Little Changes, Big Impacts
If there's anything I've noticed about 2019 so far, it's the importance of the Self. I look around at my friends and family and I can really see that people are taking their health and well-being more seriously in a way that I haven't seen before. People are more conscious of the foods they eat, the company they keep, and toxicity in it's many forms. We are truly evolving. But I also recognize that this can be very intimidating to people who want very much to change their lifestyles but don't exactly know where to start. Because honestly, none of us STARTED our health journeys with adaptogens, fasting, and Ayurvedic teachings.
Let's be real: it's hard to quit bad habits. It's easy to decide that you want to be the best version of yourself, but it's not so easy to change everything at once, or even to know what those changes should be. That's why I wanted to write this post: to show people that a leap of health doesn't have to be a big jump, rather a continuous series of small steps on the right path. Instead of telling you all of the things you should and shouldn't do, I'd like to give you a list of easy practices you can add into your everyday life that will yield the most benefit for you. Minimal effort, maximum outcomes. Because we all have to start somewhere. So let's start here!
Drink warm lemon water first thing in the morning. It's like a shower for your insides. This is one thing many of us know about but too often neglect. There are a multitude of benefits drinking this first thing in the morning, but for now I'll just name a few:
Boosts metabolism and energy
Alkalizes the body
Aids in weight loss and prevents weight gain
Purifies the blood
Relieves respiratory system issues
It's hard to believe that one cup of water can do all of that but believe me, it can do that and much more. Feel free to get creative here as well! I like to add cayenne and black pepper in mine during the winter to warm up and wake up from the inside out. But experiment with different herbs and spices that fit your personality and the season (fresh ginger in the winter, fresh mint in the summer, etc).
Drink more warm drinks, eat more warm foods. I feel like everywhere I look, there's ice in everything. Whether it's in water at restaurants, in our juices, or even iced teas and coffees. Drinking cold liquids all the time only stagnates the processes in our bodies, slows circulation, and can even create mucous. Instead try to drink liquids at room temperature or warmer. If you tend to run hot, lean more towards room temperature drinks so that you aren't adding too much heat to your body. If you tend to run cold, drinking hotter liquids will balance out the coolness. As for foods, don't eat your fruits and veggies straight out of the fridge. Leave them out for a bit if you're eating them raw. Even better if they can get a little sun exposure right before you eat them, which adds extra juiciness. Of course some days we're just going to want to have a nice cold beverage or eat a huge serving of ice cream and that's fine! But for an everyday sort of thing, let's warm things up.
Go for more walks. This is especially important for those of us who have a hard time being active. Exercise is important, there's no way around it. So instead of doing absolutely nothing, do a little something. Go for a 20-30 minute walk everyday, or walk for 45 minutes to an hour every other day. I get in my daily walks by walking to places I have to go instead of going by car. A trip to the grocery store, heading to a friends house, morning coffees, and going to work are all great opportunities to get moving. Walking is great for the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems and is a full body workout. It's also a great way to destress and clear your mind. Did I mention it's 100% free?!
Add black pepper to more of your food. If you add any spice to your food, it should probably be black pepper. This spice was once called "black gold," and rightfully so. One of it's most amazing qualities, in my humble opinion, is that it increases the bioavailability of other nutrients, which is basically just a fancy way of saying that it allows your body to absorb nutrients from other foods more efficiently. This is especially true with turmeric, increasing it's potency by about 2000%! I think we can all agree that we want to get the most out of our food as possible. The best way to consume it is freshly ground so get yourself a pepper grinder and sprinkle that s**t on everything #pepperbae.
Add plants or flowers to your room and living spaces. Have you ever walked into a restaurant with tons of plants and succulents and felt a lift in your spirits? Or maybe you've gone to a friends house where there was a beautiful display of flowers and potted ferns and almost instantly relaxed a bit. That, my friends, is the power of plants! Having a bit of greenery in your home has many benefits, such as purifying and oxygenating the air, reducing stress, and boosting creativity. So buy yourself a nice little desk plant and reap the benefits. I also love keeping my flowers, letting them dry, and putting them in a vase or jar by my bed. No, this doesn't give you the same benefits of live plants but it's a simple yet effective way to add a little beauty in your life. Plus they last pretty long so you really get your money's worth.
Eat more whole foods. Instead of having bread or white rice with meals, have quinoa or brown rice. Add a green salad to the end of your meal. Snack on veggies with hummus; or corn chips with fresh guacamole. Add a few pieces of fruit into your daily routine. You don't have to turn your diet upside down to be healthier. Just add a few nutrient dense foods onto your plate.
Drink herbal tea. Supplements are huge right now but some herbs are just as beneficial in a tea form, if not more. I personally love dandelion root tea because its a great detox tea, especially for the liver (I KNOW some of y'all need that, myself included sometimes). Tulsi and echinacea tea are awesome for colds and fevers. Chamomile is great for relaxation and sleep related issues. Peppermint and ginger tea are good for digestion. And most all of these teas are amazing anti-inflammatories, anti-virals, anti-fungals, so on and so forth. Plus you can always get a little fancy and spice these up with things like fresh ginger, lemon, cayenne, mint, etc. So have some organic tea between meals, in the mornings before breakfast, or before bedtime. Or all of the above!
Switch your moisturizers and lotions to oils. I could probably rant for days about how terrible the chemicals in our skincare products are. Which is exactly why I made the switch to a chemical free lifestyle. This basically means that all the ingredients on the back of my products are things you'd find untouched in nature. But again this can be a bit overwhelming to turn your entire medicine cabinet upside down. So a great start is to just use oils as skin and body moisturizers. Take a look at my first blog post to see which oils best suit you. And if you really do want to take chemicals completely out of the equation, read the full post and see how I did it initially!
Breathe. Meditating for a beginner can be a bit tough. So instead of thinking of it as meditation, let's just make sure we take some time out of our day for focused breathing. Inhale to your lungs maximum capacity, filling your belly with as much air as it can take. Hold this breathe at the top, then slowly exhale, leaving no air inside of you, contracting your stomach at the end as if to squeeze out every last molecule of carbon dioxide. Do this in a quiet place with your eyes closed or if you're lucky to be around nature, keep your eyes open and focus on the beauty of whats around you and the sensations that you feel (the wind through your hair, the grass beneath your feet, the sun on your skin, etc). 10 minutes a day is enough to start out with!
So there you have it, a few small steps in the right direction to being your best self. I'll be honest, if you're lifestyle habits are extremely poor then these might not help you very much. But I suspect that if you're reading this then you're probably making a few moves on your own towards a healthier self. Either way, keep up the good work and remember that I'm here for you on your journey. As always, wishing you health, peace, joy, and love.