Updated: May 5, 2022
Ready to learn the secret to ultimate health and wellbeing?
Health and wellness – and especially nutrition – can be a confusing minefield for many people, with conflicting information coming from all corners, and passionate opinions on both sides. Yet, despite this, there are some basic, fundamental guidelines on which we can all agree. To help kickstart your health journey I’ve highlighted 5 key points that together form the cornerstone of vibrant, healthy living. Don't be fooled, although these things are simple - and you've probably heard some of them before - they are worth repeating, as they truly can make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing (and so many people are still not doing them!). So before you go out and spend a fortune on supplements and tests, make sure you have these things nailed...
1. Eat real food, mostly plants
While the debate rages on as to whether the healthiest diet is a low fat high carb one, or low carb high fat... and so on (hint: the answer is probably that it depends on the person!), what we do know is that the research consistently shows that the healthiest diet for everyone is a predominantly plant-based one. Try to base most of your meals around fruit and veg (aim for more veg than fruit, although both are great!), and make sure to get a portion of greens daily (kale, spinach, etc.). If you need some help with getting started, food blogs such as Ela Vegan or 'Oh She Glows' have some super delicious plant-based recipes, or if you need a bit of extra help in meal planning etc. let me know!
This includes avoiding processed foods. Most of the products in the supermarkets these days - the ones in boxes, cartons, and packages – are not real ‘food’, they’re really just a concoction of chemicals, salt and sugar, made to taste good and physiologically make us addicted to the product so we keep buying it. As the saying goes, if you eat things made by people in white coats, you’ll end up seeing the people in white coats! The more food you can eat that is as close to its natural state as possible, the better your health is going to be, full stop.
2. Make sure you're drinking enough water
The human body is around 60% water, so it makes sense we need to replenish this store consistently (even more so when we are exercising, in the sun, or have a health challenge). Dehydration (even just 4%, which most people are) can cause a whole host of health issues, not least skin problems and constipation. You can work out how much water you should be drinking by dividing your weight in kilograms by 30 to work out how many litres you need daily. (So, if you weigh 60kg, you should aim for 2 litres water per day.) It can sometimes be hard to remember to drink water, so I like to have my water bottle (BPA free!) with me constantly, sitting out in plain sight, so that I see it regularly and remember to drink. There are also apps now for your phone which remind you to drink every hour. Try to drink most of your water in the first half of the day (before lunch), and, if you’re someone who struggles with waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, stop drinking a couple of hours before bed.
3. Move your sweet bod’
We’re probably all aware by now of the numerous health benefits of exercise (including improved sleep, energy, weight management) but most of us still struggle to get in that daily workout. Part of this, I think, is that we feel like only an hour at the gym counts, and if we don’t have time for that then we might as well just skip it entirely! While an hour is great if you can, the key is consistency. So it’s far better to do 20 minutes 5 times a week, than 2 hours at the weekend. Daily movement is key.
If you have any kind of hormonal imbalance, or chronic stress/adrenal fatigue, then you probably want to limit your workouts to 30 minutes as, beyond that, you're putting too much stress on your body, actually pushing it into fat-storing mode! (Check out my post on exercising for your cycle, coming soon.) And do what you enjoy, otherwise you're less likely to do it! Even just walking is better than nothing.
4. Change your relationship with stress
We all know how damaging stress can be in our lives, having been linked to numerous chronic diseases and health concerns. Yet stress is pretty much unavoidable for most people, so it’s crucial that we find ways to manage and deal with it, including making sure we’re getting enough sleep (more on this in minute!). Again, everyone is different, so find something that works for you, whether that’s spending time in nature, journalling, exercise, meditation, taking a long bath, etc. A consistent self-care routine will also help build resilience to stress.
5. Prioritise sleep
Sleep is so important to our overall health and wellbeing; it's the time our body needs to clear out any junk, process and evaluate our day, and to rest and repair. Aim for around 8 hours a night (at least 7), ideally between 11pm and 7am. It's not just the quantity of sleep that's important but also the quality. If you are tossing and turning each night, or having to wake up constantly to go to the bathroom, then you might not be getting quality sleep each night.
Turn off all electronics at least 2 hours before bedtime. The blue light from phones and laptops triggers the body into thinking it's daytime, and therefore time to be busy and productive. Plus, social media and emails are usually a source of stress for many people, so scrolling through Instagram just before bed probably isn't going to help you calm down and rest.
If your body feels restless, try essential oils, tea, a magnesium supplement, or a bath. For people with restless leg syndrome, or trouble falling asleep, a magnesium glycinate supplement can work wonders*. Or you could try a bath with Epsom salts, or bath oils. Speaking of oils, lavender is calming and relaxing, so you could try putting some in the bath (in a carrier oil), or using an essential oil diffuser in the bedroom - that way, the body also begins to associate the smell of lavender with going to sleep.
If you can't get to sleep because you are stressed/anxious/thinking about tomorrow's plans, keep a journal next to the bed, and, right before you go sleep, right down all the things stressing you/your 'to do' list for tomorrow. Sometimes just getting things down on paper and out of your head helps you to feel calmer and therefore fall asleep.
If you need extra support in helping you sleep better, book in for a free consultation with me here.
So there you have it - my top 5 tips for optimal health and wellbeing! I truly believe that if we addressed these 5 areas we would see a dramatic shift in our health and happiness.
These steps are not a panacea, and if you are dealing with a chronic health condition you will undoubtedly need to do more than what's mentioned here (but they would still be a good starting point). It's also important to note that it’s not all-or-nothing; when it comes to health and wellbeing sometimes even just taking small steps can improve things dramatically. The important thing is not to beat ourselves up for not being perfect (who is?), but to celebrate the little victories, and to do what we can, whilst listening to our bodies and our own innate wisdom. If you need any support in any of the areas mentioned, I would love to help. Book in for a free health consultation with me here.
Now over to you: Which of these things are you doing, or would like to implement? I'd love to hear from you; let me know in the comments below!
To vibrant living,
*Please check with your health care provider before starting any new supplementation, to check it's appropriate for you.