Like you, I am on a constant journey to find the foods, thoughts and emotions that allow me to thrive. As I return from my trip to Laos and Cambodia I realize there are certain principles I always follow.
We all want to wake up full of energy, pain-free and excited about our day, right? It’s easier to feel that way when we follow a few simple guidelines that support good digestion, balanced hormones and stable blood sugar.
There are 4 key elements I consider to be the foundation for health and happiness. These are good for everyone no matter who you are, where you are or what your health concerns. They promote the natural vitality and joy you deserve.
4 Key Elements for Health and Happiness:
Eat Real Food
1. Eat Real Food
What you eat has a huge impact on your body and emotions. The ideal human diet is one that emphasizes real, nutrient-filled, whole foods. There are many approaches to eating but what’s important is that you find what works best for you. I try and make eating as simple as possible with recipes that are easy to make. There are a few things you can do to supercharge your diet.
Eat whole natural foods.
Whole food from the earth cools inflammation, supports good digestion and balances your hormones which automatically helps your body release fat it doesn’t need. Eating whole foods greatly improvs all aspects of your health. Read the ingredients of everything you buy. If it’s doesn’t come from the earth, don’t eat it.
Reduce or eliminate processed foods, flour, sugar, and industrial seed oils.
They lack the nutrients we need for our body to perform well and they’re also full of compounds that can provoke inflammation and cause oxidative damage.
Eat nutrient dense food.
Every process that happens in your body—from your eyes reading this sentence, your lungs breathing, your brain planning your day —depends upon micronutrients. When you don’t get enough of them your body can’t function as it should and disease can occur. When you eat nutrient dense food you feel energetic, happy and sharp minded.
Action Step: Emphasize nutrient-dense, whole foods like vegetables and fruits, clean animal proteins, fish and shellfish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and herbs and spices.
2. Fun Movement
It’s important to move your body throughout the day. There is a part of each cell called the mitochondria. They affect the quality and quantity of your energy. These tiny powerhouses are responsible for turning our food into fuel. Exercise gets the mitochondria fired up.
Find an activity you enjoy, dancing, swimming, bike riding, kayaking, walking,
whatever inspires you.
There are enormous benefits to exercise:
- Increases your energy
- Improves your concentration
- Gives you more confidence
- Strengthens your immune system
- Elevates your mood
- Helps you get a better nights sleep
Unfortunately, many people sit at a desk all day long. Studies show sitting all day without getting up regularly increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease and premature death. Sitting all day has also been shown to increase anxiety.
Interval training is a very effective way to exercise. It can be done in 12 minutes a day. Click here to find out how to do it.
Rebounding is one of the best exercises you can do to stay healthy and age gracefully. I like it because it affects every cell of your body, it is fun and you can do it at home. The 3 main components of rebounding (acceleration, deceleration, gravity) cannot be duplicated in any other exercise. Click here for my article and video.
The Sun Salutation is very good for reducing stress and refreshing your body. Find out more about it here.
Action Step: Find opportunities to move whenever you can. Sit less, stand and walk more often. Take a movement break every 30-45 minutes to help ward off its negative health effects.
Sleep is the foundation of your health. A good night’s sleep is one of the most important principles for a happy, healthy life. It is a gift you can give yourself. Studies show most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function properly. You can be eating the perfect diet and exercising regularly but if you’re missing sleep it’s impossible to stay healthy.
Sleep affects every cell and organ system in your body. Getting adequate sleep prevents you from getting sick, gaining unnecessary weight, premature aging and helps you have more focus and energy to manage stress. Not getting enough sleep is associated with everything from obesity to diabetes to autoimmune disease to Alzheimer’s.
Lack of sleep increases your appetite. It causes you to crave sugar because your body is looking for energy. It increases your chances of developing diabetes and heart problems.
Sleep is the safest and cheapest restorative therapy you can find.
But sometimes in today’s hectic world restorative, blissful sleep is hard to come by.
Here are a few tips to improve your sleep: Read the full article here.
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Get natural sun exposure during the day to increase your melatonin
- Go away from the TV, computer or electronic devices 30 minutes before bed
- Remove your phone and other electronics from your bedroom
- Sleep in a cool room
- Darken your bedroom, TOTAL DARKNESS
- Comfortable mattress and pillow
- Relaxing bath with Epsom salts and lavender
- Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana). Click here for directions.
- Legs up the wall pose for 5-10 minutes
Action Step: I’ve found these strategies improve sleep and I encourage you to give the ones you like a try.
4. Stress Management
Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your body, upsetting your hormones, causing digestive issues, insulin resistance, and obesity. It suppresses the immune system and inhibits mental focus. It prevents you from feeling your natural joy and happiness. If you have everything else right but miss this one you’re likely to have health, energy and focus problems.
The good news is there are many easy tools to help soothe your stress.
Stress management doesn’t have to be hard.
Taking time each day to do a few simple processes will shift your energy and your chemistry. Yes, your chemistry. When you shift your energy from stress to relaxation and appreciation your digestion improves, blood sugar comes back into balance, your adrenals are restored and you get healthier.
Here are a few processes to manage stress. They will give you immediate and noticeable benefits.
Focus on your breath.
Every emotional state you experience has a corresponding pattern of breathing associated with it. If you change your breath you can change your emotional state.
That means you can de-stress by focusing your breath and changing your breathing pattern. By learning how to consciously shape your breath you can easily manage stress and tension, boost your immune system, feel more energy and vitality, find clarity and be more focused. Read my article 15 Things You Should Know About Your Breath
Meditation is one of the most valuable tools to combat chronic stress.
You may have tried meditation in the past and felt like it didn’t work for you or you weren’t any good at it. You sit down to meditate and your mind is wandering. That’s normal. As long as you come back to your breath, mantra or mindfulness practice you’re meditating. All you need is one minute to feel the benefits. For more information read How To Properly Meditate
Meditation makes you healthier, smarter, happier and more connected to your
brilliance and creativity.
Tapping also called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is one of the most powerful tools to reduce stress.
Scientific research has shown a few minutes of Tapping can easily shift you from feeling overwhelmed with stress to feeling calm and at peace. Healing occurs through stimulating the body’s meridians and energy flow, similar to acupuncture but without the needles.
Tapping calms the part of your brain called the amygdala and reduces cortisol levels, leaving you feeling calmer. It also helps with weight loss and reduces pain. To find out more about tapping, why I love it so much, and tapping videos click on Tapping For Weight Loss
Action Step: Take time throughout the day to focus on your breath for 1 minute and breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth.