What’s this secret sauce I speak of? It’s not one singular thing, but a combination of things. If you incorporate even a couple of them, you will gain more energy, boost immunity, mental clarity, mood, and look 10 years younger! Best of all it’s completely free, and you will feel the effects immediately. We all already do it, but if you’re a type-A person living in a big city, you probably don’t do it very well. Here’s the – not so secret – sauce I speak of, adequate sleep, sunlight, hydration, and exercise. These things are inexpensive, easy to attain, yet difficult to implement. It’s not enough to have the desire to do these things, it takes conscious effort to accomplish them. I know, I’ve been that city dweller with a busy schedule to keep, running around parched and in a zombie state. Today, I’ll share tips on how to keep from being a parched zombie! Read on my friend.
Adequate sleep should be high on everyone’s health priorities list because it’s cheap and effective. Chronic sleep deprivation disturbs the bodies repair and restorative functions. Think of proper sleep as a nightly system upgrade for body and mind, without it you’ll be glitchy. If you have difficulty getting quality sleep try incorporating a nightly routine, here are some suggestions to welcome sleep:
- Have your last meal at least two hours before bedtime and opt for something light; I usually have a snack, like, yogurt with nuts and berries;
- An hour before bedtime turn off your WiFi, I have this done automatically so I don’t have to think about it, this helps with the following;
- Stay off your electronic gadgets that emit blue light. The light from these gadgets disrupts our circadian rhythm (internal biological clock) which helps stimulate wake-sleep cycles and is highly influenced by environmental cues, particularly light.
- Meditate! I use to think meditation meant having a shaman-like focus, nope, not necessary. Meditation assists the wandering mind in winding-down, perfect to include in a bedtime routine. If you are new to meditation begin small, 5 minutes of uninterrupted time to yourself is a good place to begin. I find it helps to focus on one thing that is important to me, as opposed to ridding my brain of distractions.
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time every single day. Use black-out curtains or eye blinders, this helps me stay asleep once I get there. If you use an alarm, choose one that wakes you up gradually.
- And please don’t fall asleep on the couch! To get the best rest, head to bed as soon as you begin to feel sleepy!
Expose me to morning sunlight and I feel like I can accomplish any task you place in front of me. Exposing the eyes to sunlight first thing in the morning sets off a domino effect of hormonal processes, such as decreasing melatonin, the hormone that signals the body to prepare for sleep. Serotonin, the hormone believed to increase with sunlight exposure, is associated with boosting mood and mental alertness. What I found interesting is morning light exposure helps melatonin production occur sooner, which helps with falling asleep more easily come bedtime, as stated in this article from Environmental Health Perspectives. Then there’s the cortisol awakening response, simply put, upon awakening, there’s a sharp increase in cortisol secretion into the bloodstream. This increase peaks 30 to 45 minutes after waking up, it’s believed to provide us with the energy to meet the days anticipated tasks. This post-awakening time window is the perfect opportunity to exercise or pick an activity you want to spend fresh energy on.
Another health benefit that makes sun exposure essential, it helps the body generate vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes healthy bones and teeth, supports the immune, and nervous systems. Studies show a deficiency has been associated with increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune disease, hypertension, and infectious diseases. Getting the right amount of sun exposure to soak up this vitamin is highly dependent on the individual’s skin color, age, how far north or south you live, the time of year, sunscreen usage, and preexisting health conditions. I have olive complexion and make sure I get 20 minutes of morning sun exposure, usually before 10 AM. The critical factor here is moderation. Like most of the population, I’m vitamin D deficient. There are plenty of foods that provide vitamin D to stock-up on, such as, salmon and eggs. Knowing where you stand with vitamin D levels is helpful, consult with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
When was the last time you were excessively parched? It has happened to me one time too many while writing, an awful time to be thirsty since thirst is a sign of dehydration which can lead to brain fog and headaches. Other signs and symptoms of dehydration are dark-colored urine, craving sweets (counterproductive if you’re trying to lose weight), dry skin, and fatigue (counterproductive if you’d like to look 10 years younger). We are mostly water, brain and heart 73%, lungs 83%, muscles and kidneys 79%, skin 64%, even bones contain 31%. Blood Plasma counts for about 55% of the blood. Plasma is about 90% water and has the important job of transporting nutrients to where they’re needed in the body and helps remove cellular waste products from the body.
The amount of water consumption any one person needs is dependent on their activity level, weight, caffeine consumption, pregnancy status, the weather, and which way the wind is blowing – kidding, the last one is not true! The common rule of thumb is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, this is a good goal, to begin with, and should be tweaked to suit your specific lifestyle. So, who could use a glass of water right now? Sip on one while you contemplate the following hydration tips:
- Leave a gallon of water in your car.
- Carry a refillable water bottle in your bag.
- If you’ll be occupied with a task, set hydration reminders.
- Spruce up your water with frozen strawberries and cucumbers or something of your liking.
- Sip herbal tea and snack on water-rich fruits and veggies throughout the day.
Exercise is a powerful tool to help keep a body healthy. Not only does it make you physically stronger and aerobically fit, but it also improves cognitive functions and boost mood. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Recommendations for strength training are two times a week for all major muscle groups. Physical activity is essential to keep the lymphatic circulation flowing optimally. If you exercise consistently remember to cross-train with different activities to decrease repetitive stress on your joints and surrounding tissue. If you are a beginner, make a plan, begin slow and choose an activity you enjoy. A walking program is sufficient, to begin with. If you would like to focus on exercise for overall health and want to get fit without hurting yourself, enlist help from a certified fitness coach. I will help you build healthy habits, provide you with support and guidance through a customized progressive fitness plan. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll build a six-pack – but most importantly – you’ll learn to move better so you don’t throw out your back.
Which one of these tips will you start implementing today? This week? This month? If you begin today, ten years from now you’ll be happy you did. Make sure to check out the links I’ve included in this post and if you are looking for a little motivation and guidance, head on over to my contact page. I’m here to guide and support your fitness journey.
Stand tall, Breathe deep!
ACE/NASM Certified Trainer
NYS Licensed Massage Therapist