With so much health advice swarming all around us, it can become overwhelming to keep track of it all. Fortunately, making healthy choices doesn't have to be complicated or confusing. In fact, it should be a simple, natural process that makes you feel great and fits into your life. You can start taking control of your health by simplifying your approach.
I've condensed the many layers of health "rules" and recommendations into what I call the 3 Pillars of Wellness. Each of these pillars sound quite basic on the surface, but like the pillars of a strong tower, all must be strong and fully developed. If one Pillar is weakened it compromises the entire structure, throwing things off balance - and in this case, that structure is your body. Neglect even one of these Pillars and you will become greatly weakened and prone to illness, stress, and chronic disease.
The 3 Pillars of Wellness
Most any health recommendation you've heard can be narrowed down into one of the Pillars of metabolism, mindset, or movement. Here is a breakdown of each and a description of how you might incorporate them into your lifestyle. Aim to balance all three Pillars for a strong overall foundation for better health. The result? A healthier version of you and long-term wellness for life.
- Eat real food. You must reduce processed “fake” foods, eat healthy fats, and include lean protein in your diet to keep you satiated and control cravings. Get most of your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, rather than enriched flour and added sugar. Speaking of sugar, stay AWAY from added sugar as much as humanly possible. It is literally lurking everywhere. When shopping, stay near the perimeter of the grocery store, and get in the habit of reading food labels to seek out ingredients you can pronounce. Better yet, visit a local farmer's market!
- Get as much sleep as possible. Believe it or not, sleeping well helps lower your cortisol, and also helps regulate the “hunger hormones”, ghrelin and leptin. This study shows the growing relationship between sleep deprivation and weight gain, and how poor sleep duration and poor sleep quality have become risk factors for obesity.
- Drink water all day. Many times when we think we are hungry, we are actually merely dehydrated. Making a habit of drinking water throughout the day keeps us full, avoids dehydration symptoms like headaches, and low energy levels, and boosts metabolism by 30%.
- Manage your stress. You may be thinking this one is easier said than done, and it might take some practice, but it will be to your benefit to avoid stress, or at least find ways to manage it. Some effective methods include relaxing, making time for hobbies, doing some deep breathing, going for a walk, taking a hot shower, or spending time with friends, and meditation or prayer. If you control your day rather than letting stressful situations control you, you'll keep your “hunger hormone”, ghrelin, in check. Plus, you'll also keep your friends and relatives happier since you’ll be smiling more. :)
- Give yourself grace. We all mess up, fall off the "wagon" and have past “failures”. It's time to let go and forgive yourself. This includes eliminating the negative self-talk that will only sabotage your progress.
- Prioritize taking care of YOU. This is a must if you are focusing on bettering your overall health. Make an appointment with yourself for some self care - a manicure, massage, spin class, or just some time to yourself to catch up on a good book. Once you've slotted some "me time", it's important to KEEP that appointment with yourself instead of pushing yourself to the back burner. You are worth it!
- Practice gratitude daily. You have many blessings in life for which you can be grateful. Find a regular time each day, even if only a few moments to acknowledge all that you are fortunate to have and be. You can do this in your personal quiet time, use a daily journal, or spend time in prayer.
- Elevate your heart rate. Keeping yourself active, even for a few minutes per day, is good for your hormones, your heart, your metabolism, and your stress - all helping your overall wellness. This is especially important if you spend much of your day sitting at a desk, driving, or watching television. Incorporate more movement into your life wherever possible. Losing pounds and inches will be a bonus!
- Find your soulmate workout. We all know that exercising is good for us, but who says it should feel like "punishment"? Finding your soulmate workout means finding some activity or workout you actually like to do, then actually looking forward to doing it. Like dating, this might take a bit of time to work up to, but in time the goal is to find something you love doing - or at least don’t hate that much. :)
Your Solid Foundation
The more you incorporate a balance of all 3 Pillars into your daily life, the stronger your foundation will be. Build up your 3 Pillars of Wellness - your metabolism, mindset, and movement - for a solid foundation that will keep you healthy in your Empty Nester years and beyond.
Here's to your health!