I’ve entered the season of complete chaos. I work for an International Film Festival by day and we’re days away from the 12-day affair. Life is already moving faster than ever and it’s hard to keep up with it. For those of you that know what it’s like to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off then you know the chaos of trying to stay healthy while moving 100mph. It’s not easy and the anxiety makes me crave sugar (like all the unhealthy sugar snacks that were brought into the office as “fuel” for us.) Don’t get me wrong, I think some good ol’ sweets are needed now and again, but I have some rules as to the kinds I know will make me feel my best and help me to keep moving forward instead of dragging me down.
And that’s why we’re here.
When it comes to living healthy, even in the middle of a tornado, there are 4 things to keep in mind. I consider these the foundation of health: Sleep, Macronutrients (Fat, Fiber, Protein!), Movement, and Meditation. Yes, this is the perfect recipe for feeling your best no matter what is going on in your life and ordered by importance.
Foundation of Health: Sleep
These busy seasons of life don’t always allow for enough sleep. If you’ve read my blog posts on Sleep Part 1: How Much Sleep Do You Need? or Sleep Part 2: Lack of Sleep Side Effects you’ll know that sleep affects your overall health including getting sick or developing diseases as severe as cancer. However you have to arrange your schedule to try and get 7-8 hours of sleep do it. The longer you’ve been awake the more your brain shuts down. (After being awake for 16 hours your brain is equivalent to a drunk driver.) To be at your best and to be the most productive keeping a sleep schedule and guarding it with your life will make all the difference. Sleep deprivation causes the most mistakes and will only make you feel worst.
Foundation of Health: Macronutrients
The next important factor is macronutrients. Every meal should aim to have fat, fiber, and protein in it. These nutrients turn off hunger hormones, provide a continuous stream of energy and will keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. By loading up on healthy fats, fibers, and proteins you’ll also decrease sugar cravings and feel the benefit of the energy they produce. Trust me on this one, you’ll feel 1,000x’s different by focusing on these nutrients. And make sure that even your snacks are high in fat and protein, not sugar. (I’m talking about those pretzels in your hand, yes even the ones with peanut butter, go grab some beef jerky!)
Foundation of Health: Movement
Movement is what helps us unload our excess hormones, specifically the stress hormone, cortisone. Whether this is getting a hard workout at the gym, a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood or a good romp in the hay, these all help activate muscles, providing ways of removing the leftover cortisone and opening up the paths to allow L-tryptophan to turn into serotonin. (Without the exercise, L-Tryptophan is competing with amino acids to enter the brain. However, these amino acids will race to provide energy to muscles when working out, leaving the entry through the blood-brain barrier open to L-tryptophan.) With all this said, movement allows Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphins, and Dopamine to release helping you to feel more relaxed and happier. Endorphins are released from stress or pain, the definition of working out. Like morphine, they trigger parts of your brain to tell you that you aren’t in pain so that you can keep moving. Oxytocin is released from an orgasm and is one of the greatest ways to remove excess cortisol levels in your body (however, high cortisol levels can lower libido). If you’re really stressed, sex or a workout is what you need.
Foundation of Health: Meditation
With everything that is happening in your hectic world you are processing a lot, especially if you are an introvert. Finding even 10-minutes a day to meditate, do some yoga, take a walk, work on breathing exercises or read a good book that isn’t work-related can make a world of a difference. You cannot work all day every day. Your emotions start to go haywire and your ability to pleasantly be around people drops significantly. Take some time out of your day (10-20 minutes twice a day) to be alone and to regroup. You’ll be amazed at how much energy this gives you and leaves time for developing new ideas too.
These four foundations are life changing when it comes to feeling healthy and having energy but they aren’t much help if you don’t know how to implement them. Sleep, movement, and meditation are all pretty easy (you can read my Style of Meditation post for more ideas there) but when it comes to eating healthy that’s where we all get lost. Stick around for part 2 where I break down grab and go snacks.