In How to be Healthier: Simple, Achievable Edition, I aimed to make healthier decisions. I had the knowledge, I added the commitment. “Eat better, exercise more” is pretty much the strategy, and we all know that. But my mindful month pointed me to some significant details.
Usually, I don’t drink enough, and my brain mistakes thirst for hunger. Whether I’m going downtown or up a mountain, I now bring extra water. I don’t keep track of how many cups I’m drinking or whatever, but when I have it on me, I hydrate, and that seems to be enough.
Stretch a little.
Even five minutes of yoga in the morning and before bed makes my body feel so much better. I’ve done enough of Tara Stiles’s routines to make up my own depending on what my body needs, but my favourite video of hers is Morning Yoga for Flexibility. I’ve also love the 10 Minute Solution Yoga ab routine by Lara Hudson [although I think it’s more pilates].
Exercise a little.
Often I skip out on a run or a bike ride because I don’t feel like going for a long time. Truth: the short time is always worth it. I ran about a mile one day and cycled two the next, and felt That Much Better. No marathon required. In need of motivation? Wake up and put on your gym clothes. AnnaSophia Robb says she practically lives in workout clothes to motivate her to exercise.
Listen to how food makes you feel.
Sometimes I wolf down my food in five minutes. Other, better, times, I chew mindfully and thoroughly, paying attention to [note: enjoying] my food. When I pay attention, I can tell when I’m full. We’ve all had that feeling in which we are so stuffed we can’t eat another bite right? Actually that feeling starts to kick in earlier, I find, but it’s a whisper rather than a scream. Listen to that whisper. Also, listen to your stomach – we reach for things that are tasty, but I’ve started to pay attention to how food feels in my stomach afterwards too. Some foods, like salads, rest comfortably and quietly, while alas, cookies, make my stomach go uuuugh a bit. Feed yourself to please your stomach, not just your tastebuds.
Nothing in excess.
A balanced diet is well, balanced. Not too much sugar, but also not too much spinach. A healthy plate is a rainbow plate. Uh, I’m talking natural colours in fruits and veggies, not rainbow sprinkles [unfortunately]. Eat a variety of healthy, colourful goodness.
Vegan food is not always healthy food.
I find it easier to abstain than refrain, which is one of the reasons why I choose to eat a mostly vegan diet: I saw it as a quick leap to a healthy living. Buuut being healthy isn’t as simple as cutting out meat, dairy, and eggs. Theoretically, I could eat sugary vegan brownies all day and that wouldn’t be so healthy would it. I could even eat sugar-free gluten-free vegan brownies all day and that too wouldn’t be so healthy. Healthy eating is a bit more complex, but that’s interesting and fun right? [right.].
Eat regular meals and don’t let yourself get too hungry.
Whether you eat three meals a day, five, two, or you just graze, have a plan and stick to it. My worst eating lapses occur when I’m suddenly very hungry and end up eating crisps for lunch because I can’t find something. I noticed that when I get really hungry, I usually eat too quickly and too much when I do get my meal, and then feel way too full after.
I was in Seattle eating at carefully selected healthy restaurants, doing lots of city-walking – why did I feel less awesome than the week before? I think the main difference was that I was eating out instead of cooking. Even though I was choosing healthy restaurants, I don’t know exactly what their recipes were, and because I had paid for an entire plate, I probably ate a lot more than I would have at home when I could stick leftovers in the fridge.
Find exercise you love and make sure you do it.
This month I fit brief yoga sessions into my daily routine, and promised myself to go climbing at least once per week. That promise made a huge difference – I feel bad asking to be driven to the gym [because I’m 22 and still can’t Apparate, I know.], but I know it will make me feel better and happier, and therefore a more pleasant person to be around. Plus it’s fun working climbing into my travels – Sister and I checked out Planet Granite in California, and are going bouldering in Central Park.
Read about healthy people and their journeys.
I just happened to be reading Joshua Fields Milburn’s Day in the Life of a Minimalist, which includes a chapter on health – it was super inspiring to read about his journey as well as his positive results. When I changed my diet from omnivorous to vegetarian to vegan, I read Angela Liddon’s “Road to Health” blog series over and over. My one vegan cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, includes not just yummy recipes but also background on what inspired Kris Carr and Chad Sarno to eat as they do. The pages of nutritional advice are also fascinating – as said above, “vegan” is not enough – I’m self-educating in nutrition and deliciousness.
So while we’re on the subject, what’s YOUR health story? Do you have any awesome advice to add to the discussion?