Many years ago I started on this quest for health and happiness, and naturally started from the outside in, because that is what our culture focuses on. Look good, feel good, right? So I educated myself on nutrition and exercise and made the changes that led to a huge shift in how I looked and how I felt. But, that didn’t solve all of my problems. (huge shocker!) So I went deeper, and kept seeking more strategies and more shifts to find true health and happiness. And, I found it, and that is why now I write and share all that I share. But this past week I spent time with a friend who has been hugely supportive with all of my work and we started talking about some of the fitness and nutrition shifts I have been making lately that have upped my game even more and she said “THIS is what I want to hear you talking about!” So, this week’s blog is going back to the basics. Eat real food, get good sleep, exercise every day, meditate every day.
First, the food. We NEED good, real, varied nutrition. I have come to believe that it is even more important to make sure that we get it, than it is to cut out the crap that we eat. Yes, we want to stop eating crap, but it is easier to do that once we are getting proper nourishment, and no matter what, we need to make sure that we are getting high quality nutrition regularly if we want to be healthy. First, focus on that. Every day I eat at least four cups of leafy greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens), plus a bunch of seeds (corriander, who knew?!), celery, cucumber, avocado… I blend it and drink it as breakfast/lunch and BOOM, no matter what, I get tons of veggies each day. I try to make sure that everything I eat is as fresh and local as possible because the longer the veggies are in transit, the more nutrition they lose. I pay attention to what I choose to eat through out the day to make sure it is as nutritious and varied as possible. We need real, nutritiously dense food. Without it, our body won’t be healthy for the long term. And, the cool thing is, if we are properly hydrated and nourished, we won’t be craving food the way we are used to. Emotional eating is a lot less impactful when your other hungers are satiated (curious about the types of hunger? Check out this blog.)
Second, sleep. We NEED enough consistent high quality sleep or we will not be healthy long term, nor at our best day to day. Do what you need to do to make that happen. It is vital. Learn more about how light and screens affect our sleep — consider a digital sunset where you turn off devices (including the tv!). Check out this quick video on Sea Turtles and Sleep from Brian Johnson.
Third, exercise every day. The basic principle is this: use it or lose it. If we do not use our neuromuscular system, we will lose our neuromuscular system. (that is our brain/nervous system and muscles — being able to move in layman speak) We need to move our bodies and we need to do it consciously (goals!) or we won’t be getting the benefits — and the benefits are vast and WORTH IT. I’ve been really focused on fitness for about 8 years now, first getting myself in shape after having Jesse, then enthusiastically taking it to a pretty advanced level, becoming a personal trainer and helping others reach their goals, then transitioning out of being a physical trainer to work on the inner transformation work that I really feel is my calling. But even though I am not training clients that often these days, I am still training myself and taking my fitness to higher levels with less time invested. I used to spend 4-6 hours a day working out in some way, and loved every minute of it. But I have other things that I want to prioritize, and I don’t want to compromise my fitness level. So, I have been focused on the minimum effective dose of the various exercises and activities to maintain my fitness in the minimal amount of time. I strength train, do HIIT, yoga, stretch and foam roll, run and bike every week in a systematic way to maximize my results. I set it in my calendar and just do it, whether I feel like it or not. And I get coached to make sure I keep getting better. Curious what my coach and I went through this week? Check out his write up on exercise vs. physical activity.
Fourth, meditate every day. It is like flossing, but for your brain. Meditation is the quickest most effective way to build mindfulness, and mindfulness is what gives us the power to respond to life, instead of being stuck reacting. It is taking back control of your life, instead of letting life control you. I am not going to beat this to death. If you aren’t meditating, start. Just do a simple 1 minute meditation like this one. Everyone can do one minute.
So these are the basics, every day. These are priorities, these are what I have made habits, so I don’t even need to think about them. I save my decision making power for creative pursuits, instead of being stuck working on the foundational building blocks. And without a strong foundation, we are not going to be able to build a truly great life.