FOR THE BODY
“Nourishment of yourself is the best preventative medicine currently available!”
This statement by John Travis and Regina Ryan in their iconic wellness manual, “The Wellness Workbook” is something we need to remind ourselves of on a daily basis. We need to nourish our mind, body, and spirit to stay healthy. Maintaining a healthy body involves a number of factors, the most important of which is the consumption of healthy, nutritious food. We need to also remember that there is a direct link between your state of mind and your eating habits. If your mood is low, your eating is erratic and void of thought. When you are feeling positive, you are more conscious of what you eat and tend to savour your food more. A healthy mindset is the essence of a healthy body.
It is also important to concentrate more on incorporating healthy eating habits slowly, one at a time and not focus on weight loss in a quantitative manner. Treat weight loss as an added bonus to healthy eating – the reduced stress and anxiety will help you stay on track. I have personally had the most success when I keep things simple and doable – easy to prepare meals and fun, do-it-anywhere exercise. In this section, I’ve included some simple, healthy meals and tips for tweaking your daily routine to help you work towards staying on the path to optimal health. I would also love to hear about your experiences – what worked for you, what didn’t?
Drinking Enough Fluids
Staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy mind and body. Drinking adequate amounts of water has a multitude of benefits including: flushing out toxins in the body, regulating blood pressure and body temperature, reducing muscle cramps, helping our organs to function optimally, as well as increasing metabolism (which has the added bonus of aiding weight loss). I personally find I have more energy and better concentration when I'm properly hydrated.
The recommended amount of water is 8 glasses or2 litres per day. The key word here is recommended - but it is not set in stone. For some people, this can be excessive, while for others inadequate, but for most, it works reasonably well. The main thing is not to get obsessive with the amount, just aim to drink more to stay hydrated - learn to listen to your body's cues. If you're thirsty - drink; if you're lacking energy - drink; if you're perspiring in hot weather or during exercise - drink. But you also don’t need to wait for cues to drink either! Start by drinking a glass first thing in the morning and before each meal and gradually increase your intake as your body adjusts.
If you don't like drinking a lot of water - there are alternatives. No, not coffee (sorry to all the coffee drinkers out there, I don't mean to offend!). Try raw, organic coconut water - it's excellent for hydration and perfect for drinking during and after exercise - my favourite go to drink after water, especially during exercise and in the heat (I avoid cold water or ice). Add a drop of lemon, lime or wild orange essential oil to your water for some freshness (a great detox too when taken first thing in the morning) or a drop of ginger essential oil for a spicy kick. Make your own fruit flavoured water as an alternative to the sugar-laden energy drinks on the market. In the cooler months, it tends to get harder to drink water, even at room temperature. Try drinking organic herbal tea - the combinations available are endless. My personal favourites are camomile, hibiscus, peppermint, lemongrass/ginger and green tea with jasmine. There's a multitude of organic tea blends - try them out until you find your favourites.
Once you maintain the habit of staying hydrated, you'll notice a difference on the days that you are a bit lax. This one conscious change is too good not to take on board. Will you join me in taking this challenge to stay hydrated?
Today I'd like to broach the "E" word, exercise. For me, the word exercise brings to mind going to the gym - which I hate with a passion because I find it extremely boring. Gym memberships may work for some people but it needs commitment. I had a gym membership for over 5 years and only went actively for two of them. I could never stay motivated for too long unless I had a personal training session but they became really expensive on top of the gym fees. The one thing I really did enjoy at the gym though were the group classes - especially the boxing and high intensity cardio classes. Wow! Now they were heart-pumping and fun – despite the pain. Group classes and the interaction with other people works for me but the gym set up and environment doesn’t.
When I first started cardio tennis lessons after many years of not exercising I realized how much I missed it, how amazing it made me feel. The adrenaline rush from any form of exercise - all those amazing endorphins - is priceless and quite addictive. And the benefits are so worth it: improved mood, increased energy, weight loss, better sleep and more importantly prevention of a whole lot of health issues.
But exercise should be fun – not mundane. Find something you enjoy whether it's going to the gym, walking, cycling, swimming or even Zumba classes, try something you’ve never done before to discover what you enjoy.
Find a local yoga/pilates studio or sign up to online yoga classes. There are even mobile phone apps that allow you to do workouts at home. Ditch the excuses – it’s too hot, it’s too cold, I’m tired, I don’t have time, I don’t have any active wear, 10 minutes of exercise is not enough – ignore those crazy excuses for good. Just make sure you designate “non-negotiable” times to do it and make sure you stick to it. Even if it's only for 10-15 minutes, one or two days a week, and increase it as you go. Slowly build it up at your own pace to a doable level that you can maintain and above all, enjoy it. Do it with a friend, join a walking or cycling group, just get moving and have fun. Just do it! But be warned, once you start, you may never give it up but your mind and body will thank you for it.
I need the motivation to get back into exercise which is why I wrote about it. Will you join me in making a start today? Let’s all dust off those runners, grab a bottle of water and get started, right now!