We all wish for things we don’t have: tighter abs, more muscle, less fat, flawless skin, 10 extra pounds – gone, more energy, less stress, ad infinitum.
It’s one thing to wish. It’s an entirely different thing to retool, go after the things you wish for, and bring them to life.
There are many things I have learned as a health junkie and coach. My key three:
- Decide what you want.
- Educate yourself and know the playing field.
- Do something small every day to bring about the change you desire.
I’ve experimented with many things to keep myself fit and from withering away as the years pile on. Here are some that have stuck. Feel free to try them out for yourself and see how they feel…
#1 – Morning Rituals
Having a morning ritual allows me to start my day on the right foot. And even if I don’t get everything in, just completing some gives me a sense of accomplishment first thing – which puts me in a positive frame of mind as I go about the rest of my day.
My morning ritual includes a short meditation (5 to 20 minutes); 16 ounces of water almost before my feet hit the floor (water bottle is by my bed), a cleansing drink of either Sole (a natural salt and mineral detox), a botanical cleanse, or lemon/ginger tea; and 15 – 20 minutes of reading something useful or motivating.
Simple. Takes about 30 minutes.
#2 – Facial Mud Cleanse
This is a new favorite I recently discovered. (And my men friends listen up: This is not just for women.) Rhassoul Clay is an exquisite clay sourced from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. If that isn’t enough to entice one to try it, consider that it is pure, 100% natural, delivers skin-enhancing minerals – especially magnesium, and feels like velvet washing over the skin.
The negative charge of the clay draws out impurities, and it is also believed to increase elasticity, even out skin tone, and reduce dryness.
I use it morning and evening as a facial wash. It can also be used for hair – although I have yet to try that.
Mud bath, anyone?
#3 – Reframe Negative Events
They say it’s all in the way you look at it…
This is a simple process I use when I run into upsets that can twist me up and leave me in a helpless heap. I don’t let that happen anymore. I reframe the experience and look at challenges as opportunities to learn or see something I might not have seen before.
Bad things happen to all of us. We can groan and ask “why me?” Or we can adjust our thinking and consider that perhaps there’s a clue here to something we have missed … and missed … and missed again along the way.
Life has a way of putting in front of us the most obvious things we need to learn.
#4 – Out With the Sugar!
Think of sugar as you might think of cocaine: it’s white, it’s a power, it has zero nutritional value and it’s just as addictive. Food companies sneak it into everything they produce precisely for this reason – we’ll consume more and they’ll take it to the bank.
Sugar is your enemy: It clogs up your cells, destroys your hormonal balance, exhausts the body, and fattens you up.
What I did and what I suggest you do? Join me in a 30-day sugar detox. Yep, I know, it’s hard, but then it’s only 30 days and you will not believe the way you feel.
Plus, you might (most do) even lose some weight, food will taste better, your skin will glow, your eyes will sparkle and you will thank me.
#5 – Daily Fresh Air
When I was an infant, mom would bundle me up and stick me outside in my carriage – even in the dead of winter – for my daily dose of fresh air. (Note: She even hung freshly washed sheets outside to dry in the winter. I will never forget the sight of totally frozen board-stiff sheets hanging on the clothesline.) Mom was pure Norwegian where outdoor activities are a way of life. So I came by this honestly.
I try to get outside time every day: take a walk, run, go to the dog park, take my coffee outside and put my bare feet in the grass (when it’s not covered in snow), snowshoe, ski, hike, bike. Science is now telling us that this simple ritual strengthens immunity, relaxes us, and melts away our stress.
Man was not meant to be cooped up in an office, in a cube, breathing recirculated air, and basking under florescent or halogen lights.
#6 – Quench
Each of us is about 60-70% water. Yep, you’re one human sack full of water. Your cells are made of it and bask in it. It’s the medium through which all electrical conversations (trillions of them) take place in your body. It lubricates your joints, washes out toxins, among hundreds of other things. You need it and can last only about 3 days without it.
But how much? This varies according to whom you ask. Eight glasses a day? Half your body weight in ounces?
Drink when you’re thirsty, get a glass in before each meal (helps with digestion and takes up a little space in your belly that you would otherwise fill with food), and do not drink from plastic bottles. Aside from the toxins they give off, the environmental impact is severe and devastating to our planet.
I go with half your body weight in ounces rule and get about 7 to 8 glasses per day.
And make sure it’s filtered. In a recent survey, the Environmental Working Group identified 141 unregulated chemicals in public water systems and 119 more that are regulated by the EPA in our public water systems.
#7 Strive for Seven
Sleep has always been my downfall. As a confirmed night owl, I like to cram all the things I’m not able to accomplish during the day into the wee hours of the morning, cutting heavily into my deep sleep time. No more.
When you sleep, your body goes to work. This is the time it naturally repairs, detoxifies, and rebuilds to get you ready for your next day. Plus, sleep deprivation messes with the hormones that regulate your appetite and your metabolism. It drives up hunger pangs and leaves you craving more and more food.
Give your body time to do its best work and don’t skimp on your sleep! Everyone has different needs but 7 is considered optimal.
# 8. Build Movement into Your Day
“People who are inactive show many signs of accelerated aging including: bone loss, poor cardiovascular tone, decreased telomere length and increased incidence of heart disease“ David Kekich, longevity authority
If there’s one thing you get from this list, get this: even a daily hour of gym time will not offset long periods of sitting on your butt at your desk, in front of the TV, in your car, or wherever.
The average American sits 13 hours a day and we’re just beginning to understand the impact of this on the body.
Long periods on our gluts is killing us. It slows the metabolism which means your body cannot convert as much food to energy – so we store it as fat. It also promotes high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
I try to squeeze in something physical every day – and throughout my day, throwing in short workouts at home (5 to 10 minutes here and there), stretching, lifting weights, going to a spin class, yoga, etc. I also wear a Fitbit which is my accountability partner because it doesn’t lie about how much I move.
If you work at a desk, make it a point to stand up at least once every hour. Rig up a standing desk and alternate between standing and sitting. Take the stairs, get out of the office for a quick walk at lunch.
The take away… Find excuses to move and diminish your sitting time. Even casual movement is beneficial.
#9 – A Daily Green
I know, we hear this all the time, but who does it? Greens and other fruits and vegetables provide crucial nutrients your body needs to run without sputtering and stalling out, but very few of us get what we need.
Nine to twelve daily servings per day is recommended. This hefty requirement may have something to do with the fact that vegetables today have a fraction of the nutrients they did in years past – thanks to synthetic fertilizers and commercial farming practices. So just start with something, anything green or colorful on your plate every day.
You can also boost your intake with juices or concentrated greens and include one green drink a day. Here are some of my favorites: spirulina – put a teaspoon in a glass of water and drink; concentrated Greens, Vital Protein’s Collagen Greens.
#10 – Personal time
Life is short and it seems to me that it ought to be fun. We are all so busy with our daily list of “to-dos” that even a superhero couldn’t complete.
The body cannot function in high gear at all times, so make time in your day for you.
Think of this as strictly YOUR TIME. Not work time. Not time for the kids. Not time for chores, not anyone’s time but yours. Sit, take a nap, light a candle, read a great book, meet a friend for tea, have some wine, breathe and know that you are a miracle of creation.
There you have it: some of the things I do – or at least try to do – each day. Nothing here is hard or complex. Just simple stuff.
The key to change is in the little things you do – consistently. So try something new and stay with it for a week or so, see how it feels and then add another, and let me know how it goes- post your comments below.
I love hearing from you!
“Big changes can come in small packages. To dramatically change your life, you don’t need to run a 100-mile race, get a PhD, or completely reinvent yourself. It’s the small things, done consistently that are the big things.” Tim Ferriss
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WOW!!!! Wonderful info succinctly put!!!! Thanks!!!!
Thanks, Lucy – great to hear from you!
THIS IS GREAT ELAINE! I LOVE THE SLEEP REMINDER….GETTING ENOUGH IS ONE OF MY DOWNFALLS TOO!!! THANKS FOR SOME GREAT INSIGHT! KEEP IT COMING.
will do – Still working on trying to get in by 10:30!
Elaine–Great tips and reminders of things we know but sometimes forget. I enjoyed reading this post!
Thanks, Marla! Great to hear from you!
Thank you,Elaine. We live in California during the winter months so some of your suggestions are easy to fill in the sunshine and beautiful walking trails. Jan Gullace
One of my favorite states! Great to hear from you, Jan!
Great list E! Thank you! May I add one more? Ritual 11: Develop a practice of self-compassion. Thinking kind thoughts about ourselves keeps a “spring in our step” opens our heart and brings inner peace.
Great list, E! May I add 1 more? Ritual 11: Practice self- compassion. Kind thoughts toward ourselves creates a youthful inner peace!
So true. Thank you, Wende! Perhaps that should be a subject in and of itself. I think we all need to remember this.
Thanks Elaine! Great information delivered in a calm, matter-of-fact tone which makes all these tips all the more do-able. #1 Morning ritual and #3 Re-frame negative events are now on my list of things to do. Thanks for sharing your ritual. 30-minutes isn’t so much to ask to start your day off positively. I like your mother’s philosophy about getting outside daily. It’s become my emerging habit. :)
Let me know how it goes, Melonya. I was lucky to have my wonderful little Norwegian mom! She is missed!
I had a day full of obstacles, I am an elementary school teacher & college student at night which can be overwhelming at times. I am starting your tips tonight.
Excited about morning ritual & me time which I tend to forget in the day. I like challenges so I am cleansing my body of sugar till Valentines Day. I bought a box of girl scout cookies this afternoon and I know exactly what to do with them….Make a homeless man’s day by gifting him a treat.
I am going outside now to observe stars and recapture my day with the life lessons I learned today.
Grateful for your perspective
You are always amazing! So nice to hear from you, Arlene. Check in with me on your morning ritual – I am anxious to hear how it goes and what you bring to the start of your day! Thank you for your comments!!