It’s February…how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Are you still on track, or did all the wheels fall off right around the Superbowl? Let’s face it, we all need some “tough love” when it comes to our health commitments. There is no magic bullet, the easy way out is the wrong way, and quick fixes never stand the test of time. We all know this to be true yet, astoundingly, we have been led to believe the exact opposite when it comes to our health and well-being.
Often, medicine has become our magic elixir, our get-out-of-jail-free card. Some question the point of exercising their bones and joints when they can pop a pill instead. They might risk abdominal cramping and bone death, but at least they don’t have to get off the couch! Hair loss, obesity, short temper, shyness, itchy skin, dry eyes… You can bet that whatever the ailment, no matter how trivial, there is a pill marketed for it.
What’s Drugs Got to Do with It?
The reason integrative medicine continues to thrive, even at times in the face of fierce opposition, is because it is built on solid, lasting, time-tested principles. The health of your body is in direct proportion to the strength of your body’s innate healing systems.
Taking migraine medicine for a headache requires that your body not only fight the cause of the migraine, but then also the dangerous chemicals you are dumping into it. We have essentially been trained to put out a fire by dousing it with gasoline. We have been led to believe that the work that the body has been accomplishing over thousands of years with amazing efficiency is suddenly no longer possible in the absence of drugs.
As much as we tend to overcomplicate it, staying healthy is simple. Getting well requires that we optimize the function of all our systems, so the body maintains its integrity and does what it was created to do. The reason that so many of us struggle with our health is because as simple as the concept is, following through requires a high level of commitment and necessitates specific action steps daily.
Everyone knows the formula for losing weight is to cut out the empty calories, watch your portions, and exercise daily, but few people can commit to following through. It’s easier to look for the pill that requires no work or the exercise video that promises miracles after 2 weeks, or to simply give in to temptation.
Your body is a masterpiece, and it requires consistent attention and respect. For those ready to make the commitment to getting well—not just feeling better through artificial means, but truly getting well—welcome to our tribe!
Easy Health Commitments with Big Payoffs
We’re not leaving you high and dry. Here are some tips to help you improve your health every day. They are tiny commitments that add up and are easy to stick to.
First, Let Food Be Thy Medicine
Eat more non-starchy vegetables – Eating more healthfully usually includes more fresh veggies, but don’t make the mistake of gravitating towards the calorie-packed, easy-to-overeat variety like potatoes, beans and corn. Tortilla chips are not a vegetable! Make sure half your plate includes fiber- and nutrient-dense veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens. They also contain a lot of water and help keep you hydrated. Try new veggies instead of eating the same ones all the time. For example, if you like spicy foods like wasabi, radishes have a zesty zing you may enjoy! This simple adjustment can help you lose weight without counting calories. Easy peasy!
Eat whole fruits – Fruits eaten in their whole form (including the peel if edible), provide water, fiber, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants help your body quell inflammation, which contributes to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health issues. So, you can see why fruit is a delicious choice for better health! Berries, apples, kiwis, peaches and citrus are just a few low-sugar fruits you can start adding to your cart.
If you can’t fit in all the fruits and vegetables you’d like, consider taking some of them via supplementation, though this won’t have the satiating effects of eating them! JuicePlus+ is a great addition to busy lifestyles!
Avoid sweetened drinks and artificial sugar substitutes – You can consume a lot of sugar fast when it’s in liquid form. We’re talking about those large coffee drinks, juices, sodas, iced teas, energy drinks, sports drinks and even some flavored waters. For example, a 12-oz can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar…that’s 10 teaspoons! And if you think “diet” versions are better, research has shown that artificial sweeteners make you more likely to overeat and are not necessarily healthier for your heart. Plus, they are chemicals, which should be avoided in a healthy lifestyle. Luckily, there are many natural sugar substitutes like xylitol, erythritol (test sugar alcohols out slowly, as sometimes they cause gastrointestinal issues), monk fruit and stevia.
Sweat, But Don’t Stress
Find exercise you like – Everyone knows “sitting is the new smoking” and that living a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health. If you hate working out at a gym, find some activity that you enjoy and start doing it regularly! You don’t even need to work out for an hour at a time to reap the benefits of movement. Taking a walking break during the day, taking the stairs, busting out a few squats while you’re watching TV, using a stand-up desk or just parking farther away from the store all add up. Your future body will thank you!
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason – Let’s face it, how good do you look when you’re suffering from sleep deprivation? Better yet, how well do you think? Research has shown that chronic sleep loss puts you at more risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Sleeping is a beautiful state you get to indulge in every night while your body rests and repairs. If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, begin to investigate your lifestyle to find the culprits. Some solutions to promote sound snoozing are: going to bed at the same time every day (this trains your internal clock), turning off electronics an hour before bed, stop eating at least three hours before bed and setting a cooler temperature in your house at bedtime. If you’ve done some exercise during the day this often helps with sleep later, too.
Find ways to alleviate stress – When you’re stressed, your body can’t digest or sleep well, so this tip complements our previous points. In addition, a body in “fight or flight” mode doesn’t heal well either. The time you carve out to meditate, pray, play with your pets or work at a hobby will deliver returns of more productivity later. Your life is busy—you don’t have time to neglect your need to recharge! If you want more tips, read our article, “Stress Relief and Wise Words.” In addition, salt therapy has a relaxing effect on the nervous system and promotes an overall feeling of wellbeing.
We hope these easy health commitments help you maintain habits to improve your health all year long, regardless of trends, fads and the occasional New Year’s resolution. Good foundational habits will help your body maintain its balance and state of wellbeing naturally, just as it was created to do.