This article was written by Nashville Strength Trainer Ashley Dance.
We all have work to do when it comes to our health. Even if you are a healthy person, you have to keep it up! Healthy takes maintenance–you don’t just magically stay that way. Here are some simple healthy habits to form that will help you be more intentional about basic healthy principals. None of these are very hard, or take up too much time; we just need to DO it. So try these. Be annoying about it for a week and notice if you feel any different.
1. Wake up and drink water with lemon
We do a lot of detoxing in our sleep. Lemon is alkalizing to the body and assists the liver and kidneys with eliminating waste from the body. Water is essential to life and helps transport both nutrients and waste throughout our body. So we want to help our body move along everything that was processed at night. If you get frequent headaches, you might be chronically dehydrated. Many people are. Ideally your water is pure, or at least filtered. You will have at least started your day with water if for some reason you don’t drink enough the rest of the day. If you have don’t have lemon on hand you can get by with a tablespoon of RAW apple cider vinegar or RAW coconut vinegar in a glass of water.
2. Eat fruit first.
Fruit has a high water and fiber content in addition to having essential minerals in the correct size and form to be utilized by the body. Fruit is the most ideal food coming from trees which have deeper root systems and can obtain more nutrients from the soil than annually planted crops. It contains nutritive sugars, which are the fuel for our muscles. We want to continue our hydrating, detoxing and eliminating that we began with the lemon water. The energy from the sugar in the fruit and the fiber help get your intestines moving and working. You can eat something else later, but eat the fruit first. Smoothies are great!
3. Probiotics every day
This may seem strange to you as one of our healthy habits, but hold on. Eighty percent of our immune system is in our gut. It’s also where we digest our food and obtain nutrients. Probiotics assist both digestion and immune health. They are beneficial bacteria that work with our body. All of us have been exposed to antibiotics and other gut-destroying chemicals in our lives, so it is extremely important to repopulate your gut with proper bacteria. Bacteria help to breakdown pesticides and transform vitamins and minerals into forms our bodies use. While there are some good supplements out there, as always, it’s best to get probiotics from a food source. Food sources include fermented vegetables like naturally fermented pickles, sauerkraut or kimchi, dairy like kefir or yogurt and tea like kombucha. You can make all of these things yourself, but most stores have options to buy now!
4. Stretch every day
This one seems silly and takes more time than the other things so far, but it is so important. All day we sit, walk and stand in basically the same direction. We always move forward and our hip flexors, hamstrings and low back muscles can become too tight and start to cause pain. This happens because those same muscles are always activated and become unbalanced. We need our hips to go sideways and our backs to bend the other way. Think about sitting at a computer with your hunched shoulders and back, and how they begin to hurt after awhile. Doesn’t it make sense to balance them by bending the opposite way?
5. Get enough sleep
Last but not least among our healthy habits is getting good sleep. This one is often hard, too. Any healing requires extra sleep. All of us have healing to do on some level. Illness and injury occur when there isn’t enough time for the body to repair the damage it has incurred throughout the day. We use the sympathetic nervous system primarily when we are awake, but the parasympathetic takes over during sleep. Just like with stretching our muscles, we need balance in our nervous system as well. Again we do a lot of detoxing while asleep, so your body needs time to do its thing! Much of your emotional processing occurs at night. It’s not just a figure of speech to tell someone to “sleep on it” when making a big decision. Sometimes after a good night’s sleep you feel more ready to tackle a problem and it’s because of this emotional processing. The hours before midnight are the most valuable for all of these processes, so go to bed just a little earlier!