So 5 years ago I started studying Nutritional Medicine. Its been a long haul, smattered with the arrival of two knee highs, travel OS, moving interstate, and many many filled notepads, lectures and lessons.
The funny thing is, now I am 3 subjects out from completing I thought I would be bursting with complex and intricate health strategies unique to each and every person and their individual constitution (!) and yet, low and behold, its the complete opposite, the deeper I get into understanding how the body works the simpler it becomes. I truly feel that I have figured it all out, figured out the secrets to health and my gosh its so darn simple. Like 95% of your health (yes I just made that number up, but hear me out) comes from simple at home practices that are available to EVERYONE.
And I want to share them...
1. HYDRATION - STOP!!! I know you just rolled your eyes. I implore you to continue reading with the interest and enthusiasm of a young child whom this information has been presented to for the first time. Find a way to reintroduce yourself to the information that has been slammed in your face for years. Because honestly being properly hydrated means your body will work at its optimum level.
I have found that everyone is different when it comes to how much is enough. I drink 4 litres, I used to have 2, I was chronically dehydrated and didn't even know I needed a lot more. So when I am hydrated I don't get sugar cravings, I don't crash at 3pm, I sleep well, my hormones don't drive me wild, my skin glows -- this doesn't mean it doesn't have blemishes, it literally just means the texture and colour has a glow about it and shows me that it is adequately hydrated. I can run farther and for longer when I am hydrated, when I wake up my mouth isn't dry (this is a great marker to tell me if I hydrated well enough the day before).
Tips to hydrate -- start the day on water (1-2 litres is great), carry a water bottle with you, sip don't gulp, as taking in too much water at once, will just flush straight out and take with it minerals and other nutrients dehydrating you! Chop fruit and put it in your water to help make it interesting -- kiwi, strawberry, lemon, lime, cucumber; go on, be a dare devil!
So for 1 month I ask you to commit to drinking enough water, play with it and see what feels the best, once you hit the jackpot you will know, its impossible not to feel amazing.
2. GO TO BED - Sleep is a commodity highly rated amongst students, mothers/fathers, full-time-over-time-career driven folk. We stay up late because we are busy, and important, and have so-so-so much to get done. But at what cost? Wake up feeling foggy and heavy, drowsy and irritable, puffy faced and down right moody? So what do you do... reach for coffee and sugar. Take a Panadol to dull the headache then march through the day and do it all again.
Nope. This is not good enough for you my darling. Once you have the water under control (one month of proper hydration), I ask you to trial early to bed, early to rise... for one month. So lets say no later to bed than 9pm, up at around 6am, or earlier if you feel like you want to.
Use the mornings to set up a beautiful routine -- here's mine... wake up, have a glass of water, take 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses (stuffed with iron, calcium, magnesium, and more, its amazing) drink 1 litre of lemon water while I shower, get the kids breakfast and pack lunch boxes, do the school run, come home and make a 1 litre smoothie, drink it and by about 9am I'm done. Find what works for you and use the mornings to hydrate.
3. EAT MINDFULLY - This mindfulness comes from all parts of the approach I take to food; to me it means what is chosen, where its bought from, how its stored, how its prepared, where its eaten, who its eaten with, and most importantly HOW it makes me FEEL after I have eaten it. Phew.
As time progresses and my diet evolves I look back at what I used to do, and have concluded that at any time in history I have eaten in the best way I could in that moment, so what you must know is that what you do now (and what I do now), is simply enough, it is the best you can do today. I say this because I don't want anyone to feel judged on diet.
Now given the career I have chosen, it is natural that I periodically evaluate and shift our diet and so about 5 months ago we moved to a full organic diet (read about that little journey here), I have found we are eating a lot more plants these days, and as a natural progression over the past few months of organic, we have moved further and further to a full plant based diet, what this means for the future I don't know and can't say, but what I can share is that both my husband and I agree that we feel the most healthy we ever have, there is so much more here about the specifics, that I will share in another blog post.
Adding in more plants is easy, you can sneak them in around the sides, and before you know it they are not a side dish or an after thought but the centre stage. Farmers markets are great to pick up quality produce that is often uncertified organic, and very well priced, often grown in back gardens or allotments, and getting to know who grows your food is really cool.
So bearing in mind it took us 5 years to get to where we are today here is an example of what we each consume in one day-
SMOOTHIE: 1 cucumber, 5 stalks kale, 2 bananas, 1 passionfruit, 1/2 inch of turmeric or ginger, (500ml coconut water)
SNACK: 2 carrots, 5 dates
LUNCH: 1 zucchini (made into zoodles), 5 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 capsicum, 1/2 onion, 1 carrot (garlic, s+p and stock to make sauce).
SNACK: 1 apple, 1 orange
DINNER: 1 whole sweet potato baked, 1- 2 ears corn, 5 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 avocado, juice 1 lime.
Gee even it surprises me when I write it out, its a whole lot of plants I know, and it can seem daunting. Please don't be put off, just throw an extra handful of lettuce or cucumber on your plate and start there.
Once you develop mindfulness towards your food choices and see how it feels you will find that it becomes easier and easier to feed your body super levels of nutrition and let the feeling of being healthy guide your choices. You will find you begin to crave them, and then who knows where that journey will take you!
Tips for adding in more plants - check out your farmers markets, try to adapt one meal a day to a plant based choice, drink your nutrition - you can pack so much into a smoothie, use your snack meals as opportunities to eat more plants, try having fruits and veggies only for morning and afternoon tea.
4. MOVE YOUR BODY - A new one for me personally, this year I started running and an almost daily yoga practice, I have known from an intellectual point of view that exercise is good, but actually committing and feeling the benefits first hand, is completely different.
Did you know your lymphatic system, which is an essential part of your immune system, does not have any way to move around your body, the heart looks after the blood but the lymph requires your body to actually move it, so exercise literally causes the lymph to 'pump' around your body. The most noticeable difference with regular exercise is increased energy throughout the day, a peaceful and happy mood, a clearer head and sharper focus, increased memory during and after studies, and obviously the physical changes that come.
I started with Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She offers a 30 days of yoga program. Its free, its awesome, it changed my life. I really can't recommend her enough. Then I added in running, I have been told to receive the endorphins that improve mood (the runners high), its best to aim for a red face and a light sweat, so about 30 minutes to an hour, as many times in a week I can get. Its become a highly addictive practice and my appreciation for my body and what it can do is such a beautiful relationship to cultivate.
Movement has really become a key part of the approach to holistic health. When I don't have the chance to do my practice, I notice a difference in how I feel. I challenge you to challenge yourself to a daily movement plan -- how will you move today?
5. FINALLY this the 5% that is completely unique to you - this depends on what's going on for you. Do you need to have your eyes checked, teeth checked, do you need to be more creative, do some personal improvement/education, do you need to read more, dance more, do you desire to travel, meditate, swim in the ocean, grow your own food, get more flexible, speak a new language.
Its holistic you know, my idea of health isn't about just having a smoothie and calling it a day, its about honouring who you are and what you need.
For me, and I comment on my personal journey as a reference for others not as a directive... I see a chiropractor regularly, I choose to run on the beach (it makes me cry with joy every time!), I aim to be mindful at every level of my life, I attempt to be the best version of myself everyday, and roll with the times I am not. I grow food, do yoga, breathe deeply whenever I think of it, I write a lot whether its notes, stories, quotes or thoughts, I call people to tell them I love them, I write letters to loved ones. These things all bring me joy, they are my 5% cream on the top.
What you do is unique and personal and beautiful, it doesn't have to cost a cent but it sure does means the world.
I hope this post has been useful for you.
Love, J x