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Health Focus, Straight Ahead!

Hello, and Happy New Year! How’s the first week in 2022 going? Like many of us, you’ve probably set some good, strong intentions, bringing in a sense of renewal!! Yay! If changing your eating or lifestyle habits was part of your intention for the new year, I’d like to offer some healthy living tips, below, to keep you on track for your goals! For those who read my Diet Schmeyit article, this last week has been a time to experiment with drinking more water, reducing packaged foods and bringing gentle movement into your routine. Are you ready to add more? Here are some new ideas to explore as you continue with your healthy living transformation:

1. Sleep! That’s right, adult humans need 7-9 hours of solid sleep per night. During sleep, the body takes care of digesting and processing all the foods you ate during the day. It also resets the brain after functioning in your busy waking life. Staying in this natural circadian rhythm is important for down-regulating and managing daily stressors. Sleep during night hours is best (sunset to sunrise), when naturally dim light triggers the body to rest and consume melatonin.

2. Eat fruits and vegetables! You don’t need to restrict yourself to salads (yay, I hate that part of dieting!). By adding a portion (1 cup) of fruit or vegetables to each meal and slightly reducing the portion of starches and proteins you’re eating (reduce each by 2 oz or a ¼ cup), you are adding in good fiber + nutrients, and eating foods with higher water content and lower caloric load. This is a simple addition, and not a total change to the foods you’re already eating. Remember that if you’re craving sweets, a cup of berries or carrots also makes for a great naturally sweet midday snack!

3. Trade potatoes for whole grains. Quinoa is one of the best grains you can eat, containing all essential amino acids for your body’s daily cellular function. Quinoa is also gluten free, and a small portion (1/2 cup cooked) is filling! Brown or whole grain rice instead of white rice (as well as brown or whole grain pasta instead of semolina) is another small change to make with BIG health benefits!

4. Make time to TURN OFF YOUR BRAIN. This does NOT count towards sleep time! Having time for your brain to relax, just like the muscles of your body after a workout, is extremely important for managing stress. Use 15-30 minutes per day for some self-care, such as a warm bath with oils + salts, a cup of tea before bed, getting a pedicure, taking time for meditation, or however you can practice just ‘being’ for a moment. We often forget that we are human Beings, not human Doings.

**BONUS TIP** Mental breaks throughout the day keep your mind sharp when you need it. A quick 30 second time out (who doesn’t have 30 seconds? No, really, it’s only 30 seconds…) to practice rhythmic breathing, such as a 6 count inhale, with a 6 count exhale, allows the body to fuel your brain with lots of fresh oxygen (if you can go outside for the 30 seconds, even better!), massages your heart muscle, and reinvigorates you! Try this twice during your work day. Your focus will improve, and you’ll feel overall better!

Have a fantastic day ahead! Get out there and live in your intention, be bold, say YES to living a healthier, brighter, happier life! JOY is attainable, and taking these small steps, just one per day, will get you where you want to be!

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