As busy as our lives are, it’s easy to put our own health last. After rushing around all day, taking care of a million different things in a zillion separate directions, all we want to do is eat some junk food, have a drink, and watch some mindless TV. It seems harmless enough.
It’s not. We hurt ourselves when we neglect our bodies. We don’t give our bodies what they need to function at top capacity. As a result, every area of our lives suffers.
Needless to say, if you’re run-down and sick with a cold, you’re probably not going to have your Best Day Ever. It’s hard to choose happy when you’re exhausted. We forget that our brain is a body part, just as much as our stomach and lungs. Simply put, our brain doesn’t work as well when we’ve deprived it of the many things it needs to keep up with the many functions it performs. We’re less efficient and not as creative; we don’t think as clearly; and we’re more prone to emotional upsets.
I’m not saying that if we eat right, exercise, and get the sleep we need, we’ll never get sick. If we make a plan to meet our bodies’ needs, though—and carry through on it—we will be healthier. With better nutrition, regular exercise, and more sleep, our immune systems grow stronger. We’re able to cope with stress at home and at work better.
This information about health is nothing new—most of us already know the basics of a healthy lifestyle. Yet knowing doesn’t equal action.
Action comes in different forms, but it always starts with a plan to make it happen. When you make your yearly, weekly, and daily plans, include your body’s needs too. The adage “Health is Wealth” is a truism for a reason; your health truly is a ‘Big Rock’ to prioritize around. Schedule exercise. Plan your meals. Make your eating decisions—groceries, snacks, work lunches, and dinner engagements—ahead of time, when you’re not hungry. Commit to a certain number of hours of sleep per night. In addition to the framework of a plan, be thoughtful about the tiny, everyday choices you make.
For example, who hasn’t wanted to stay up past a normal bedtime to read a magazine or finish a book? I know I’m guilty! This is one of those tiny, everyday choices that makes a difference. Going to bed on time to get seven (or more) hours of sleep so that the next day goes better is a seemingly insignificant choice that ends up making a big difference in the end.
On Dr. Christiane Northrop’s website, she recommends we think of ourselves as our “own best mothers.” As parents, we usually work hard to make sure our children are as healthy as possible. We monitor snacks, pack lunches, make healthy dinners; we send our kids off to bed at a regular time most nights; and we give them opportunities to run around and play. Then we fail to give ourselves the same nurturing care. However, if we take Dr. Northrop’s advice to “treat yourself like an ideal mother would,” we will think of ourselves as an equally important member of the family, someone who deserves our utmost care and commitment.
Feeling strong and happy is a powerful motivation for continuing to say ‘yes’ to healthy habits. The foundation for a Best Day Ever lifestyle is adequate sleep, low to no alcohol, no sugar, appropriate hydration, essential fatty acids and vitamin D intake, nutrient-dense “ancient” grains (ditching processed gluten grains), and getting twenty minutes of intentional movement daily. Taken individually, all of these things seem doable—and they are. Together they form a powerful system that’s the baseline for more energy, health, vitality and longevity.
Make It Personal
Over the next week, keep a record of how much sleep you get, what you eat, and how long you move your body each day. Then make a note of how you felt during the day, using a scale of 1 to 10 for energy level, mental focus, and mood.
At the end of the week, look at this record. If you’re seeing a lot of numbers that are 5 or less in the energy, focus, and mood columns, you may not be taking adequate care of your body. Pay attention to what affects you negatively: Too much sugar instead of complex carbohydrates? Skipping meals? Not enough sleep?
You can use a habit tracking app to help you make this super easy. And these apps can make it simple and fun to develop the positive habits – like drinking more water and getting daily movement – you can build on as you strive for your Best Day Ever.
Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash