Optimal wellness isn’t a destination, it is a journey. We are all on a journey to feeling our best. Sometimes it flows easily and we are thriving, sometimes it ebbs and we feel yucky, but it always keeps going. No matter what stage your journey is in, there are always things you can do to help you get closer to the path of optimal wellness and feel great.
When I am meeting with clients, there are a handful of things I almost always recommend they start with. In fact, they are often recommendations I make before we even close out their first appointment. They are that helpful! And they are things many people overlook.
Below you will find my top four recommendations for optimal wellness. If you are currently ebbing and feeling yucky, start with one and do it every day for one week before adding another in. If you are currently flowing and thriving, feel free to start with one or multiple, just make sure you do them every day.
Tip #1 – Make Meal Times as Chill as Possible
So many of us live our lives in sympathetic-dominant mode; in other words, we are constantly in “fight-or-flight”, stressed out of our minds with too much going on and too little true rest. When our sympathetic state has taken over, lots of our normal bodily processes take a back seat to our body’s need to keep us safe. This means things like our digestive processes are not running optimally.
If we can take a few moments to relax and shift into a parasympathetic-dominant state, we enter “rest-and-digest”. All of our systems start to work properly again and our digestion gets the chance to do it’s job correctly. In this state, our bodies can easily recognize the food in our mouth and begin to create adequate stomach acid and other digestive juices. Our small and large intestines can relax and absorb the nutrients from our food so they can go to good use.
Before sitting down to eat, put yourself into a calm and happy mindset. Put on some music you love, dance a little bit, or just smile big and think grateful thoughts. Whatever helps you relax. Sit down with your food, smell it and look at it. Yummy, right? Say grace or think about how grateful you are for the meal in front of you.
Take a bite and smile. I bet it’s delicious! Set your utensil down. Savor your bite. Chew it thoroughly; each bite should turn into a smoothie before it is swallowed. This lets your food mingle with all the wonderful enzymes in your saliva and helps it to break down through the mechanical process of chewing. Swallow, then pick up your utensil and go for it again.
This is the number one thing I recommend to my clients because it really works. It may seem silly, but try it for a few days and see how you feel! It can make a massive difference in your digestive capability.
Tip #2 – Eat a Big Breakfast & Make It Savory
If we set ourselves up for success early in the day, we will almost always have the motivation to continue. This is why eating a big savory breakfast is so important. Not only does it satiate you, but it also works to regulate your blood sugar so that you don’t get on the rollercoaster that leads to cravings and grumpy afternoons.
When we wake up tired and shove coffee or sugary sweet donuts into our bodies, it kicks our blood sugar way up, causing tons of unnecessary stress and leading to a crash within a few hours. This crash leads to “hangry” cravings for sugar or an afternoon coffee and often some poor dietary choices. This leads to another crash later in the day, cake for dinner, and then falling into bed for some rickety sleep where we wake during the night, leading to another tired morning. Do you see the cycle here?
Starting with a big savory breakfast sets you up to avoid that initial crash, which makes your day go more smoothly and allows your sleep-wake hormones to cycle properly for a good night of sleep.
My two favorite breakfasts:
– two eggs, a slice of bacon, a slice of sourdough toast with butter, and a glass of orange juice
– four cubed gelatin juice gummies, a jerky stick of some kind, and a thick slice of raw cheddar cheese
Did you notice that I didn’t include coffee? That’s right! If I have coffee, I make it a treat for after breakfast. I aim to eat within 30-45 minutes of waking, then make my coffee after I put my dirty dish away. This ensures your body is nourished before adding the stress element of caffeine. I personally love Purity Coffee for the quality. Alternatively, I love Rasa adaptogenic tea for a boost of adaptogens. When I start my day with a big savory breakfast, I often don’t need (or even want) coffee because my energy is already high.
Tip #3 – Move Your Body Every. Single. Day.
Movement is essential for your overall wellbeing. I’m sure you have heard this a million times, but has it clicked yet? We all have what I love to call a “stress bucket” that holds all our stressors.
Things that stress you out fill it up; noise that destroys our concentration, kids that won’t quit, traffic, taxes, life stuff, and even things like food sensitivities and environmental toxins. Things that help you recharge will help to empty your stress bucket; deep breathing, reading, quiet time, sleep, hugs or cuddling, petting your furry friend, whatever helps you relax and smile.
One of the most effective ways to help empty your stress bucket is through intentional exercise or movement. The good news is this doesn’t have to look like an hour at the gym! Movement counts, whatever it may be.
Here are some ideas:
– typical exercise, like weight training, yoga, pilates, spin class, HIIT, etc
– walking of any kind, anywhere, for any length of time
– dancing to your favorite music; in my house we do this often
– cleaning the house thoroughly; bending, walking, scrubbing, etc
– gardening or yard work, like pulling weeds, mowing grass, planting, etc
– actively playing with your kids (or furry kids)
– park as far away from your destination as possible and walk
– take the stairs or the long way, skip the easy route
– try to be a busy person; don’t quit moving unless you truly need a rest
If you have a desk job, I see you. It can be tough to make movement a part of your day, but it is possible. Park at the end of your work parking lot or even down the street, walk around the building on your breaks, be the person who makes the coffee run and go inside instead of using the drive through, and definitely move intentionally before and after work.
Tip #4 – Drink Your Body Weight in Ounces of Clean Water With Electrolytes
A hydrated body is a working, happy, energetic body. I know you have heard it before, but our bodies are mostly water, and that means we cannot live without it. Keeping your body well-hydrated means all your organs are functioning as intended, essential bodily fluids are being made, nutrients are making their way to your cells, and food is being digested properly.
Clean water is key here to ensure you aren’t ingesting yucky toxins every time you take a sip. Unfiltered tap water contains heavy metals, antibiotics, fluoride, chlorine, pathogens, and more than you can even imagine. If you are interested in seeing what your local tap water contains, head over to the EWG’s Tap Water Database and enter your home zip code. I can assure you that you’re in for a surprise!
There are lots of great ways to get clean water, so choose your favorite option. There’s filtered tap water to start, bottled water, water machines at most grocery stores and even Walmart, local springs, and more. Filtered water from your tap can often be the most accessible and affordable, so start there if you are limited by budget.
We have this affordable tap filter, and we are currently saving up for this better portable system. There are some great counter-top filters, like AquaTru, ProOne, and Berkey, although they can be an investment. Do the best you can with what you have available to you. The goal is progress, not perfection. Find the best filter you can afford that, at minimum, filters out chlorine and heavy metals. Carbon filters are generally more affordable and can be very effective when used as intended.
Once your water is clean, then you’ll want to add in some electrolyte minerals. This does not look like adding Gatorade as a daily beverage. It is as easy as adding a small pinch of sea salt to each glass of water. We use Redmond Real Salt, which is super cheap and high quality. If you’re only adding a small pinch, you should not notice the taste of your water change. If you’re looking for something a bit more, we alternate with Trace Minerals Research Concentrace drops 1-2 times per week.
Adding electrolyte minerals to your water will ensure you don’t lose minerals that flush out in normal water loss during urination. It also helps water uptake by supplying your cells many of the trace minerals they need, and helps your body create essential enzymes that do pretty much everything in your body. They will also keep you from heading to the bathroom every 20 minutes when you start drinking more water. In short, they are super important.
The Dirty Truth About Optimal Wellness
The truth about the tips above is that they are just the beginning. If your goal is to feel better, these will be great jumpstarts. Keep your momentum going by adding in more healthy habits little by little.
Optimal wellness is a journey. It takes a lot of work to feel really wonderful all the time, and even then we all have bad days. If you are ready to move to the next level, consider working with me and starting Nutritional Therapy. I would love to chat with you about your health goals!