I often have clients ask me what to do to keep their bodies healthy… whether it’s between sessions, or just for preventative maintenance. For a long time I’ve been telling people that there are only TWO rules to follow in order to be healthy. They are below, with more detail to come for each.
RULE NUMBER ONE – Stop doing things that are bad for you!
If you smoke, drink, use caffeine, eat artificial sweeteners, use lots of refined sugar, eat white flour, eat fried food, eat fast food, use recreational drugs, and things like this, you will never feel good. If you do, it’s only because you are young, but it will catch up to you, likely by your early to mid 30’s. So just stop. If you won’t stop, then reduce. And keep reducing until you’re not doing that stuff any more.
RULE NUMBER TWO – Start doing things that are good for you!
Since this can be a daunting list, I’ve broken this down into some manageable components. Feel free to start them all at once, or pick ones you think you can add into your life easily and build on that. The important thing is to continue to make progress – so find a way that you can integrate these steps into your life so you can feel successful. The more you do, the better you’ll feel, and THAT will be the motivation you need.
- Rest – one of the most important things you can do to keep your body healthy and your immune system working well is to get enough rest. Your body needs rest and sleep in order to maintain a healthy immune system. This cannot be understated.
- Hydration – Water is water is water. No, it’s not tea, coffee, soda, or juice. Our bodies are about 3/4 water, so we need to keep our systems hydrated. That means that when you exercise, when it’s hot, at altitude, when pregnant or nursing, if you have a fever or diarrhea, you need even more water. If you have a hard time drinking enough, try spring or distilled water (tap water is hard for many of us to drink). You can also try some caffeine-free herbal teas as a way to get more water into your body, but keep in mind that it’s not the same thing as water. Always aim for water… about 12 8-ounce cups a day (8 ounces = 1 cup). Personally, I drink about 3/4 of a gallon daily.
- Stretching – Yoga is my personal favorite, but ANY stretching is better than NO stretching. Get help if you don’t know what you’re doing, since you CAN injure yourself if you stretch wrong. There are classes, videos (free at the library and many on YouTube), and personal trainers. Regardless of your financial situation, you can find SOME way to stretch and be healthy. It will help keep your muscles toned and loose, joints lubricated, and energy up. Do it.. you’ll be glad you did! Thai Massage is a method of massage that can also be described as assisted yoga, so you might consider trying that.
- Ergonomics – How you position your body in your every day life has a big effect on your flexibility and pain levels. Notice how you sit at your desk, in your car, on the couch, and how you sleep. Using pillows, bolsters, even towels can make all the difference in the world. Ask me about your situation and I’ll be happy to discuss your personal ergonomic choices with you.
- Inflammatory foods – I know you don’t want to hear this, but you’re reading this, so you must be ok with it. Sugar, dairy and gluten ALL contribute to inflammation in some people. If you’re allergic to a food, it’s also likely creating inflammation in your body somewhere. So, if you’re finding that you have inflamed tissue or joints, it may be worth it to try to cut these foods out and see how you feel. If you’re not sure where to start, contact me, do some other research online, or if you’re lucky to live near a Naturopath, go see one.
- Supplements – Whether you eat a really healthy diet or not, our soil is nutrient-deficient, so it’s helpful to supplement. Additionally, you may have some specific deficiencies that can really only be addressed with supplementation. There are great brands out there with a variety of high quality vitamins, herbs, and other nutritional supplements. It’s good to work with a Naturopath or an Acupuncturist if you can.
- Foam Rollers and Therabands – Great for self-massage and stretching. Do them both. You’ll thank me.
- Exercise – You already know this, but I just had to mention it. Cardio can just be walking. Weight training is also important, especially for maintaining bone health. Get help, don’t do this alone.
- Bodywork – Whether it’s acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, or something else, take care of the amazing machine that gets you through the day. If funds are limited, there are ALWAYS inexpensive ways to get care. Schools often have clinics that are supervised by trained, licensed professionals, and they are a fraction of the cost of a professional at their own clinic. You can also barter for bodywork, as many providers are willing to do that. If money isn’t an issue, then ask around, do some research, and be prepared to try several practitioners in any single discipline. It’s worth it to find the right person for your body. And remember that YOU are in charge, not the doctor, not the therapist. Listen to your body.
- Reduce stress – Yes, it’s a popular catch-phrase…. but it’s still responsible for most of the illness that we have today. Heart, auto-immune, anxiety, hormonal issues (even infertility), reflux, depression, etc…… all go back to stress. It’s a bigger beast to tame, but necessary. Get the help you need. Massage, acupuncture, counseling, coaching, exercise, supplements, and rest can all help. Again, if you have specific questions about this, see a professional (Naturopaths and Acupuncturists are great!), but I’m happy to give you some pointers, too. Just write to me and I’ll point you in some directions.
This is all for now, but I will keep adding to this list, so feel free to check back. In fact, it is my goal to have an article on each topic. Please feel free to suggest a topic as well!