Get more sleep. After a very short period of time (about 6 nights), studies show that your glucose levels can rise if you get only 4 to 7 hours of sleep each night. New parents are excluded, but everyone else should try to hit the 8 hour mark as often as you can and get to bed BEFORE midnight. Every hour of rest before 12 a.m. is twice as valuable as the hours after midnight: Our cortisol levels are lowest before midnight therefore our recovery is the highest.
Eat fewer refined and processed foods. Avoid fast and fried food and try to consume as many real foods as you can. It’s also imperative to get enough fiber (helps with elimination); fruits and veggies are a great way to fill up.
Avoid sugary drinks and reach for more water. Water is great for so many things like digestion, eliminating toxins in the body, and transporting important nutrients to our cells which need energy to burn calories. Americans drink 20% of their calories, so be careful of that silent pitfall.
Get to know your kitchen. I realize it takes more work, but the simple truth is we eat out or order in too often. There is a greater opportunity to control what is in your food if you cook it yourself.
Slow down. When you do sit down to a meal, don’t woof it down. Our culture encourages eating while driving or sitting at our desks. The only time we seem to sit down and enjoy our food is at Thanksgiving. The monks chew each bite of food 100 times (which is excessive), but they also eat only until they are full. They recognize that chewing their food more makes it easier for the body to digest.
Breathe. There are so many days that I don’t breathe deeply. In the morning, mid-afternoon, and at the end of the day take 10 conscious, belly-deep breaths. Close your eyes, pull that air deep into your stomach via your nose and let all the junk out through your mouth. Whether it’s a stressful day, or you just want to start and end your day on the right foot, breathing is important.
Don’t starve yourself. Oddly enough some of you may not be eating enough, and the lack of calories is putting your body into save mode. Our bodies are so brilliant, and if they aren’t getting enough food, your metabolism will tell your body to store each and every calorie it receives or to make energy from whatever muscle tissue you have. Not good. Oh and by the way, don’t skip breakfast. People who skip breakfast are over 4 times more likely to be overweight.
Do more than exercise. Even if you are working out, you can’t eat and drink whatever you want. It really is a three sided puzzle: balancing exercise, food, and (oh yes) the spirit (which stress and happiness play into).
I wish you the greatest of success, and remember, being healthy is like making your bed. It really is something we have to work at everyday.