The 10 Most Important Things You Can Do for Lasting Health
The Ten Most Important Things You Will Ever Do to Create Vibrant, Lasting Health
Yesterday on a long rode ride, it all clicked. I've been fastidiously studying health and well-being for half my life--16 years! I've learned a lot, most of it only provided a steeping stone for further, deeper knowledge. What have I learned on this journey? Well, keep reading (hint, its all free).
I've put together this list which I'm calling "The Ten Most Important Things You Will Ever Do to Create Vibrant, Lasting Health." What's more, each of these steps is immediately accessible by EVERYONE. EVERYONE can start them today! And they're all free. Here goes (keep in mind that there are many, many additions, but this is my top ten):
- Sleep regularly, and sleep for eight hours a night (preferable, go to bed before midnight). Many sleep researchers believe that regular sleep patterns are actually more important than the amount of sleep we get. I don't 100% agree with this, but I do agree with establishing healthy patterns and sticking to them. What's more, we produce the highest levels of the important hormone melatonin between the hours of 10 pm and midnight. Not only does this hormone make us sleepy and fall asleep easily, but it also allows the body to enter deep, restorative NREM sleep, where healing and repair happen;
- Drink water, now drink more water. Repeat. If you get bored with all the water, add fresh lemon or lime juice. Not only is our body made up mostly of water, but we require water for many physiological processes to happen. For just one small example, thing of the pancreas which must produce 2 liters of digestive juices daily. And that's just one example! Many studies have been down showing how daytime fatigue is actually just dehydration. Water, is really is natures energy drink. So drink up;
- Get a suntan (you do this by going--and spending time--outside). Spending time outside will have many benefits, and a tan makes everyone look good. If you're outside, than chances are you will have higher levels of Vitamin D, which is a master hormone in the body, vital for immune health, cancer prevention, and healthy levels of sex hormones. More and more research is coming out daily as to the benefits of Vitamin D, but do yourself a favor, and get it from the sun when you can. If you are outside, chances are you are moving, too, which is number 4 on this list. If you can get outside in nature (as opposed to a city scape), then you are also involved with number 6 on this list. Lastly, there is a non-quantifiable element to spending time in the sun--it just makes you feel good and healthy. And that's enough reason for me;
- Move every single day. Walking, running, swimming, Jazzercise (do people still do that?)...I'm not worried about the type of moving you are doing, just that it is happening. I don't need to tell you that its good for you to move, you already know that, so go outside (if you can) and get moving. If not, try simple yoga and stretching exercises at home, there are many good free videos on-line. Body weight workouts are great cardiovascular and strength training exercises, and can be done at home for free;
- Eat one huge salad a day. All of it raw. Make a meal of it. I like to eat one huge salad a day, completely raw, for one meal, with as many things in it as possible, striving for a full color spectrum. Something you might want to include in your salad is a mix from a local farm with different lettuces, beet greens, chard greens, and other greens you might not normally eat. Shredded beets and carrots are great in salads, as are cucumbers. Eat bright colors with added bell peppers and fruit. I love berries in my salads. For dressing, I like to use Dijon mustard for a dressing. Experiment and have fun;
- Take time daily to look at nature. As a culture, we are disconnected from nature, and this disconnection is just beginning to reveal its consequences in our lives and in our society. You have probably seen a young child observe the natural world with the highest level of curiosity, wonder, and awe. Sadly, that curiosity, wonder, and awe is lost for many in adulthood. Try to regain that wonder by taking time every day to observe the natural world all around us;
- Listen to music as much as possible (also, turn off the news and talk radio). We are all suffering from information overload, which in my opinion is--ironically enough--actually causing many of us to know less and less. What's more, music brings joy and connectedness into our lives--something that is largely missing. Undo this trend by turning off the TV and the talk radio, and putting some favorite tunes on. Want to discover new music, use pandora.com. There are very few things which will have such an immediate mood boosting effect as turning on music will. Try it;
- Cut out all added sugar and artificial sweeteners for one day a week. Then two, then three, stop at seven. We all know how bad sugar is for us (its actually a lot worse than that), but it is hard for many people to cut out all the added sugar from their diets. What's more is that our tastes are bombarded with sweet, which dulls our ability to taste how delicious natural, unadulterated foods are. The key to success with eradicating sugar is to start small. Do it for one day a week. Then two days a week. Keep on adding a day until you hit seven! Want more motivation: every teaspoon of sugar we eat depresses our immune system for 4 hours. Ward of the colds and flues that many get by going sugar free, and supercharge your immune system.
- What goes in must come out. Strive for 2-3 healthy eliminations a day. Less=blockage. Blockage=bad. The average American poops (yes, I just said poops) once every three days. And who wants to be average? Not me. Not you. Think about it in terms of what goes in must come out. If you are not regular, staying hydrated (see above number 2) and eating more fiber (see above number 5) will help turn your digestion up a notch. It might seem a little excessive at first if you fall in the average American range, but when you increase how often you are using the bathroom for a number 2, you will feel, without exaggeration, 500 times better;
- Gratitude. Daily. Hold it in your heart, even if it feels awkward at first. You'll get the hang of it. Think of it as appreciation and love. In Classical Chinese Medicine, the most important organ is the heart. Keep your heart healthy by practicing what its made for: gratitude. By spending sometime daily practicing gratitude, not only will we become more appreciative of the world and people around us, but we will learn more about what makes us tick--what makes us happy. By learning this, we will be in a much better position to foster those things in our lives which we are grateful for. Many people do not have a lot of experience with practicing gratitude, and that is OK. Life is for learning and for practicing.
- (Bonus) Visualize. Spend time every single day visualizing whatever it is you want to embody. Tired of your pimples, visualize your clear skin. Tired for being too tired to exercise, visualize exercising. Visualization is not the stuff of new age books and movies, it is actually what sets us apart as humans from other animals. We can run through new, novel possibilities in our mind before we actually do them. Spending time everyday visualizing and imagining is huge. Don't let kids be the only ones who get to do this!
Of course, there are many, many
important things that are not including on this list. Them not being included
does not mean I don't think they are important or worthwhile. If you have
something you want to add, share your knowledge by leaving a comment below.
Other will read it a
and appreciate all the information.