Daily Habits for Long-Lasting Health: Part I

Front Page, Health

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“We become what we repeatedly do.” ~Sean Covey

     As human beings, we naturally want to improve. For many people, progress equals happiness. Whether it’s your home, relationships, education, finances, spirituality, career, exercise or health, we enjoy growing, changing, and evolving.

     We often fail to recognize the power of our daily habits and how they support our desires, set us up for success, and make large goals tangible. Our rituals and routines define us… and this is super exciting! Getting a grip on this concept will give you amazing control of your life. The key is to start small.

     In relation to health, implementing some easy, daily routines can put you on a solid path to long-lasting wellness. This month’s The Paper Trail edition highlights the first half of my top healthy lifestyle habits; look for Part II in April.

#1 Create A Morning Routine

     Your mind is most open first thing in the morning, and starting off with a calm, consistent morning routine can set a positive trajectory for the day. Here are some ideas:

  • Make your bed upon rising. Control what you can control. Begin the day with confidence. Minimize distraction lest you create distraction.
  • Drink a large glass (or two) of filtered water. Our bodies are naturally dehydrated in the morning, and this is one of the BEST habits to start NOW.
  • Enjoy a cup of warm water with fresh lemon. This jump starts your digestive system, gets your bowels moving and balances your pH.
  • Eat an alkalizing breakfast. While you sleep, your body works on rejuvenating and detoxifying, which naturally creates body acids. Try a green smoothie, green juice, or chia pudding (check out mindfuldine.com for recipes).
  • Take a probiotic, a supplement of live “good bacteria” cultures for a well-balanced gut, right before breakfast.
  • Pause for meditation, breathing exercises, or journaling.

Hydrate

#2 Hydrate

     Many of us walk around in a state of chronic dehydration. Since our bodies are over 70% water (the eyes are 98%; blood is 94%; the brain is 80%), staying hydrated is a crucial habit for optimal health. Water neutralizes body acids, fuels your metabolism, promotes weight loss, fuels detoxification, and supports the immune system.

     Drinking good quality, pure water is really important! Avoid tap water when possible, as it can be full of toxins and chemicals. Try adding a sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt to your water… sea salt contains over 84 natural minerals that enhance your body’s ability to absorb and hold water.

    Pay attention to your body’s cues for dehydration. What are some common signs? Fatigue, sore throat, headache, brain fog, dry skin, dark-colored urine, heartburn, and even high blood pressure. It is easy to mistake these as hunger signs so begin tuning in to your own cues for thirst.

#3 Intermittent Fasting (The 12 hour Window)

     This is one of my favorite health habits… leave at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. Generally, my dinner is finished before 8 p.m. (ideally earlier), and breakfast begins after 9 a.m. the next morning. Digestion is one of the biggest energy demands in the body, so implementing a digestive break is wonderful for overall energy, detoxification, and wellness.

     We burn either sugar or fat for fuel, and most people have only 12 hours of sugar reserves. If you eat frequently and don’t leave a fasting window, your body learns to rely on sugar as its primary fuel. You feel hungry more often and forget how to burn fat. Don’t fret! You can retrain your body and metabolism by eating more healthy fats and adding a fasting window to your daily routine.

Sun Worshiper © Matthew Thornton
Sun Worshiper © Matthew Thornton

#4 Get Outside In The Sunshine

     Living in the Caribbean, we are abundantly blessed with sunshine everyday. The sun can improve your mood, boost serotonin levels (the happy hormone), encourage efficient fat burning, and regulate sleep cycles. Perhaps most importantly, sunshine on your skin triggers the production of super important vitamin D.

     Vitamin D influences 10% of all genes in your body and is absolutely crucial for maintaining health. It supports the immune system and bone health, prevents cardiovascular disease, assists in calcium absorption, and may protect against cancer. Approximately 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D, so get your levels checked during your next health examination. Ask for a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test [25(OH)D]; normal levels are between 50 and 70 ng/mL.

     Stay tuned for “Daily Habits for Long-Lasting Health: Part 2” in next month’s The Paper Trail edition. Cheers to your health and happiness!

Sources:

Mercola, J. Effortless Healing: 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Repair Itself. Harmony Books, 2015.

Leslie is the creator of Mindful Dine, a community dedicated to inspiring nutritious eating and healthy living. She is a self-taught cook, writer, marine scientist, ocean lover and wellness advocate. Leslie is passionate about wholesome, healing food and enjoys inspiring others to be active participants in their health. A native Texan, she now lives in Puerto Rico with her husband.
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