Yes, I'm doing one of those cliche New Year's blog posts.
Announcements for the new year are all over Facebook and countless blogs and articles. New year, new you! Goals, resolutions, things to leave behind, new habits to consider, out with the old and in with the new. And I'm joining the bandwagon and doing one of them. How unoriginal of me! You know why though, it's because we secretly love these things! We love to read these obvious, commonplace articles and feel good about ourselves, saying "I love that idea! I can do that!" Because sometimes, we have the idea or the notion, and when we can find it validated somewhere, it gives us the motivation to get up and DO SOMETHING! So here you go ... I will try to be as original as possible ;)
4 Tips for a Vibrant New You!
1. Drink More Water
Really, THAT'S #1, water?!?!?! Yes, and I will tell you why. We are not drinking enough water. We are not drinking enough PURE water. Bottled water is not pure (with very few exceptions), tap water is certainly not pure. Filtered water is the closest we can get, but most filters only take out chlorine and very few heavy metals. Our municipal water is gross, it really is. It's full of chemicals, toxins, residual medication and even hormones. Authorities insist that it's "safe". Nothing about drinking someone else's anti-depressant medication that has run off from their urine sounds safe to me! Don't believe me? Check out this USA Today article.
I highly recommend a good filter. I use the Nikken aqua-pour filter and I like it. I have also looked in to Berkey filters and will probably get one in the near future because they filter out chlorine, heavy metals and fluoride. If you are going to drink bottled water, alkaline water is best. Essentia or Penta water is really good. I like Penta because when you get a case it's in a box, not wrapped with plastic. That way sunlight does not hit the bottles, which causes chemicals to leach in to the water when the plastic heats up.
Try drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day. If you weigh 160lbs, you'd drink 80 oz of water a day. Try drinking a gallon every day for a week. You will feel amazing!! Use a glass or stainless steel bottle too, no plastic. Not even BPA free plastic is good. Say no to plastic! But say yes to drinking more water!
Um yeah, again I already breathe because I'm sitting here reading this and I'm alive!! Well, you might be breathing but you're probably coming up short on BREATHING. What's the difference? I can tell you that in my experience as a footzonologist, I have discovered that not many of us are using our lungs to full capacity, or even half capacity. Our breath keeps us alive, so lets learn how to do it right. Shallow breathing actually depletes the body of oxygen. Slow, deep breathing does the opposite, it increases oxygen in our body. Oxygen helps us alkalize, and we've all heard that cancer cannot exist in an oxygenated environment. Just something to think about.
So how do I start deep breathing? You've probably done it after holding your breath for a while without noticing. It takes a lot more than that, however. If you've gone to a yoga class, there is always breath work, or pranayama. It feels invigorating and energizing. I highly recommend trying it, even if it's a free yoga class on you tube. There is a foundation called The Art of Living where you can take a course in breath work and mindfulness. They teach classes in over 150 different countries that focus on breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and practical wisdom for daily living. I don't know much more about it, but those who I have met who have participated in the classes say they are life changing. I'm participating in one in January, so I'll share my experience soon!
If you can remember this, it will help you out a lot. 5 times a day, breathe in slowly and deeply, all the way to your diaphragm. Count to 5 holding the breath, then for 5 seconds exhale very slowly. Hold for 5 seconds, then breathe in again. You can do this while driving IF YOU DON'T GET DIZZY!! Please don't get in an accident because you were trying to calm down and breathe deeply! Do it first thing when you wake up and when you go to bed. If that's all you do, at least you are doing more than you did before!
Need more info? Check out this article: 13 Benefits of Deep Breathing
3. Eat More Vegetables
As I have mentioned before, I'm studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health coach. We learn about so many dietary theories, and it is highly acknowledged that many of them completely contradict each other. Some are vegan, raw, protein heavy, high carb, etc. One thing cannot be disputed though, however you may choose to eat, and that is EAT MORE VEGGIES! (Do I really need to take the time to discuss the benefits of eating veggies?? Low in calorie and high in nutrients, they will give your body what it needs. 100 calories of vegetables contains MORE protein than 100 calories of meat, seriously! Not to mention they contain organic water, lower cholesterol, increase circulation, balance weight, and are full of fiber so you feel fuller longer. So there you go!)
Increasing vegetable consumption can be very daunting for a lot of people. They want to eat healthier but have no idea where to start. Dr. Joel Fuhrman recommends eating up to 2 pounds of vegetables a day. When I first heard this, I laughed out loud because I thought it was one of the most ludicrous things I had ever heard! If you think about how heavy broccoli or root vegetables like celery root or rutabaga are, it's not really that unobtainable. However, there is no way I eat like that every day. Some days I have more fruit, more grains, more nuts, etc. The important thing is to try, you might surprise yourself!
So you're thinking I'm off my rocker and there is no way you can do this. But you can! Start really simple and you will find yourself eating more and more vegetables in no time.
Here are a few tips to get started:
- Make a green smoothie every day. Keep it simple and low in fruit. I really like 1 apple, 1/2 avocado, a bunch of kale, small bit cilantro or parsley, and about 8-12 oz of water, that's it! You can add 1/4 lemon or lime but be careful because citrus can be hard on the kidneys. Add another apple or a pear if it's not sweet enough. Remember the more you add to your smoothie, the harder it will be to digest! Don't go crazy with a million super foods, keep it simple and it will be a low cost, high nutrient snack too!
- Try one new vegetable a week. Browse your local farmers market or health food store for something you've never tried before. Find a recipe online to find inspiration on how to prepare it. Or just gnaw on it raw if you feel so inclined! If you order a CSE box (community supported agriculture) like Farm Fresh to You or Bountiful Basket, you are going to get something you've never had before. Expand your palette and you will be increasing your health at the same time! Here are a few to look up to get you started: romanesco, jicama, watercress, kohlrabi, leeks, sunchokes (jerusalem artichoke), rutabaga, raw sauerkraut (Bubbies, Pickled Planet, Farmhouse Culture are some good brands-this comes in a jar in the refrigerated section), brussel sprouts, fennel, parsnips, and anything else you see that looks new and different.
4. Express Gratitude
We live in a world where everyone complains and makes ridiculous, erroneous comparisons to others. We're too tired, too overweight, everything is too expensive, we have no money, the sun is too hot, the winter is too cold, there's not enough food, my house is too small, this doesn't look the way I want it to, I don't like this, I don't like that, theirs is better, blah blah blah. It's time to stop all that nonsense!! LIFE IS GOOD! If you have a roof over your head, shoes on your feet, clothes on your back, food on the table and people to love and who love you, what else do you really need?? Everything else is a luxury and a blessing and should be embraced with gratitude. Just because we live in a world of excess doesn't mean we should just expect to have all these things, and complain and express negativity when things don't go the way we want them to. Life doesn't always go how we want, it can be extremely unfair and painful at times. But it's how we deal with these situations that can either help us move forward to a place of positivity and abundance or leave us stuck in negativity and misery.
A few years ago, my husband and I were living outside of L.A. and not enjoying life there at all. I really did not like my job, and although he liked his, it was a crazy commute. We were not very happy with the fast paced life there, I barely made any friends and we just couldn't find our niche. During this time, we rode through some tumultuous waves within our relationship. We were seeing a fertility doctor and trying to have a baby and nothing seemed to be working, even though we had been given a clean bill of health. I'm sure I was a complaining, negative mess. It was a pretty dark time for both of us. I kept saying that I wish we didn't have to be there, that we needed an out, that I wanted to move somewhere else, whine whine whine. Well, the universe delivered when my hubby was let go of his job about 2 weeks before Christmas. Yes, that actually happened. I was beside myself. Then I realized that this was a blessing in disguise and totally changed my attitude. We had a few years of picking up the pieces, but every step of the way life kept getting better and better. We moved to where we wanted to be (back home to the Bay Area) and both found amazing jobs. Then I started to get in to the world of holistic wellness and have met the most inspiring people and have made beautiful, lifelong friendships. This would not have happened if we stayed in Southern California. I tried to stay positive and grateful the whole time. Looking back, hindsight is always 20/20. It all happened for a reason and put us on the path of where we were meant to be. I try to maintain that gratitude and positivity most days. Of course I complain and whine sometimes, but I really do try!
The universe will give back to you what you put out in to it. If you are constantly being negative and thinking that life is terrible and you're never going to get anywhere, that is exactly what you will get back. If you express thanks and use positive affirmations like "everything is going my way" or "something wonderful is going to happen" it truly will. It may not be what you expect, because that's life trying to teach you a lesson, but it will really happen!
If you need some inspiration, check out "The Secret" book or movie. It's a little hokey, but it really is good. The same author, Rhonda Byrne, also has "The Power" and "Hero". I've listened to some of "The Power" and really like it, probably better than "The Secret". There is also a book I love called "Remembering Wholeness" by Carol Tuttle. It is fabulous and life changing, truly. Carol Tuttle's blog is really inspirational too, and she blogs about gratitude here. Most recently, I have come across A Complaint Free World and it is rocking my world!! The book was literally dropped off at my doorstep (much love to UPS and Amazon Prime!!!!) last night and I could not put it down. I plan on finishing it before the weekend. The basic premise is that you go without complaining for 21 days. It takes most people 4-8 months to complete this task. It is really worth checking out if you need a challenge to bring positivity and more quality in to your life. I highly recommend it! In fact, I'm looking forward to blogging about it :)
If this is all too new age-y to you, simply start a gratitude journal or chart. Write down 3 things that you are grateful for each day. Change it every day so that after one weeks time you have 21 things you are grateful for. You'll be amazed at how easy it will become to write down 5 things a day, even 10. You'll be writing that you're grateful for things you never realized, like free clean bathrooms, 24 hour grocery stores, and even pennies (hey, they are money after all!).
So there you have it, Happy New Year :) Drink water, breathe, eat your veggies, and be thankful!
Here's to 2014, may it be everything you want it to be, and more.