Hey there! How are you? I’m starting to feel the pressure of my NTC program, so I’ve been pretty busy keeping up with the weekly assignments, but it is SO worth it. I can’t wait to start applying what I’m learning and helping others make positive changes! For now, I’ll start small with some small changes.
I’ve been thinking recently about how people go head first into BIG life changes and then burn out in a few weeks. Some people do well with an all or nothing approach and adapt to big changes really quickly; but a lot of people don’t respond well to sudden, big changes. If you’ve ever tried to make big changes in your diet or lifestyle only to give up a few weeks or months later, you fall into this category. I’ve done this a lot myself. I start programs and make decisions that overhaul my whole lifestyle that are shortly lived and sometimes cause a pretty severe reaction where I end up in a worse position then before I tried to change!
So if you’re in the same boat, I have a few suggestions for small changes that will make a huge impact. There’s no need to give up all the things in one day, especially if it’s not going to last long term. Start small, and build on those small changes over time, and you’ll be able to look back and realize you’ve actually made a huge impact on your health and lifestyle!
Drink More Water
There are a lot of theories on how much water we should be drinking each day, and from what I can tell it’s all extremely subjective. Do you work out frequently? are you in a hot or cold climate? Do you drink caffeinated beverages? There are too many variables to try and give you an estimate of how much water you should be drinking, but what I can say is that unless you’re exclusively drinking water all day, you’re probably not drinking enough. Personally, I love water and choose it 90% percent of the time, but I realize I’m in the minority on this, so here are some tips to start drinking more water:
- Swap out your daily iced tea/diet soda/whatever with sparkling water (Spindrift and LaCroix are both excellent, clean brands) or throw some fruit into your water to make it more appealing.
- Commit to drinking a glass of water every time you drink a cup of coffee (or tea) because caffeine directly affects our hydration levels
- Same with alcohol – alternate with water to stay hydrated (I’ve heard this helps reduce hangover effects as well)
Make Sleep a Priority
Getting more sleep can have a dramatic affect on your stress, appetite, energy, and so much more. Adequate sleep is a cornerstone to your health, but it’s so underappreciated in today’s culture of constantly hustling. Most people require 6-8 hours each night for optional rest and recovery, but even you’re getting enough sleep it may not be effective. If you struggle to fall asleep and wake up throughout the night, you’re likely still not getting the most out of your rest. Here are some tips to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep:
- Give yourself a bedtime – Depending on when you wake up in the morning, choose a bedtime for yourself to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If you wake up at 7AM, set an alarm or reminder for 9/9:30PM so you know when it’s time to wind down, and be in bed by 10PM.
- Limit screen time at night – blue lights stimulate our minds and bodies and trick us into thinking it’s still daytime when we should be winding down and getting ready for rest. If turning off screens isn’t an option, use daytime/nighttime settings (I know Apple has one that you can schedule to turn on and off as the sun sets and rises) or consider getting some blue light blocking glasses.
- Stop watching TV in bed. I used to need the TV on to fall asleep at night, but having those lights on when we’re trying to sleep can be too stimulating and prevent us from getting good quality rest. It took me a few weeks to adjust to falling asleep without the TV, but now I can do it with no problem.
- Turn the thermostat down – keeping your bedroom a few degrees cooler will help you sleep through the night.
Swap Your Oils
Something as small as changing the oils you cook with can have a huge impact on your health. Oils like vegetable, corn, and canola are commonly thought of as “healthy oils” and even marketed as “heart healthy” but that’s far from accurate. The process these oils go through just to get to your grocery store shelf ensure that by the time you get it home, it’s already rancid from exposure to heat and chemicals used to deodorize or bleach the oils. Our bodies need fat, but they need the right kind of fat. Swap your processed “healthy fats” for truly natural cooking fats, and most importantly, put down the margarine! There is no value in using margarine or other “butter substitutes”; if you have problems digesting lactose try using ghee instead. It’s an incredibly simple swap that will make a huge impact.
Best fats for high-heat cooking:
- Grass fed butter and ghee (I love Kerry Gold)
- Coconut oil
- Animal fats (duck fat, lard, tallow, etc.) from appropriately raised animals – EPIC brand is a great place to start
Best fats for low-heat cooking/baking (under 350 degrees farenheit):
- Extra virgin olive oil – look for organic, cold pressed oil in a dark bottle
- Avocado oil – again, organic, cold pressed, in a dark bottle
Cook one healthy meal each week
Health is cumulative. This is great news, because even if you can’t or won’t give up certain foods or activities, you can still make a difference in your overall health by making a few changes. Start by choosing to cook one healthy, nourishing meal each week. Pick a low-pressure night were you won’t feel rushed or worn out, and make it special. Gets the kids involved, set the table, and make it a special meal that you will enjoy. If you can train your mind to not only enjoy healthy foods, but look forward to the ritual cooking and eating a healthy meal, you’ll want to do it more often!
There are tons of free recipes online if you need help or inspiration; here are some of my favorite healthy food bloggers:
- Fed and Fit (Cassy Joy)
- PaleOMG (Juli Bauer)
- Balanced Bites (Diane Sanfilippo)
- Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
- Against All Grain (Danielle Walker)