- I Go to bed early How many hours of sleep are you getting per night? I am willing to bet you suffer in the “getting enough sleep department”. Research revealed getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night has been linked with increased hunger and appetite along with reduced energy expenditure due to fatigue. If you have poor sleeping habits this can increase your body’s energy needs, meaning you will probably be hungrier. When you are sleep deprived your brain releases chemicals that signal hunger, most likely because the body is looking for a quick energy source. This typically leads to eating more overall than you would if you had a good night’s sleep, plus moving/exercising less. Overtime, the increased food and lack of exercise will cause weight gain. Getting enough sleep also contributes to improved immune system function. When you sleep your immune system releases compounds called cytokines. Some of these cytokine compounds have a protective effect on your immune system by helping you fight inflammation and infection. So, if you are not getting enough sleep you may not have enough of those protective compounds to fight off illness. And, who has time to be sick? Yea, didn’t think you did. Overall, chronic lack of sleep increases the risk for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Getting enough sleep is a habit just like eating healthy and exercising regularly and just as important as healthy eating and exercise. You should make it a habit to go to bed at an hour that ensures 7-8 hours of sleep per night. How do I wind down and ensure a good night’s sleep? I do these things:
- I make tomorrow’s to-do list before I do anything to help me wind down. Writing things down helps my brain relax knowing that I won’t forget anything important the next day because I have it written down!
- Take a warm shower or bath. During this time, I take a few deep breaths and let the warm water relax me.
- Turn my phone on do not disturb, plug it in, leave it alone, and crawl into bed. Think scrolling through your phone helps you relax? Not really. Studies show the light from your phone, computer, iPad, Tablet, TV, etc. keeps the brain alert. It isn’t really relaxing. So, turn it off and leave it alone.
- Read a book. Spend some time reading a good book. This will help get your mind off everything that happened during the day and/or everything you feel like you need to get done tomorrow. My eyes become heavy and BOOM. I AM OUT!
- I go for a 20-minute walk. Each morning I walk, and I don’t do it because I consider it cardio or exercise. I do it for my sanity…and my dog. It has been proven that a daily, brisk walk improves your mood. Sometimes I pray when I walk. Sometimes I don’t think about a dang thing. I don’t kill myself on this walk. I just walk at a pace I enjoy. Besides mood improvement I did notice I became leaner because of my daily walking routine. Over the span of a few months I noticed I dropped around 5 pounds of fat when I started walking daily. That wasn’t my goal, but hey, I am not complaining. Walking will help you maintain a healthy weight and has been shown to prevent and/or manage various conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and even Type 2 diabetes by helping regulate blood sugar levels according to the Mayo Clinic. I will also mention walking can improve your digestion. And, if you are or have been an Arise client you know how important good digestion is! Plus, we all need to get outside a little more and soak up some Vitamin D. So, wake up, and get moving! I promise you will benefit from that 20 minutes daily.
- I drink a glass of warm, lemon water as soon as I wake up. What is the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning? I drink a glass of warm, lemon water. I use freshly squeezed lemon and water that is slightly warmer than luke-warm. I started doing this several years ago for my digestion and it became a habit. This morning I actually looked up all the benefits and am thrilled to find out this concoction of lemon and warm water is a healthier habit than I thought. In fact, I could probably write an entire blog on the benefits of drinking warm lemon water alone. But, someone has already done that and I will reference it once I tell you a few more things about this fantastic morning drink you should make a habit. Drinking warm water first thing in the morning (and apparently throughout the day) help cleanses the body by flushing out toxins and improves digestion/helps with constipation. That was the reason I began drinking it each morning. Come to find out, warm water can alleviate pain from menstruation to headaches! The heat from the water is supposed to have a calming and soothing effect on your abdominal muscles. This can provide instant relief for crams and muscle spasms. I plan on trying this when I go into labor in a few weeks! Hot liquids are proven to increase blood flow to the skin, thus helping to relax cramped muscles. Now, here is something I had not thought about, and really can’t speak to directly, but, apparently, warm water increases body temperature. Duh. That sounds right. Now, when your body temperature is elevated, your metabolic rate increases. Adding a lemon to the water helps to break down adipose tissue (body fat). According to the article I read on Medical Daily it can also control food cravings due to the lemon’s pectin fiber. Just reading that, well, it’s certainly worth a try! So, each morning, squeeze half a lemon (or whole if you like it really tart) into a class of warm water and drink up! You can read all the health benefits of warm water here: https://www.medicaldaily.com/health-benefits-warm-water-6-ways-drinking-warm-water-can-heal-your-body-282218.
- I make a green smoothie. I know, I know. Everyone thinks this is soooooo nasty. It isn’t. I promise. I don’t even taste the spinach. Each morning I shove as much spinach as I can handle (usually around 3 cups or so) into the blender. I put 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder in, water, and a few ice cubes. Blend it up and down the hatch it goes. Seriously, I do not even taste it. I started doing this when I got pregnant because vegetables were the last thing I wanted to eat, but I knew my baby needed all the goodness greens have to offer. It is a habit now, and one I don’t plan on quitting. Spinach is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that can help improve the health of your eyes, prevent cancer, reduce blood pressure levels, reduce oxidative stress, and improve digestion. Spinach is packed with Vitamins B6, B9, C, E, K, K1, Folic Acid, Iron, and Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium. So, after hearing all that why wouldn’t you blend it up and drink it? If you want your green breakfast smoothie to be a satisfying one, pack the blender with at least 3 Cups of spinach, 1 medium banana, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, and 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter along with water and ice. Blend together. Drink up! I think you will be surprised at the flavor. Just do me a favor, try it at least once!
- I take time to just be still and reflect. Do you take a few minutes daily to just be still? Time to just sit in silence, be still, reflect, and maybe even journal your thoughts? You should. From my personal experience I notice huge changes in my day, specifically my mood and ability to handle stress and anxiety, when I take this time each morning to be still, meditate, and reflect. Chronic stress is a real thing these days and I refuse to be chronically stressed. The act of meditation is shown to reduce stress levels and control anxiety. There is a long list of benefits on the practice of meditation, and, again this could be an entire blog post. A few more are that meditation promotes emotional well-being, enhances self-awareness, and can even generate kindness. I make this a discipline, a non-negotiable, if you will each morning. It is so easy to jump out of bed, drink a cup of coffee, and rush around starting on my long to-do lists I have for myself each day. But, I remember the story about Mary and Martha in the Bible. In the book of Luke chapter 10 there is a story about two sisters. One named Mary and the other Martha. Jesus entered a village and was received by Martha, who welcomed Him into her home. Martha began to busy herself and became distracted by serving, while Mary, her sister, just sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to His teaching. Martha became resentful and asked Jesus to make Mary help her serve. Jesus’ response may be surprising to you. He said in Luke 10:41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things, Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.” So often, we get so caught up in the “doing” just to be doing we forget the things that are the most important. Very often, the most important things for our health, whether it be our spiritual, our mental, our emotional, and even our physical health, are shoved to the side while we busy ourselves with things that can wait just a few minutes while we take time to be still. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ one of the most important things, we can do daily is take time to sit at the feet of the One who has redeemed us and the one who loves us unconditionally. Allow Him to refill our vessels, refresh our spirit, and gently remind us how to love as He loves. I promise you that all His promises will renew and refresh you each and every day. If you need some scientific-based evidence on the benefits of meditation you can read this article: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#section5
I am not sharing these things with you to brag or act like some great person because I do them. I am sharing these things because I know, without a shadow of doubt, these things have made me a healthier individually spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I hope you begin to do these things in your life and can’t wait to hear how you are affected by them!
Is there anything you started doing that has made you healthier? Let us know!