As we continue to learn more about how every part of our body is connected, it's imperative to take a holistic approach to our health.
Our different bodily systems don't live in a vacuum, siphoned off from one another, but instead are a part of a flowing + complex interconnected organism.
Like anything, the only way to see change over time is to practice consistency. Oftentimes, it's the boring things done over and over that make the biggest difference.
We don't believe that fad diets, supplements, 90-day workout programs, or a magic pill to solve our issues.
True health takes a commitment to a lifestyle and micro-decisions that add up over time.
If you struggle to make healthy decisions, it can help to picture yourself as a healthy person, and when faced with a decision ask yourself "If I'm a healthy person, what decision would I make right now?" This subtle shift in mindset to put your current self in the shoes of future-healthy-self can have a huge impact on how you view yourself.
We make decisions that align with how we view ourselves, so try it out and see how it helps.
5 ways you can turn around your health and become happier immediately:
1. Stopped getting hammered every week.
Binge drinking has a massive lingering effect on our bodies. It goes well beyond the day-after hangover and tiredness.
Feeling unmotivated, lethargic, lacking drive, not aligned with a sense of purpose?
Alcohol is a depressant, known to affect serotonin (feel good) and dopamine (I-want-more) neurotransmitters. Although the obvious signs (like a hangover) can linger for 1-3 days, the effects of hormonal/neurotransmitter imbalance can stick around for 1-3 weeks in some individuals.
If we never let ourselves get to our true healthy baseline because we’re getting hammered every week, we'll never know how great we can feel. Binge-drink affects our sleep quality, decreases HRV (nervous systems readiness for strain), increases resting heart rate, increases respiratory rate, and tons more.
Cut out booze. Just try it out for 2 weeks and see if your mood doesn't improve.
2. Prioritize sleep.
Lack of and poor quality sleep can lead to serious health consequences. Sleep challenges have been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain, brain fog, neurological, depression, and anxiety.
An easy tip is to set a bedtime alarm. Instead of just setting an alarm to wake up, work backward 8 hours from when you need to wake up and set an alarm to get into bed. The book Why We Sleep harps on the importance of why giving ourselves the opportunity to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night is the most important factor.
Some simple tips for better sleep tonight:
- Cut caffeine within 10 hours of bedtime
- Eliminate added sugar
- Lights out + as dark of a room as possible
- No food within 3 hours of bedtime
- Limit intense exercise within 3 hours of bedtime (if possible - if you're only time to get a workout in is the end of the day, go for it)
- Write out all thoughts that come to mind before getting into bed
3. Meditate daily.
Before you finish the thought "But I could NEVER sit and meditate for 20 minutes"... first of all, yes you can, but I encourage you to think of meditation in a different way.
Imagine you want to squat 300 lbs, but you've never squatted under a barbell before. You almost certainly won't be able to squat 300 lbs on day one. You'll start with the bar, one rep at a time. Each time you squat that's a rep. And over time, you do more reps, add more weight, get stronger, and boom - you're on your way to the 300 lb club.
Now think of meditation like you would squatting - one rep at a time to get better. Meditation can simply be thought of as the act of recognizing when your thoughts wander and then bringing focus back to the breath. Each time you notice your mind wandering, that's 1 rep.
It's 100% normal for your mind to wander because you’re human - it happens to everyone. So now, approach it with the mindset like squatting "Today, I'm going to do 1 set of 10 reps." BOOM - you. just. meditated.
I love the idea of starting small and creating habits that are enjoyable, attainable, and easy to stick to (see Atomic Habits for more).
Start with 10 reps of eyes closed, focused breathing. Then you can progress from there.
Some great meditation apps (free and paid):
- Insight Timer (free)
- Head Space
- Spotify (free)
- Peloton App
4. Eat whole, minimally processed foods. Cut that shit sugar out.
The western diet is more like a global diet now. Processed foods based around soy, grain, and corn products. Very high in carbohydrates, low in protein, and all kinds of added sugar + ingredients created in a lab. Essentially the complete opposite of how we've been eating to be healthy for thousands of years.
As a culture, we greatly under-consume protein, which is the main building block for our body.
Staying on the outside aisle of grocery stores is a cheeky tip to stay away from processed + junk food. A diet full of whole foods, enough protein (think .8-1g per pound of body weight), and a balance of healthy fats + carbohydrates.
An easy way to think of food is to load half of your plate with veggies (sauté, bake, air fry, grill, or eat them raw), at least a fist of protein, and then fill in the cracks with some healthy, unprocessed starches + fats. (See book Fat Chance)
Cut out sugar. Ween off the extra caramel pumps at Starbucks, packets of Sugar-in-the-Raw, the sweetened hazelnut creamer.
A good rule of thumb... if it comes in a package, was made in a lab, or isn't something you'd find walking around Earth, there's added sugar.
Remember good in = good out.
Great IG resources for healthy eating:
5. Practice daily gratitude + acknowledge death.
Simply thinking of things you’re grateful for or lucky to have is proven to boost mood, improve calmness, and increase empathy in a matter of moments.
Not sure where to start? I think of these things to get me started:
- There are people starving in the world.
- I'm so lucky to live in a country with electricity and running water
- I have a roof over my head.
- I’m thankful for a healthy body and a sharp mind.
Then, I think of 2 people I'm grateful for and reflect on how they've supported me, loved me, or how different my life would be without them.
Thinking of death can provide an interesting shift in perspective. The things that worry us, don't seem so big anymore. The guy that cut us off, the bad investment, the shitty boss - it helps put them in their place and realize we're all going to die one day. We might as well live the fuck out of these days while we can. (Check Daily Stoic on IG)
Love more. Take chances. Make the leap. Give yourself the opportunity to feel fulfilled + be happy.
Health isn't a finite game. You have to be in it for the long haul. It's not a fad diet, a sleeping pill, or a juice cleanse. It's a commitment to daily micro-decisions that compound over time.
Feel more energy, passion, fulfillment, engagement, empathy, and more drive to stay true to yourself.
It takes work, but I promise you it's freaking worth it!