maximize nutrition by purchasing local, fresh produce on which no pesticides have been used (not all small farmers can afford formal organic certification). At a bare minimum, make good use of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen shopping priorities revised each year by the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org).
7. Don’t question your excellence
You are a divine child of the universe. Absolutely perfect. Seriously, you are! Try opening up to this truth. Do not live with regret. Don’t listen to others who may put you down. Stop being your loudest critic and your biggest source of stress. Honor who you really are. Honor what really makes you happy. Honor what brings you pleasure and how you really want to spend the days of your life doing. YOU DESERVE THIS! What one small way can you start right now? Choose activities based on what is fun, fulfilling and exciting to you. Release the need to use words like “should,” "must,” and “have-to.” Instead, use the word “CHOOSE.” Honor your truth. Make time for a spiritual practice that allows you to release the expectations from society/family and reconnects you to who you really are. Do what makes you happy! There’s no prize at the end of life for yourself to do things that don’t bring you JOY!
8. Drink water!
Plenty of plain, clean water every day. Make sure you know the real quality of the water coming out of your tap (don’t rely on regional or town source data). If necessary, invest in a water filter, both for drinking water and (yes!) shower water. There are a huge number of dissolved toxins found in regular municipal drinking water that your local regulatory organization is not required to measure or inform you about.
9. Pay attention to the oils. After all, these oils will frequently work their way into our meals. Don’t cook with typical cheap, highly refined, bottled vegetable oils. Choose only pressed (and preferably cold-pressed) vegetable oils. If you eat in restaurants, you will nearly always be consuming these oils (because they are inexpensive), so don’t increase the frequency by using them in your own home. Use things like olive oil, coconut oil or butter.
10. Avoid fluoride
Don’t use fluoride-containing toothpaste or seek fluoride treatments at the dentist. Does it kill bacteria in the mouth? Yes. Does it increase calcium uptake in teeth? Yes. But likely at very high costs. These costs can be low thyroid function, causing your metabolism to be slow (leading to weight issues), calcification of the pineal gland (causing insomnia) and reduced IQ in children. Vitamin K2 and a xylitol toothpaste can help you meet your dental goals.
11. Check labs and do your wellness visits
Your primary care provider may not regularly check them, but wellness marker tests are available from local labs. You can advocate for your right to learn about your body and optimize your health proactively. Check Vitamin D at least twice a year and keep it ideally in the 40-60 ng/ml zone to keep your immune function strong and balanced. Check RBC Magnesium (not serum) and seek for it to be in the upper third of the normal reference range. Check HbA1c and aim for it to be 5.2% or less; our carbohydrate tolerance is unique and depends on our genetics, lifestyle, stress, and nutrition. Check triglycerides and aim for them to be 50-100mg/dl. If you feel like something is WRONG, stick with your gut feeling and find a provider who will listen!
12. Avoid the whites: flour & sugar
Foods made with white flour should be in your 10% diet, not the 90%. We have a true epidemic of insulin resistance and its progression states of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. This disease progression begins with or is exacerbated by the diet nearly every time. We focus so much on minimizing sugars/sweeteners, but refined flours act very much like sugar in the body. Sugar may impair white blood cell function. Refined carbohydrates and simple sugars raise your blood sugar. If you eat more protein and healthy fats, you will be satisfied and not feel like snacking all the time. Eat minimally processed whole foods, low in sugar and flour.
13. Move your BODY daily!
Participate in exercise that you enjoy. It must be sustainable to fit into your lifestyle and be something you continue to do. I would suggest weight training or body weight exercises like planks or push ups. Muscle is key to our health,strength and longevity. Exercise will help you reach your health goals, improve your mood and joint pain. Exercise is one of the best ways to decrease inflammation, maintain mitochondrial health and preserve insulin sensitivity. These are three components that can prevent cancer, heart disease and many other health issues.
14. Be the beautiful & unique YOU!
Make your life mean something that inspires you to the core, makes you happy and lights your fire. Find a cause or a contribution that highlights your unique talents, history, and/or skills. One that is powerful toyou, not necessarily anyone else nearby. If you don’t know where to start, consider beginning a gratitude journaling practice. It’s easy to do. And easy to start! Spend 5-10 minutes every morning (or right before bed) writing down 3 very specific things you are grateful for in that moment. Not general, easy-to-overlook things like “family” or “my job” but a detailed description of a particular person or place or event or event that you are grateful for. Make it come alive in your writing it down. Letting that feeling of appreciation wash over you has very real, biochemical healing power, in part by activating your parasympathetic nervous system.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! I believe in YOU ! I know you can do whatever you set your mind to.