5 Min ReadHealth 30 December 2019
As humans, with the curiosity to learn and the drive to create + experience, we can nourish our minds, souls, and bodies to the fullest extent possible. Yet recently, and especially within the wellness space, we have exploited the notion of balance. We've created conflicting diets, programs, and trends that tell you to eat "x" and avoid "y" at all costs. It can leave us obsessive, anxious, frustrated, or shameful. We forget the power of food as medicine and turn it into a way to look our best
After years of trying various different diet plans out there and being vegan for 2 years, healthy or "clean" eating to me looks like enjoying beautiful, wholesome foods that you actually look forward to and completely S A V O R. It's developing an active and healthy intuition-based relationship with food. It's being able to listen to your body and eat what you know your body wants. When we eat from a place of love - a love for the food itself and the experience of eating or sharing a meal - we are so much more able to give our body exactly what it needs.
The idea of having "balance" can be overused and lose its potency. It's a beautiful notion, but if we obsess over the purpose of maintaining a perfect balance in everything we do, we set ourselves up to fail. We're never going to obtain balance, but if we can decide to show up as we are then, we're able to rise and meet our highest self. Balance is eating a leafy, veggie-rich salad because your body hasn't had greens in a while; it's also enjoying a decadent cup of hot cocoa while snuggled up on the couch with your family. Finding balance and tapping into your intuition is never fear-based or controlling, it's listening inward and following mindful food choices that lead to a strong sense of what works for YOUR body and eventually leads to your everyday reality.
Clean eating and maintaining balance comes from following your intuition and cultivating a healthy relationship with food.
You have to determine what works for YOU and you alone. Each meal is a gift and energy you have the opportunity to create. Give yourself forgiveness and release any guilt you have around food. Choose to rediscover your body through food.
Tips For Maintaining Balance + Eating Clean In 2020
● Keep a food journal. Start with 3 days and write down everything you eat and how you felt after. After three days, notice if any patterns or observations that come up. Every food has a different energy and responds to your unique body differently.
● Each meal is an opportunity to start fresh. Say, for example, there's a night where you had bowl after bowl of ice cream, and you end of feeling a wash of shame over it (as we so often do when it comes to what we eat). Instead, tell yourself that you can start the day fresh tomorrow with a nutrient-dense brekkie. We can always begin again. A bump along the way is just that — a bump — not a detour.
● Practice gratitude. While you're preparing your food or during a meal, find gratitude in the practice of fueling your body with the bounty given us here on the planet. Listen to soulful music that brings you happiness and makes you want to dance as you pour love into your meal.
● Similarly, try to prepare your own food as often as you can! You're so much more intentional in what you eat when you make a dish yourself and know what ingredients are going directly into your body. This will also give you the opportunity to make more health-conscious substitutions. For example, if you're gluten-free and the recipe calls for flour, you can sub a wheat-free, nutrient-dense flour.
● Allow yourself a treat every once in a while! It's a source of pleasure and a way to let go. There are 365 days in a year, and if we commit to fueling and nourishing our body then there are definitely times here and there when we can enjoy the birthday cake, cookies, fries, etc. that feel GOOD at that moment.
● Create a clean food kitchen. Toss out anything processed, anything with high fructose corn syrup, anything with gluten, and anything that you question whether it's healthy or not. Don't be afraid to let it go, I promise you you can always find it again at the store if you MUST have it.
● Don't worry so much about calories [that's so 1990's! ]but instead about nutrients. If you eat nutrient-dense foods, you will be full and satiated for longer. The rule of thumb when you're eating is to think about NUTRIENTS, not just energy/calories. Ask yourself what NUTRIENTS are in your meal, not just putting empty calories into your body. For example, when reaching for a snack, don't eat 5 rice crackers because they are low in calories, eat an apple, and a handful of almonds because then you're getting vitamins, fiber, protein, and good fats (and you'll stay fuller longer!).
This article was originally posted December 30, 2019.
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With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.