Building blocks of a healthier life
Our health is so important and it can change so rapidly. There are a plethora of small things that you can do to positively transition your well-being and your lifestyle effectively. The little things really do add up! Before you know it they can create a snowball effect in your life and you will find yourself doing things you never thought possible! Activity, mindfulness, nutrition, and sleep are four crucial aspects of our lives that are essential for good health, a sense of well-being, and a well balanced life.
“A body in motion tends to stay in motion (Newton’s First Law of Motion).” Staying active is a huge part of staying healthy, it is a great stress buster. The health benefits are endless. Being physically active and exercising can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis and falls. Activity and exercise helps boost your energy. Who couldn’t use more energy? Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance and keep you from getting depressed.
Having a rough day? Or feeling down? A quick brisk walk, yoga, Pilates, stretching, hiking, or a gym session can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. When your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores and have more energy to devote to your hobbies and family. Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
Get out in your Growing Dome or outdoor garden. Gardening in particular is associated with mental clarity and feelings of reward, and it has many physical benefits as well. You can burn an extra 200-600 calories an hour!
Don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day, take the stairs, walk to work or on your lunch. Stand at your desk, park further away at the grocery store, take your dog for a walk, play a game outside with the kids, get involved in a sport. Try coaching, yoga, gardening, or walk to get your mail, ride your bike, or rev up your household chores and organize the clutter. Get a fitness app on your phone to try to beat your goal from the day before. Consistency is key. Doing these little things will add up quickly and you will notice a difference in little to no time.
In our busy everyday lives it’s important to take time to slow down, breathe, observe our surroundings, be in the moment. Many of us find ourselves rushing through, trying to get as much done as possible. We are hard-wired for stress, and often feel overwhelmed and rushed to get things done. We switch gears back and forth endlessly and push ourselves to unhealthy limits. Then we wonder why we feel chronic fatigue, stress, sleeplessness, and have a lack of focus. We go on a type of autopilot and that creates haste and chronic health issues. By definition, mindfulness is a practice achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. It is a practice of simply stepping back and observing.
We have found that there are many things we can do to increase our mindfulness, our well-being, and focus. Regularly taking a couple minutes out of your day to breathe and meditate will make a noticeable difference. It increases focus, attention, helps us to slow down, be in the moment, and make better decisions. We have found it helpful in personal expression, communication, and even our ability to be empathetic. See the video below for some brief information and the basics of practicing mindfulness.
***Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the research-backed stress-reduction program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), explains how mindfulness lights up parts of our brains that aren’t normally activated when we’re mindlessly running on autopilot.
Taking time to enjoy a healthy meal and beverage increases your mindfulness. It is nurturing to enjoy your food, taking time to chew, sitting down, and drinking water keeps you from over eating. Food is about nourishment, it gives us the energy we need to sustain our lives. Be mindful about what you are putting into your body.
Another suggestion is yoga and stretching. This helps improve our mind-body connection and helps us feel more focused, grounded, and connected to our body and even the earth.
Utilize the features in place on your phone such as health and activity apps to monitor and be mindful of your targeted activity. Many watches and phones remind us to take a minute to breathe and stand when we have been sitting. These little reminders are a good way to start transitioning your habits. Before you know it you will be doing these things without thinking about them.
We suggest taking some time alone, gardening, enjoy a hot soak, go for a drive, get a massage on occasion or have some body work done; anything to decompress, set aside time for yourself, and find some solitude. Not only will these things help you to relax, you may connect with yourself on a new level. Many people find that their Growing Dome is a sanctuary, a great place to unwind, and relax.
“Food is fuel”. “Food is medicine”. “You are what you eat”. We have heard these things before. That is because they are true. What we put into our bodies is what we get out of our bodies, tried and true. When you put junk in your body you get that out of your body. You will feel sluggish, tired, bogged down, and you will keep craving those foods. When we eat healthy, fresh, nutrient dense/rich, unprocessed foods we run clean. Our bodies thank us! In return we have a much higher supply of energy. We also feel better about ourselves, have less illness, and can maintain a healthy weight. A great way to start your day is with fresh lemon water, it jump starts your digestive system, helps you to detoxify, and provides antioxidants.
Proper nutrition increases blood flow to your brain, protecting brain cells, and helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. For a brain healthy diet, avoid fried foods and favor baked, steamed and grilled foods. Also, eat dark fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, prunes, raisins, blueberries, raspberries, plums and cherries. Almonds, walnuts, pecans and other nuts are great sources of vitamin E, which along with other vitamins, also help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Try transitioning to a plant based diet. You’ll love it, it will challenge you to diversify your cooking skills, and your body will thank you. Here is one way to help transition to a plant based diet from our friend and Chef Tess Challis.
There are endless benefits to eating a healthy diet. Not only will you feel amazing and younger, it is also better for the planet. Here are 57 ways a plant based diet is beneficial to your health.
Gardening can particularly gratifying and an excellent source of fresh produce. From soil preparation to the joy of harvesting, there is always a task, big or small, during the growing season! If you have ever spent a summer gardening, you know that these tasks can serve as great exercise.
Everyone knows how essential good sleep is. We try to get 8 hours sleep every night, in theory. It sounds easy enough, but we are not always able to do that, as simple as it may sound. Getting enough rest is a key part to good health and well-being. It is also vital in keeping your energy and focus at tip top.
Napping during the day may provide a boost in alertness and performance. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep-wake rhythm.
Use the hour before bed for quiet time, avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
Avoid heavy and/or large meals and alcohol within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Avoid caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
Spending time outside every day, getting fresh air, and being physically active helps you to sleep better at night. Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed). Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques or meditation before bed.
We see that balance is key to maintaining our health, happiness, and well-being. Finding and sharing ways to live life to its fullest, making the most of our time here on earth, and sharing what we have to offer with others and the planet is essential to our well-being. It also helps us fulfill our purposes. We hope this will be helpful and easy to integrate in your journey to a happier healthier life!