One of the hardest parts of jumping on the health bandwagon (ah yes, the "I'd rather live to a ripe and happy old age" bandwagon) is how freaking difficult it is to revolutionize a routine. It's important that your health routine is sustainable - I know I've burned out on intense routines more than once.
This is the first post in a series of three. I'll be looking at actual, effective ways to boost your spiritual, mental, and physical health. The three are absolutely tied together; there is no question about that, and several items on the three lists could be switched from one list to another. However, this list focuses on things with direct health benefits - after all, it's hard to feel happy or in touch with the universe when you feel like crap. That being said, here are ten things physical health, and none of them take more than five minutes to complete. Add one or two per week to your routine and see which ones are most effective for you.
1. Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
Remember, you don't drink water while you sleep - that's between six to eight hours of no water intake. By drinking water when you first wake up, you gently let your metabolism and digestive system know that it's daytime and there are things to do. This article recommends that you drink 16 ounces of water first thing, but if that feels intimidating, start with eight ounces and move up. I tend to drink 12 ounces in the morning, but again, it's about doing what you can manage and what you can introduce to your routine without going insane.
2. Hit your daily recommended water intake for your weight and lifestyle.
There's this app called Plant Nanny that a friend introduced me to, and it calculates the exact amount of water you need to drink per day and helps you track your intake. I already did the google search, and it is completely okay to count juice and tea in your water intake. Alcohol and soda DO NOT count, and research is indicating that coffee is probably hydrating you more than it is dehydrating you. However, just to be safe, I don't add coffee into my water intake tracking. I take a very "add things, don't remove things" approach to health most of the time. If you make sure to drink enough water every day, and you still feel thirsty enough to have a soda, go ahead. Reasonably speaking, I rarely do. Usually, if I have a soda, I don't hit my water amount. There just isn't enough time in the day for all that liquid.
3. Green tea (and also peppermint tea).
I'm saying this just in case you haven't heard, but green tea is incredibly good for you. As far as health foods go, it is incredibly easy to integrate into a routine, and since tea counts toward your daily water amount, it can serve at just about any meal. Peppermint is good for nausea and upset stomach in general, but drinking it regularly will help with digestion overall. Right now, I use peppermint essential oil, but that stuff is expensive. Start with the tea, and if it helps, feel free to move up to the strong stuff.
4. Drink hot or lukewarm liquids at meals instead of cold ones.
Remember, tea is hot leaf water. There are significant health benefits to drinking hot water in general, but it is especially helpful at meals. Run an experiment: eat a meal with an iced, wait a couple days, and eat the same meal with a hot tea. You'll almost certainly feel better at the end of the meal with the hot drink. To be honest, I don't do this at every meal, but I do it at least with breakfast and often with lunch and dinner. Introduce it to your routine and see if it helps.
5. Apple cider vinegar shots.
The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are everywhere online; it's an ultra trendy super-food. What I can say is that it has helped immensely with my nausea. I used to be nauseated EVERY DAY after breakfast. I started taking a couple teaspoons or so of ACV in a shot glass with the first bite of breakfast, and BOOM. Nausea gone. If you can't stand the taste, you can also dilute it with water or tea. I prefer to take the shot and chase it.
6. Sing-Along Stretch Time.
There are yoga instructors and truly healthy people who happily stretch for half an hour every single day. I am not one of those people. However, I do stretch every day. My stretching tip: figure out your problem areas and stretch for the length of one or two of your favorite songs. I simply don't wake up early enough to stretch for half an hour every day, but I can always, always find four to six minutes. Play some music and stretch yourself out a bit. Increase the time as needed.
7. Eat fruit/drink fruit smoothies apart from meals.
Here's a dirty little health secret: fruit is not digested particularly well when paired with most other foods. There is a lovely article explaining the whole shabang of the matter, but long story short: you get more nutrients from eating fruit on an empty stomach than you do when you eat fruit at a meal. That also means smoothies are a great mid-morning snack. Basically, instead of eating the fruit you already eat with lunch at lunch time, eat it between breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner. Your body will give you a huge high-five.
8. Drink a glass of water half an hour before eating.
Again, drinking water before you eat helps prep your body for digesting without sending the poor thing into shock when you dump a burger and milkshake into your innocent tummy.
9. Pair your foods wisely.
This is closely related to number 7. Basically, the enzymes needed to break down certain foods are counteracted, or benefited, by other enzymes or nutrients. A great list of foods that pair well for nutrition's sake is found here. For those of you who are not link-clickers, three of the pairings are roast vegetables and olive oil, steak and broccoli, and salmon and kale.
10. Use non-antibacterial soap.
Have you ever wondered which germ is left when 99.9% are dead? It's the strong one. The strongest germ. Your body will thank you if you cut down on antibacterial products, ESPECIALLY with kids. By allowing contact with some germs , you teach your body to fight off infections. Of course, there are infections that need to be vaccinated against, but most ordinary troubles (like common colds) can be resisted naturally by antibodies. Plus, back in 2014, the FDA released a statement saying antibacterial soap is no more effective than traditional soap and water; plus, you can kill bacteria and viruses with products containing alcohol much more effectively. You can find more info here.
So there you have it! Ten easy things that won't cause too much strain on your time or wallet. Let me know what you think in the comments!