I love helping people make changes in their lives that have meaningful, lasting results. In my own life, several people along the way have helped me make changes too. We all help each other.
One topic that seems to be highly chatted about is health. I think we all want to know how we can be our healthiest and if we've gotten into a no-so-healthy state, how to regain our health.
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Over the years of owning Best Ever You, I've held fitness challenges, talked about sugar detoxes and shown our readers healthy moves we can make to help us all be our best and have participated myself.
Here are five steps and exercises, I created to help us all be our healthiest best.
1. Try to eliminate drinking soda and diet soda I know that sounds harsh and you may be asking "Why?". When I work with clients with Best Ever You's Healthier You Program, it isn't uncommon for a new client to say they are drinking anywhere from 1 to 10 sodas (diet or regular) in a day. It could be from habit, convenience, taste, caffeine, etc... Whatever the case, it is something I ask clients to refrain from drinking, if possible, at least during the first 6 weeks of working with the client. Reach for the water instead of the soda. Here is a link that may explain the "why" better. Soda Affects
Here is an exercise: Try to stop drinking diet and regular soda for 6 weeks of your life. In a journal or on a piece of paper write down anything you drink other than water. for 6 weeks. Try to be mindful and wean yourself to a point of no longer drinking it. Some people can just stop, others need time. (Please note that some people do report headaches or other health issues from this process, so please pay attention to yourself closely and consider consulting your doctor if you need to.) Also, if possible write down where you drank the item and the time. This exercise is designed to try to help you become aware of what you are drinking and is one of the first steps we can take to help our health. Just detoxing from anything but water for a period of time can help your body and help you become aware. I've seen clients lose 20 pounds by just removing soda and diet soda from their lives.
Advanced exercise: What else are you drinking? Are you consuming alcohol, caffeinated coffee, tea, fruit juices, energy drinks, etc..? Now, I'm not trying to eliminate all the fun in life. What I'm more referring to is awareness and speaking to someone perhaps just beginning a journey of a life change or weight loss of 30 or more pounds. It is important to take an overall look at what you are eating and drinking and perhaps consider a detox in the sense of seeing what that overall picture looks like and gradually reducing intake or removing it all together.
2. Raise Your Awareness Levels. Are you aware of what you are eating? I know that sounds strange because you must be aware because you are the one eating. I hear you. I'm asking you this on a deeper level. Are you eating processed foods? Are you aware of the salt and sugar content of these products? Are you eating clean, unprocessed foods? Do you understand why this is important? Are you in a rush and reaching for convenience or driving thru for convenience? What is the impact of the food you eat? How much are you eating? Do you know how much should you eat and what you could eat for optimal health?
Here is an exercise: In a journal or paper, for one week of your life, write down each thing you eat or drink. Please also include any smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs and prescription or over the counter drugs. What does your week look like?
3. Keep an Eye on Time. Slow Yourself Down. How much time do you really have in a day? Of the time in your day, how often are you just in motion from routine and how often are you aware and being mindful of yourself? Are you paying attention to yourself? Several clients I have worked with over the years say they spend a lot of time in their cars driving. This means away from home and seemingly thrown into "convenience mode". I also have worked with some very rushed moms and dads, including my own family. As parents of four boys, my husband and I fully understand the crazy morning factor or night-time sports family. After everyone is packed and out the door, when they were smaller, there were five minutes left for us to shower, get dressed and eat properly, let alone take a moment to actually breathe, we are rushing... When kids play sports, as parents we can be in the car driving instead of making dinner, not having proper time for homework, sleep, etc... I get it.
Here is an exercise: In a journal or on paper, for one month of your life, write down each time you feel rushed or are late or feel tired, exhausted or are sick. Also write down your bedtime and the time you get up in the morning, including any unexpected periods where you are awake at night or can't get to sleep. Take a step back at the end of the month and with thought and consideration, look at your time. Now, look for what I call "wiggle room". Can you back up your late-night-owl self and get up earlier in the morning to create some time for yourself? Are you sleeping too much? Can you create periods of time during the day for yourself? What did your month look like?
How can you create a healthier lifestyle? Because of time created, could you now pack a lunch rather than feeling rushed and out to eat? Could you create some time for exercise? sleep? By looking closely at our time, we can create space for ourselves. Where's the wiggle room? 4. Do you have snack-times? I think kids are onto something with snack-times. Schools basically require snack-times. Why do you suppose that is and when did we all grow out of snack-time? Now, because we are adults and in control of the purchasing and ourselves, it begs the questions about how often we are snacking and what we are snacking on. :) As the primary cook in the house, sometimes I feel like I've eaten the dinner while cooking it - "snacking". So yes, we may eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and YES! - snack :) Some really great snacks are carrots, cucumbers, peppers, pickles, maybe a yogurt, etc... Notice the snacks don't include candy, soda, chips, etc... ( I know... remember I am the chocolate chip cookie queen...)
Here is an exercise: Look at your day and mindfully schedule in 3 snack times. Choose 3 healthy snacks that are not processed foods. So raw veggies, etc... During your snack time, also drink 6-8 ounces of water.
5. Do you have a nap-time? Kids too are onto something with nap-times. Now, before you go snoozing at your desk or drooling on it if you fall into a deep sleep, allow me to clarify. This is really about sleep and also about relaxing. It sort of goes back up to step #3. I'm not positive everyone has a workplace that allows nap-times. I remember being in the office, and at around 3 p.m., I wanted to curl up like a cat and nap and instead I'd reach for a caffeinated this or that or even something sugary for the boost to get to the 5 or 6 p.m. mark. This is a clue and sign to pay attention to. Create that time for yourself. Perhaps practice meditation or a quiet 20 minutes. Maybe turn that lull into a writing moment for yourself. If you need a nap and let's say you are home and relaxed on the couch, take one! You know your Kindergarten self. Did you fight naps then?
Here is an exercise: Take a day out of your life and slow down to a crawl. Maybe even pretend you are in sick mode only you are actually not. Try to do pretty much nothing but relax, eat snacks, drink water, eat healthy, etc.. Don't even work out. Don't clean the house. Don't make lists of things you need to do. Don't read an already written out list. Be mindful of health, but don't throw your energy into too much. Catch up on sleep, catch up on movies or TV What was this day like? You get the picture. On the next day, when you return to your normal activities, note the differences in the way you feel. is there a better blend of relaxation you can implement in your life?
These certainly aren't the only five things in the world you can do to be your healthiest best. I'd love to hear more from you about what you do in your life to be healthy. By sharing your tips, you may help change someone's life. You just never know...
About Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino, Hay House author and founder and CEO of the Best Ever You Network, understands firsthand the challenges life can bring and has worked with thousands across the globe to illuminate their light within and help them live their best life. She has a degree in communications and broadcasting; is a life coach, food-allergy expert, and anaphylaxis survivor; and is the host of The Best Ever You Show. Elizabeth lives with her husband and four boys in Maine.
Elizabeth is the author of Percolate - Let Your Best Self Filter Through (Hay House, 4-14-14)