I know. I know. I write about health online. It’s hypocritical. I get it and yet still.
IF I READ ONE MORE PLAN ABOUT CREATING PERFECT HEALTH, I’ll scream.
10,000 steps! 8 glasses of water! Exercise with a smile one your face! Avoid cardio, do yoga! No sugar! Paleo Cavemen will cook for you for a month! Avoid nightshades! Antiinflammatory EVERYTHING! Turmeric! Coconut Oil! You’ll die without it!
Is how I feel.
[tweet_dis]Be your own dam guru. [/tweet_dis]
Here’s the lowdown. There are things that you need to do to stay healthy. I’ll even write a list. BUT. Everything on that list needs to be done by you in a way that works for you. If you’ve read my blog, you might think I’m a broken record by now but I’m going to say it again – there are NO plans that work for everyone.
I know, that makes is more frustrating. You just want what works. You don’t want to have to think about it, pay attention and figure it out.
Ya know what?!? Tough cookies.
So, here’s the lowdown.
- You need enough liquid that isn’t mostly made of sugar.
How much is enough? Read here: The 8 Glasses A Day Conspiracy
To me, the most important liquid is first thing in the morning. We lose a lot of water through the night and your body needs it to kick start your digestion in the morning. Most mornings, I get up and gulp down a pint of water. I don’t always feel like it, but I’ve made it a habit.
- You need to move.
Some people need to do an Iron Man (not really… no one needs to do that), some people are good with just walking. Some people need yoga and some people need group classes. And some people need nature and some people need gyms. Some people need to sweat a lot to maintain weight (my hand is in the air) and some people maintain is easily with pilates. Whatever. Just pick whatever works for you and do something.
- You need to eat REAL food.
Shocker, right? Chances are strong you have to eat more veggies. Sometimes, people are obsessed with variety but if you only like 4 veggies.. Eat those 4 and stop making yourself crazy about it. There are studies all over the world saying olive oil will preserve you until the end of time and red wine is good for your heart and if you eat only veggies, you’ll live longer and healthier.
And then, there is an outlier story for each of those. The 115 year old woman in Italy who survives on pasta, mozzarella and wine. The uncle who smoked and drank a glass of whiskey before bed every night…
In my ideal world, people substitute whole foods for processed foods and slow food for fast. In my ideal world, the desserts available wouldn’t turn your poop green (blue frosting does that… I swear) and everything in a package wouldn’t have SO MUCH DAMN SUGAR.
But if you can start with subbing one real food for your normal packaged stuff, then, hey, we’re off to a good start.
- You need to sleep / rest
This whole hustle movement and the lack of ‘time off’ and the amount of burnout I see in my patients.. Ugh. No matter how good you are to your body, if it has no time to recover from your days, you’ll get sick.
You must learn to rest well. Not a great sleeper? That’s okay, learn to quiet your body and mind during the day to take some of the weight off at night. Resting these days usually involves a screen and no matter how much research is presented that tells us that we aren’t actually resting then… we still do it.
Rest, without a screen. Sleep at more or less regular hours. Know your body’s needs and provide them for yourself.
- You need a community / friends / family
You can choose these people. Contrary to the popular belief, blood isn’t always thicker than water. Sometimes your family of origin is beyond saving and you need to pick and choose the people in your immediate surroundings.
Choose good ones. Choose ones that don’t make you feel like you have to weigh each word or action carefully. Choose ones that you trust will still love you even if they find out who you really are.
And then show them who you really are so that they can prove to you that they are right there with you, to support you and help you. And then do the same for them.
- You need yourself.
Brene Brown describes this best in her latest book “Braving the Wilderness”. Choosing to live in accordance with who you are and practicing your values instead of preaching them is key according to Brown. You need to maintain a level of integrity within yourself so that you trust yourself and therefore can trust others.
When you take the time to live in yourself and through yourself, you allow other people to do the same. This is key to health in my opinion because I have seen so many disease processes happen in people who were living according to templates that were created for them instead of designing their own. It’s like the problem shows up to say… hey… you’re doing it wrong, come back here.
- You need to learn delayed gratification
For reals. Wanna know why? Because when you do and you force yourself to grow through challenges, you actually increase your level of happiness. Immediate gratification leads to a long term LACK of satisfaction and the loss of the ability to search for things that really, truly light you up. This long term lack of satisfaction runs the risk of leading to depression at worst and at best, an overall lack of well being.
It leads to lack of well being by way of allowing you to not take care of your long term health needs in favor of having that doughnut, drinking that 4th coffee, not moving today, etc etc etc. It shuts your body down because you aren’t actively participating in life. You are waiting for things to come to you to make you happy instead of creating situations that please you.
- You need to have a belief system.
I don’t care if it’s an organized religion, simply an interest in spirituality or weekly AA meetings. There should be a set of beliefs that help you AND those beliefs shouldn’t hurt yourself or others. The foundations of love and interconnectedness should be found here.
If you cannot fall back on your belief system when you are hurt, sick or confused, it’s not the right one for you. If your belief system teaches you that you are better than other people and should judge them, it’s not the right one either. Your beliefs should be private to you but inclusive of everyone. But what book, person or tradition they are based on…. Is irrelevant.
- You need to feel a sense of purpose.
I actually hate that sentence because people take it to mean more than it does. This DOES NOT MEAN in any way that you need to ‘live to serve’ or not make any money because you are living according to your purpose. This means that your work should make you feel, at least some times, fulfilled. It means that what you do and how you act on a day to day basis should make some sense to you.
This purpose can be to make your own life better or make your own life and other people’s lives better – I don’t think that is important. The better we all feel, the easier it is for us to coexist happily and healthily.
- You need to laugh and play.
I don’t think I really need to explain this one.. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Remember what it feels like to laugh with abandon and then create moments that allow you to do it. People laugh and play different ways all over the world. What way works best for you?
When do you laugh the most? When do you feel the most lighthearted? Find more of those moments. They help everything from physical to emotional and spiritual health.
- You need to regulate your emotions
We live in a world where drama is sexy. Oh, the drama, the headlines, the likes and hearts. Enough already. Not everything is that big a deal. Lighthearted? Yes. Overreacting to get attention on Instagram? No.
This is a tricky one that usually takes some serious internal work. The end game is the ability to feel all of the emotions across the spectrum but not get stuck for too long in any one of them.
The Dalai Lama often talks about using meditation as a tool to manage emotions. It’s often mentioned in my favorite book “The Book Of Joy”. This book is an interview between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It follows them through a 5 day conversation about joy and I think it should be required reading for learning about life.
- You need enough liquid that isn’t mostly made of sugar.
11 is a fun number to end a list at. I feel like I could go on but all the other ideas I come up with could be wiggled into one of the things mentioned above. It really doesn’t matter what way you decide to care for each of those pieces. There’s no mix of the above ingredients that makes a soup that tastes great to everyone. Mix it up the way YOU like it and make that soup your own.
Or, even better, make a list of the things that YOU think make a health body and life and use those ingredients. Check in with yourself after writing it. Do you follow your own rules? If not, what one action can you take TODAY to start living closer to what you think is a healthy life?
You’ve now been privy to my list. What’s on yours?Can’t wait to hear about it.