In January of 2013, one of my resolutions was to start living a healthier lifestyle. I am nearly 40 years old, and with a great grandfather who died at age 42 from a heart attack, I realized that dying from a major heart attack at a young age is not simpatico with my retirement and general life plans. I started small and made changes, a little at a time. I am so happy with how I feel these days, I wish I would’ve started this years ago! Start living a healthier life today by making some small changes in your life, too. These are my 13 favorite habits:
1. Drink a big glass of water every morning. Doing this clears your digestive system and stimulates your metabolism. Continue drinking water, all day, just keep a water bottle handy and refill as needed. My goal is to drink one 16 oz. bottle of water before my lunch break, one during lunch, and one after. I also drink a big glass of water with my dinner. Come one, slurp it down! Easy, right? If you choose to drink something else, occasionally, i.e., a soda, or a cup of tea/coffee or a glass of beer/wine, then simply drink it along with your water. I do treat myself to non-water drinks every so often, but I never reduce my water intake. I call this “double-fisting”. Be warned, you should research the effects of soda pop and what it does to your body, because I did, and now I choose not to drink the stuff aside from 1-2 times per month. If I can live without it, so can you.
2. Eat a variety of fruits and veggies every day! I eat carrots every day; I love the taste of them, the texture and how they react in my digestive system. I purchase peeled mini carrots in a 2lb bag, this lasts me for about one week depending on how much my children share them with me. I have found that carrots are a great thing to get my metabolism going, high in fiber! I typically eat them with my breakfast, with a snack, and with my lunch. If you don’t like carrots, then find the right fat-free snack that works for you. No, potato chips do not count as a vegetable! Put down the bag and back away slowly! What is your favorite fruit or vegetable? I work in 2-4 other fruits or vegetables in each day, trying to hit all the “colors” of fruits and vegetables each week. Stimulating your metabolism means that you will hold less toxins in your system. If you aren’t having a bowel movement 2-3 times a day, you aren’t “going” enough, at least not in my opinion.
3. Use natural oils. I am in love with almond oil, castor oil and olive oil. I purchase them from the local health food store, or online. I use two drops of almond oil to massage around my eyes to help fight crow’s feet. Massage around eyes for about 2 minutes simultaneously (one finger per eye). Repeat every evening before bed, be sure not to get it IN your eyes as it can be irritating…not, like, run around screaming in a circle type of irritating, just cursing yourself type of irritating. It is seriously better than any eye cream I have ever tried.
For my body, I purchase a very inexpensive paraben-free body lotion with a light scent. I chose one with cocoa butter; I add almond oil to the lotion in my palm (50/50) and coat my legs, butt, arms, feet, stomach, etc. Castor oil is non-comedogenic, so I use it as a moisturizer on my face and neck when my skin is very dry, avoiding the t-zone, as it seems to get oily throughout the day.
For my hair, once a week, on my day off, I use a combination of castor, olive and almond oil to massage my scalp and hair. I coat my entire head of hair in it, then leave it in for about an hour, wash out and enjoy thoroughly healthy, moisturized hair all week! My aunt tells me that I have, “movie star hair”. This is why she is my favorite aunt. Research other oils and their uses and find some that work for you; there is a wealth of natural cures for a variety of ailments out there using natural oils.
4. Dry and wet brush your face and body. Rubbing your cellulite encourages is to go away, be mean to it! Hate that cellulite!! Ever been to a fancy spa? Well, I haven’t, but I have seen this treatment used in spas on TV, so there must be something to it. Purchase yourself boar’s hair body brushes in all sizes. I use a small brush for my face, dry, just 1-2 times per week before I wash up for the night. I use a larger one with a handle that I can slip my hand in for the rest of my body. I rub myself down 1-3 times per week, sometimes I add almond oil, other times I just use it dry. If using the dry method, do it right before your shower, if using almond oil, and then do it right after your shower. I found a brush set on amazon.com for around $12, it will last quite a while, just be sure to wash them with hand soap once a week.
5. Keep your environment as chemical and scent-free as possible. I use to suffer from occasional headaches, sinus infections, nose bleeds, dizzy spells and more. Not anymore! My word, what in the hell do they use to make chemicals smell like oranges? Or vanilla? Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of air fresheners, household cleaners or scented detergents? Do it. Look up those ingredients online using a search engine to learn about them and the effects they can have on your health. Throw the chemical name in with words to refine your results, for example, “unhealthy formaldehyde toxin”. And then, read on. Anything that claims to be scented, is made with a chemical scent, it is something which was created in a lab to fool your brain into thinking you that are smelling something pretty. Many scented products contain petroleum, yes, the same thing you put in your car. What’s that you’re wearing? O’ de Gasoline? Lovely! I clean with only natural, low-scent cleaners which can be found at just about any retail store, I use scent free detergent/softener, I do not burn heavily scented candles, and I do not use air fresheners of any kind. Many of the toxins/ingredients used in products which are labeled “safe” have been found to be major causes for lung and other various forms of cancer. I quit using antiperspirant after discovering that it was causing my breasts and lymph nodes to swell. I now use an all-natural deodorant called Jason’s Tea Tree deodorant. No more swollen lymph nodes! Educate yourself on the matter of chemicals and scents; education by researching online is free, and it can mean the difference between being sick or feeling great.
6. Exercise throughout the day. You need to exercise every day, throughout the day. I walk often, I don’t enjoy sitting and doing nothing all day. During warmer months, I go on bike rides with my family. I have found some excellent moderate exercises to tone my legs and stomach which only takes about 15 minutes once or twice a day. If you want to feel better, look better, and live longer, then exercise! Do your own research; find what exercise works for you, and then do it regularly.
7. Do not treat food as anything other than fuel. From day to day, my diet varies between meals and snacks which are healthy, to some which are less than healthy. I sort of love chili dogs, okay? Don’t judge me. I try to look at food as fuel, something which my body needs to get me through the day, feeling good. I am allergic to dairy, so I avoid that like the plague. I try to avoid sugars and breads, I try to eat high protein, low fat meats, I eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible, I eat nuts and a variety of semi-healthy carbs like potatoes and noodles. I also eat things like birthday cake or ice cream every so often, I do treat myself. But, I am a firm believer that one should not LOVE food, do not spend your life cooking desserts or yearning for that ultimate yummy, high fat meal. If you enjoy cooking or baking, then simply buy yourself cookbooks that focus on low fat, low sugar, healthy meals.
8. Drink green tea every morning. Green tea contains healthy antioxidants. It helps your body fight cancer and heart disease. Some like a morning coffee, others like black tea or herbals, but for me, green tea is the bomb! Oh, and find one that you like, as not all green teas taste the same. I like mine with mint and a bit of honey.
9. Be happy with you. One of my biggest assets is my ability to be happy. If I see something in my mirror which makes me unhappy, I change it to the best of my ability. Don’t like your hair? Get a new hairdo! Don’t like looking bland? Then buy and apply makeup. Over your happy weight? Lose it! It’s been proven for years that feeling good about yourself and being happy with your life will help you lead a longer, happier life. We all have stress, but do not allow it to consume you. We all make a choice every day to be happy, angry, upset or sad. I was once told that hatred is the poison pill you swallow, hoping the other person will die. If you don’t like someone, avoid them, but do not spend your time fighting with them, finding ways to hurt them, etc., it simply is not healthy for you. Make the best of your life TODAY. Do not wait to be happy tomorrow, or when you have more money or a “better life”. Living in the past and worrying about the future does nothing for you, neither one is infinite. Live and enjoy the moment, right now, because the only thing infinite is the present time. Think about it, it totally makes sense!
10. Give to others. I give and do as much for others as I possibly can. I chose my line of work; I am a paraeducator, because I have an innate need to improve the world. I love my children and give them every opportunity to grow and learn as much as humanly possible. When I am not working, “wifing” or mothering, I also volunteer in other ways; Try out and participate in your local live theater, run for a public position like school board or city council, take a shift in your church nursery. Get off your fanny! When opportunities come up such as a tree planting day at the park, bring your family to help out, you get the idea. If you’re able to give financially, find a good cause and donate what you can. Never stop giving.
11. Nurture a good relationship with your physician. I searched high and low and finally found an excellent physician. It did take me a few years, but I am sure happy that I went through the work to do it! I see my doctor anytime something goes haywire and once a year for a full physical and blood panel, regardless of how I feel. Do not ever put off going to your clinic if something isn’t right, because sometimes when you procrastinate, you pay for it with your health. When you see your doctor, talk about what’s going on with your body, even if it’s something that’s only a bit strange. Keep a running list in your purse or wallet. Your doctor is there to help you, that is their job!
12. Learn every day. I spend much of my spare time researching, reading, or listening to books (great for commuting!) and I also spend time asking questions. The world is full of interesting stuff, great imaginations and theories as well as a rich, diverse history. Everyone has interests, I have several…thousand…so on any given day I may be reading a book about life in ancient Egypt, or meditation, or the healthy eating, or maybe how to re-roof a house. I believe that learning keeps our minds agile, and is essential for a happy life.
13. Laugh more. Did you know there are actually laughing clubs? They get together, simply, to laugh. I live in a rural area, no laughing clubs here, so I mostly laugh at my own antics and that of my friends and family. I love to laugh, though, and I try to laugh throughout my day. Even if I have to go hunting humor down on a social networking site, that works, too. Anything for a smile, laugh or chuckle. Laughter is the best medicine!
I hope this advice finds you well, please try all 13 things from my list, or your own variations of them. Please share the advice with your friends and family. Every person can benefit from making these small changes.