Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be healthy and happy all the days of your life? What would that even look like? What would you have to do and will it be hard?
I surveyed the healthiest women I know (health coaches, yoga instructors, acupuncturists, environmentalists and the like) and found out exactly what they do each and every day to stay young, healthy, fit and feeling alive. Most of these habits (in no particular order because all of them are important) are easy to adopt and certainly don’t take up a lot of time.
Take a look…
Whether you’re sitting for 10 minutes or lying on your back for 30, meditation is a sure way to balance your energy and get your mind right. “Just letting myself sit or lie and do nothing is a good practice because I always feel like there is laundry or a dish to wash or a patient to contact,” says Amy. We have so much going on in our lives - and in our heads - every minute that it’s crucial to take a timeout.
Sit quietly, turn off your mind and let your vibration rise to a higher place — a place where everything works out for you, where stress dissolves and you can face anything the day brings. Carol says, “Every morning and night I meditate for five minutes. Because I start and end my day looking inward and checking in with myself, I've found that I'm able to enjoy my day more and handle challenges with grace and ease.”
Better out than in! It’s truly important to keep things moving inside your body and to get rid of toxins, waste, bacteria and dead weight on the daily. If you’re not having a good bowel movement every day, you probably should think about changing a health habit or two. “I make sure to poop every day. That is detoxifying,” Amy shares. Nobody wants to feel constipated and I’m sure you certainly don’t want to get sick, so move that shit through!
I discovered yoga in college and have never looked back. I could immediately see and feel the benefits of this simple, mindful practice and have been doing it ever since. It incorporates deep breathing, stretching, meditation, strength building, balance and so much more, all in one session!
Yoga can range from gentle for beginners to advanced for more athletic types. “I usually incorporate kundalini yoga-style intense breath work. I am really getting into [this style] — it's so 'out there' but the intensive breath work of it is immediately gratifying and really shifts my day when I do it,” shares Sam.
And any little bit helps, even if you do a couple moves after a workout to cool down. Carol says, “I do yoga whether I have 30 minutes to just let my body flow after dinner or if I have 2 minutes on a break at work.” Who knows, yoga could become your new favorite form of exercise.
Restaurant food is well, let’s face it, delicious. And convenient. And of course when you’re on vacation, who doesn’t love indulging on all those fun foods (french fries!) you wouldn’t normally, or can’t, make at home? But this can catch up to you if done too often (speaking from experience).
It’s best to adopt a habit of shopping for or growing local, organic, whole food and bringing it into your own kitchen to prepare yourself. Carol says, “I like to have homemade meals using real food as much as I can” and Wendra “eats organic everything at home.”
“I make 90%+ of the food I eat at home from whole food ingredients,” declares Sam, while Leia understands that “the fact that we can choose the food we eat is a privilege that other people simply don't have. Keep it simple, eat whole foods.” Your digestive system will surely thank you for it and you’ll be able to tell immediately that you’ve made a good choice.
If you’re not resting, you’re stressing. Nighttime is the time to let everything that’s bothering you slip away and to allow your body to restore, recover and replenish, AKA heal. This is vital to a healthy, long life and while an all-night bender or two once in awhile can be fun, it’s not sustainable. Carol says, “Sleep is very important to me. I get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night.” And Leia “[has] a consistent sleeping routine where I'm in bed early and up early.” Trouble sleeping? Try rubbing lavender essential oil on the bottom of your feet at bed time.
You can probably tell when you haven’t been moving your body quite enough. Everything feels stiff and sore, you’re sluggish and unmotivated, and possibly your digestion is lagging behind too. It could be because you’re not getting enough exercise. It’s an age old adage, and it’s oh so wise: Move that body!
You don't have to spend money on a gym membership or start attending overcrowded classes. “Everyday no matter what, I do something physical. A blend of outdoor activity like hiking with my dogs or even walking around the neighborhood, yoga class, spin class,” says Jill.
Erin likes “cardiovascular exercise at the gym or fast walking my hilly neighborhood. I fit in exercise where I can for well-being.” And Sam “tries to either do circuit training, lift weights, walk or sprint 5-6 days a week.” It can be as simple as lacing up your tennies and walking out the front door.
Pack It Up
Are you busy, in the car a lot, or travel for work? You could rely on whatever happens to be around or you could totally be prepared and walk out the door armed with good nutrition for the day. “I always pack my own food when traveling,” boasts Wendra.
Sometimes we’re not sure when we’ll get to eat again or if we’ll have to skip a meal because of these crazy modern lives we lead. Take matters into your own hands and prepare food for the road ahead. “Anytime I leave the house I bring snacks with me: nuts, seeds, bars, high fiber fruit, raw veggies, kale chips.” Way to go, Jill!
Get Yo’ Greens
My personal favorite way to prevent inflammation in the body is by getting a big, daily dose of dark leafy greens. “No matter what's for dinner I always have a salad with it. [This] ensures a serving of greens and other veggies tossed in there,” says Jill. We’re talking kale, spinach, parsley, chard, cilantro, romaine. Leia says, “I feel great when I eat salads and fruit.”
Bring it on because there’s not much worse than having your pH out of whack. This leads to chronic illness, muscle & joint pain and disease. Juice them, chop them, sauté or blend them, get your greens! “I have a green juice everyday,” says Wendra (Amen, sister!), and Sam likes a “green smoothie with flax seeds and tons of fruit for breakfast, and gorging on enormous salads with dinner.”
Ditch the soda and hydrate your body for real with good ol’ water. Yep that’s right, just water. Not Vitamin Water, Gatorade, iced tea or lemonade. I’m talking about the stuff your body really needs to slow aging, regulate body temperature and um, hello… keep you alive and well!
If you’re like many people and don’t like the taste of water, add lemon, cucumber or mint to your refillable glass or stainless steel bottle. You know, the one you bring with you every time you leave the house.
Erin is “mindful of drinking water,” and Sam “drinks plenty of water and herbal tea (I love nettle and red raspberry leaf) throughout the day.” Yes that’s right folks, water, hot or cold, infused with herbs is indeed hydrating. “There are so many amazing teas with incredible health properties. Plus, a cup of herbal tea counts towards your 8 glasses of water a day,” informs Jill. “I start my day with warm lemon water. This cleanses my system and boosts my energy for the day (goodbye, coffee!),” says Carol.
Here’s another one of those tried and true expressions that is actually worth uttering to your children, and their children, and on and on. Amy works on getting “that US daily requirement of five vegetable [servings] a day. This can also be fruit but even better when it is all veg.” And Sam says, “I eat a lot of vegetables. I mean a lot. This also means that I eat seasonally. Winter will probably be veggie-packed soups, stews, or bakes for dinner.”
Yes, we’re talking about a plant-based diet here, but no one should feel they have to eat food they don’t like. We all have our picky moments when it comes to colorful food out of the ground. I mean after all, this stuff was grown with worm poop! But seriously, find a few vegetables you love and stick to those for awhile. And then later, when you’re feeling brave, and healthier, add something new.
Your turn! What do you do regularly, if not daily, to maintain your health and get you through the day feeling alert and vibrant? Share in the comments here or head over to Facebook and comment there. I’d love to hear from you!