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Many readers ask me to define my ideal Wellness Lifestyle. I find that it’s easier to start by explaining what it isn’t.
What is the Wellness Lifestyle Not?
If you want to make truly lasting health changes, they have to be a complete lifestyle change, not just a diet. Diets rely on willpower and have a depravation mentality, which sets many people up for failure. The Wellness Lifestyle isn’t about a temporary diet to lose weight or simply accomplish a aesthetic goal (though it may help with that) but a true lifestyle change focused on nourishing and strengthening your body from the inside out.
My particular recommendations are also not specifically the Paleo diet either. Certainly, I agree with many of the aspects of the Paleo Diet and think that many people benefit from it. I have tremendous respect for many Paleo bloggers and authors. I’ve arrived at this way of eating and living because the science backs it up and I’ve seen the benefit in my own life, not because distant ancestors may have eaten this way.
As I said, I agree with almost all aspects of the Paleo diet and think that many people in the Paleo movement are helping many people, I just don’t follow all tenants of it 100% and haven’t arrived at my conclusions on an ancestral basis, so I don’t use the term. My “Wellness Lifestyle” incorporates many of the aspects of Paleo/Primal/WAPF lifestyle and I think there are many valuable resources in all of these areas.
It all starts with food- what you put into your body on a daily basis is the single most important thing you can do for your health.
1. Eat More Nutrient Dense Foods
Obviously, if a person wants to be healthier, he or she must eat healthier foods, but there are so many opinions of what healthier foods are! Rather than thinking of foods as “bad” and trying to avoid them, focus on the nourishing and healthy aspects of real foods and focus on trying to incorporate more of them.
For instance, I recommend removing grains/sugar and consuming more healthy fats. Instead of focusing on not consuming the pizza, donuts, chips, sandwiches (or whatever your favorites are), start by just trying to add more healthy foods into your diet. Strive to add more vegetables and healthy fats and focus on the nourishing aspect of food, rather than just the pleasurable one.
There are no neutral foods, they are either helping or harming the body, so choose foods that help.
If you are overweight, have autoimmune issues or other struggles, a more strict version may be helpful for a short time. Consider removing grains, sugar, dairy, nightshades (tomato, pepper, eggplant, etc.), eggs, and nuts for 30 days and then reintroducing slowly to gauge your reaction.
2. Drink More Water
If you are reading this, chances are you have unlimited access to clean, drinkable water, yet many of use don’t drink enough of it. I’ve actually heard people say that they haven’t consumed any plain water in months or years and drink soda or diet soda instead (and my kidneys ache thinking about it).
Start the day with a glass of water or herbal tea and drink a quart or so of water between meals. For those who don’t regularly drink enough water, this change alone may improve sleep and energy levels and get rid of headaches.
3. Supplement Wisely
There are thousands of supplement options out there and just as many opinions on which ones you should take. For the most part, it is best to get your vitamins and minerals from foods, though this isn’t always possible with our depleted soil and food quality. At times, it is necessary to supplement certain nutrients to improve absorption of the foods you are eating.
Here’s a list of some basic supplements that I take and those I give to my children. These vary if I’m pregnant/nursing or trying to accomplish a specific goal like tooth remineralization or skin protection from the sun.
After the food we put in our bodies, lifestyle factors play a huge part in overall health.
4. Get Some Sleep
This is the one piece of health advice that it seems everyone can agree on. From vegans to paleo, WAPF to SAD, people seem to agree across the board that sleep is important and that missing too much of it too often can hurt your health. I’m also yet to see anyone advertise the health benefits of skipping sleep.
So we know it’s important, but statistically we still aren’t getting enough sleep (*ahem*).
Here are some factors that may help you improve sleep quality, and this article addresses foods, supplements, and environmental factors that affect sleep. Many people notice improved sleep from increasing their Magnesium levels, as Magnesium is important for regulating all hormones, including sleep hormones.
5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy!
Stress also has a dramatic impact on the body as it disrupts normal hormone production and can affect everything from blood sugar levels to sleep quality. This can lead to a cascade of hormone and health problems, and reversing them isn’t always as easy as doing some deep breathing or learning to meditate.
Often, a comprehensive plan of diet, lifestyle changes, and supporting supplements is needed until the body heals.
6. Improve Oral Health
Oral health affects the health of the whole body and much as 65% of us have the beginnings of gum disease. There are many blood vessels and nerves that run from the mouth to other parts of the body so infection in the mouth can contribute to problems other places in the body.
Certain supplements and lifestyle changes will support oral health, and natural, homemade products can help remineralize teeth. I like making my own remineralizing tooth powder or homemade tooth paste. Personally, I’ve managed to reverse a cavity and heal a tooth using the above diet protocol and homemade tooth products.
7. Exercise Wisely
Exercise is definitely important, but physique and body shape are made in the kitchen, not the gym. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet without the health issues eventually catching up with you and exercise isn’t an excuse to eat junk food (even for post-workout “carbs”).
While cardio type exercise is generally encouraged for weight loss, it turns out that other exercises like weights and high intensity, are better for weight loss, muscle growth and physique improvements (and they don’t make women “bulky” in case you were worried!!) In fact, some of the most effective forms of exercise can easily be done at home with very minimal equipment.
8. Clean Without Toxins
Household cleaners and detergents are a major source of chemical exposure for many people, and this can be a tremendous problem, especially with small kids. By making your own cleaners, you can avoid the chemicals and save a lot of money. I’m a huge fan of microfiber, since no cleaners are needed at all, but if you don’t want to use microfiber, here are some recipes for natural cleaners and organic living ideas.
9. Make Your Own Beauty Products
Beauty products and toiletries are another major source of chemical exposure for many people. There are healthy, homemade alternatives to almost every product, and they usually work better and are much cheaper too! Here are some of my favorites.
10. Spend Some Time in the Sun
Contrary to conventional wisdom, all sun exposure is not harmful. In fact, despite high use of sunscreen, skin cancer rates continue to rise and most cases of melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) are in places that are not regularly exposed to the sun.
When a person is in the sun without sunscreen, the body naturally makes Vitamin D, which is protective against many other types of cancers, and even a low SPF sunscreen can prevent this. Instead of slathering on the sunscreen, perhaps we should improve our sun tolerance by eating healthy foods and get sun exposure wisely. There are certain foods and supplements that can work as an internal sunscreen to discourage burning and promote Vitamin D production.
Which of these are you already doing well? Which need more work? Share below!