“Just start” can sometimes be discouraging or confusing advice. Often you may feel like screaming, but HOW? Do I cut carbs? Do I just exercise? Where do I begin? Yes, we know getting healthier and making changes to our daily routine is often very hard, especially for people who have been doing things the same way for decades. It’s not easy. It has a lot to do with the difficulty of habit change but also the overwhelming amount of information we are exposed to. This post is about simplifying and starting with the basics to start, just to start.
Let’s begin with nutrition. There are countless contradictions from incredibly informed and educated health professionals about what “diet” is the best one. Do I avoid carbs? Do I avoid sugars, even fruit? Do I eat meat? Do I count calories or points?
Then how should I move? There are just as many conflicting “how-to’s” on how to move for prevention of disease, weight loss or to support your health as you age.
However, there is a place that most, if not all health professionals, should agree. There’s a consensus on what causes disease, and that is inflammation. Inflammation “is a natural response of the body to protect itself from potentially destructive agents such as infection.” Chronic inflammation causes damaged cells which is directly linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
What some people do not realize is that inflammation is also linked to weight gain. A lot of the struggle with batting obesity is linked to the body’s inflammatory response and being “stuck” in it.
So a good place to begin if you feel sick, depressed, or overweight is to tune in…..“listen to your body.” What symptoms are your body or mind exhibiting? Irritability can be a symptom. Joint pain or fatigue or maybe poor digestion.
As you may guess, there is no black/white answer immediately to this question. Oftentimes, it takes a period of trial and error with different types of foods, supplements and movements to determine when symptoms of inflammation are reduced.
Inflammation can also be increased by stress. Beginning a strict, rigorous and hard core diet that depletes your body of what it needs is not going to reduce inflammation. Releasing judgment of yourself, taking yourself off the strict diet, and getting real and honest about how you feel is often a million times more effective.
Ok, then where do we start?
Take Inventory. Before you begin making any changes, take inventory and write it down. Take note of your body- any pain, tension or injuries. How is your digestion? How is your skin? Are you fatigued, anxious or have brain fog? It is very helpful to write down how you feel after you eat a certain meal. Try new things, don’t put yourself on a strict diet, but try one meal eating mostly greens. Take note of how you feel compared to when you eat processed food. As you start to make small incremental changes, take inventory again. At the very minimum check in once a week and write it down.
Start moving. Any type of movement will work. I mean that. Don’t worry about people that say you have to have a certain amount of a certain type of exercise. Just move. If you’re drawn to or curious about yoga, go to yoga or roll out your mat at home. Just try to move every day or every other day. If you want to dance, youtube “dance cardio” and get moving. If you feel good after weight-lifting, go for that. Start somewhere and don’t worry about it being perfect or complete. 10 minutes every other day is a start.
Add in Greens. Once a day, eat a salad before your meal, or add the spinach to your omelette or smoothie. Add greens into one meal once a day. It can start with one cup of spinach once a day. Notice I didn’t say “take away.” We are just adding in something nutritious, detoxing and fibrous to get our system some energy.
Drink 16 oz. more of water. Stop and be sure you’re drinking two large glasses more of water than you usually do. Many of the symptoms you may feel that lead you to fatigue or exhaustion or brain fog could be due to dehydration. Give your body a chance to be replenished and it will reward you with energy to move, eat better and feel more optimistic about change.
This type of process is truly the key to habit change that works and becomes a lifestyle change.
Small changes over time with an intention to feel better.
It also respects that each person’s body may need something a little different. Working on simple changes, and raising awareness in your body of how it makes you feel will lead you down a path of health inevitably because most people, if not all, want to feel better.