There is a not so radical idea that is going around, and it is perfect for the New Year. The idea that we can create healthy lifestyles in our daily routines. I am not just talking about feeding and relaxing our bodies, but really taking it into our own hands. Most people think about at home healthcare in the scope of working out, eating well, reducing stress, and sleeping. While these are solid starting points (which I will be covering below) where exactly do we start. Health is something that everyone knows they want to incorporate into their lives, but seldom do people actually know how. Below I will be delving into each starting point and hopefully, giving you solid tips so you can succeed at incorporating it into your life.

Forewarning –

When it comes to a healthy lifestyle you are the one in charge. It really becomes a choice between what you want to accomplish and breaking through your habits. Most of us, myself included, have created unhealthy habits. From poor eating to sedentary lifestyles these are things that we have practiced day in and day out. Yes, practiced. There are a million reasons why we ended up where we are, though I would chalk most of it up to convenience. What is important to remember is this:

You are about to take on a whole new journey. You are going to be breaking through the limitations that you once set upon yourself. There will be days where it is easier than others. For the days that are hard, be gentle with yourself. Know that you are trying your best. One meal is just one meal. A day missed at the gym doesn’t have to become a week. The first day something gets hard doesn’t mean it is not right for you. If it important enough, you will keep trying. So, I encourage you to continue to practice, be patient with yourself and kind with your body.

Nutrition/Diet Therapy –

Diet has become a labyrinth. With all the research, articles, diets, and choices it is hard to navigate this world. There is huge diversity in what experts consider the ideal diet. Research supporting opposite ends of the spectrum abound, and yet, it works for some and not for others.

What we have to remember at all times, is that bodies are different. What works for one may not work for another. How do you find what works for you without the time suck of testing for yourself and possibly being wrong? Welcome to the biggest issue of the industry.

Usually you’ll find someone who is going to guide your food journey. They have a predetermined idea of what they think it best based on previous clients. And this style works for things like losing weight but is not the greatest for the total health of your body.

If for some reason, you have a sensitivity to something that you are consuming, either on your own or by someone else’s recommendation, then your body will find itself in a state of inflammation. As stated in an article on the Cleveland Clinics blog healthessentials:

“Inflammation occurs naturally in your body. But when if goes wrong of goes on too long, it can trigger disease processes. . . [U]ncontrolled inflammation plays a role in almost every major disease, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression.”

How then can you figure out the right diet for you? Get tested. Stop throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks. Get a blood test done and figure out exactly what it is that you should be avoiding so your body can heal. Decreasing and eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet if great for weight loss and total body wellness.

Massage –

Massage is no longer something that is just for the elite. Rather it is something that everyone can, and in my humble opinion should, take absolute advantage of to create their healthy lifestyle. There is nothing like a good massage. It may seem like a pamper or waste of money, but massage has a wide array of benefits.

Massage has been proven to have a positive effect treating:

  • Lower back pain
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia

As a supporting tool it can also help people dealing with:

  • Chronic diseases
  • Chronic muscle pains
  • Life threatening illnesses (e.g. cancer)

Other benefits include:

  • Stimulating on the lymphatic/immune system
  • Increases blood flow/circulation
  • Improved recovery of soft tissue injury
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Reduces depression
  • Improves overall sense of wellbeing

As a massage therapist, here are two things I would recommend figuring out before going to get a massage.

  1. Is your massage therapist good? Yes, this may seem obvious, but truly it is important. Nothing can ruin a massage like the lack of knowledge a massage therapist can have. The best way to know if a massage therapist is good, before seeing them, is getting a recommendation from a friend who likes the same style of massage that you do. Which leads me to point #2.
  2. What type of massage do you want? Depending on the outcome you are looking for you will want to find someone who specializes in that style. It usually goes like this:
    – Sports massage for injury or recovery
    – Swedish for relaxation and stress reduction
    – Deep tissue for people that are tight, carry a lot of tension, or deal with a lot of stress
    – Specialty therapists for specialty massages (e.g. craniosacral massage therapists for head issues, lymphatic drainage for someone dealing with immunes issues, etc.)

Move –

Think of this as the workout portion. Now most of us know that we should be working out and moving out bodies. It is a foundational piece for any healthy lifestyle. We know the amazing benefits of working out and if you don’t check out the awesome this awesome article written by Arlene Semeco. But still there is a huge issue with getting on and sticking to a consistent workout routine.

The number one complaint I used to hear as a personal trainer was that the gym wasn’t fun. Trust me, I get it. I worked at a gym, which made it convenient to workout but that didn’t mean that I necessarily wanted to do it. After I left my jo at the gym it became even harder to go. Eventually it became clear that I was no longer having fun. And there are few things more difficult to do then something that isn’t fun.

Sometimes I believe that there is a misconception that we have to go to the gym, pump iron, and that is what we consider working out. But just like the title of this section says all we really have to do it move. Moving can be as simple as going on a walk after dinner. We can pick up new interests and hobbies like I did with rock climbing and yoga. Even more than that, your movements can change throughout the year. In the summer you can do more hiking and outdoor activities, while your winter is filled with a new indoor class. If you are still at a loss for what you could do to move more, I would recommend reading this article by Alexa Tucker. It’s a super quick read with 25 different ways to move without a gym membership.

Sleep Practices –

Who doesn’t love sleep? I know I do. Unfortunately, a good night’s rest is no longer that common. Here are some simple tricks that I share with clients to help them create a healthy lifestyle and a better night’s sleep.

1. Get to bed around 9:30 – 10:00 pm
Going to sleep earlier is good for your body in a multitude of ways. It helps with beauty, weight, and energy to name a few. To understand more about these benefits read this article written by Hillary Quinn.

2. Adjust lights accordingly
Natural light changes throughout the day, from dawn to mid-day to dusk. If it is later in the day as the light is fading and we turn on the lights in our house, our bodies do not know the difference. If our lights are too bright then our bodies will regulate like it is still day. If you don’t have dimmers in your most commonly used rooms, I would recommend string lights. I have string lights in both my bedroom and my office as the house I am renting doesn’t have dimmers there.

3. Get off of screens an hour before bed
This one is really hard, especially since we usually use the telly and our phones to wind-down at night. Instead, try reading, playing a board/card game, or playing with pets.

4. Don’t take naps during the day
Now anyone who knows me may think I have gone crazy because I love naps. But if you are having a hard time getting to bed then not taking naps is a must. Napping during the day (especially the later part of the day) throws off your sleeping. You may be more restless and not be able to get as deep a sleep.

Meditation –

Every healthy lifestyle should include some sort of stress reduction. Meditating is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress. I know that the word meditation brings about images of someone on a mountain, sitting cross-legged for hours, chanting some mantra. But that is not what meditation is about. Instead think of meditation as little moments of quiet, you time. Meditation is meant to bring clarity, invite a breath in, giving space to the constant onslaught of information. It is here that we can set space for how we want the rest of the day to go. It doesn’t matter what time of day you choose to meditate, just that you do it when you need it. In a wonderful article written by Kristen Hedges she explains how every day practices can be the gateway to your meditation practice.

Posture Therapy –

We move in a lot of different ways and just like I stated above, we should. But here is the thing, we move very one sided. Think about walking, driving, sitting and pretty much every other activity. One side of our body is usually doing one thing while the other side is doing something completely different. While that is natural, due to bone structure, it does not have to be so varied. The discrepancy from one side to the other can lead to musculoskeletal pain as well as more prominent issues later on in life.

What posture therapy allows is a way to stimulate balance in the body through movement. Specific movement will create specific outcome. Posture therapy looks at your body as a whole and balances out the two halves of your body. It also makes sure that the front and back of your body are working better together.

Posture therapy has been known to help people out of some extremely difficult physical ailments simply by giving the body something different to adapt to. Because it is based on the body that we are seeing at the time of the session, it is personalized to your needs in the moment. I am biased towards posture therapy because it has helped me personally with my knee, hip, and shoulder pain as well as migraine headaches. My mother had degenerative disc disease in her lumbar spine, and she was able to heal her own body in a matter of 6 weeks, keeping her from getting surgery.

Conclusion –

This series has had one goal – to help you become aware of what you can do/who you can talk to to help you with you maintain your health. In Part 1we went over the basics of the medical system and what their intended jobs are. In Part 2 we looked towards the East and introduced you to  Traditional Chinese Medicine. Here, in Part 3 we have looked at many different ways to truly take health into your own hands.

It is my hope that you feel empowered. Empowered to look for help in the right places and to be open to all of the ways that you can get a different result with a different approach. Empowered to create a healthy lifestyle in the way that makes the most sense for you.