Small Changes Can Make A Big Difference In Your Health

small changes

Small changes can make a big difference!

Persistence, even in little things (like nutrition and fitness) can have a big impact in your overall health.

Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Small Changes

  • Drink 8 or 9 glasses of water per day and not your usual 6 or 7.
  • Chew your food slowly instead of scarfing down your meal.
  • Power walk 30 minutes instead of your usual 15.
  • Work out while you watch TV instead of vegging out, munching on chips.
  • Wake up early in the morning and work out instead of waiting until after work when you’re tired and busy and less likely to follow through.
  • Park your car further away from your destination so you can take more steps on your way in to work (or the grocery story, movie theater, church, etc.).
  • Avoid self-defeating messages. Instead change your thoughts to reflect the positive goals you’re working to achieve. You might want to journal about your feelings and goals. Some people like to have a mantra that they repeat when the start being hard (unforgiving) on themselves. I like these:
    1. Stop beating yourself up.  You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once.
    2. Ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?”
    3. The true measure of your success is how many times you can bounce back from failure.
    4. The story of your life has many chapters.  One bad chapter doesn’t mean it’s the end.  So stop re-reading the bad one already and turn the page.
    5. This too shall pass.
    6. You got this!
    7. With change comes opportunity.
    8. And one of my favorites, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” (from The Help) You might want to check out the video clip below.

What changes have you made? What have you noticed as a result of your efforts?


 

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Food Is Medicine, Or Is It?

food is medicine

The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poisoning.  -Dr. Ann Wigmore

Who Determines What’s Healthy?

As Americans, we’re constantly bombarded with messages about eating healthy. Nutritional studies are conducted all the time. Yet many of them are contradictory.

For example, for 40 years (if you’ve been around that long) we’ve heard how we should avoid cholesterol, and especially egg yolks.

(Personally, the yolk is my favorite part. And when I eat eggs the protein keeps me satisfied until my next meal).

Recently we learned that eating foods high in cholesterol is not a problem after all. The current thinking is that eating high-cholesterol foods does not raise a person’s blood cholesterol level.

Forty years after the U.S. government placed warnings on eating eggs, we’re told it is finally safe to eat them again! (This is good, because I never stopped eating them.)  😉

All of this indecision causes us to wonder if we can trust any of the nutrition information we’re being “fed” by the government.

It’s no secret that the food companies are able to sell more food because of all the research studies and talk about what is healthy.

Despite the constant barrage of nutritional advice we hear, obesity and chronic illnesses continue to rise at an alarming rate.

Even though I’ve always been health conscious, it wasn’t until I became chronically ill that I discovered the healing power of healthy, whole food.

So, What Do We Eat?

Fortunately, most of us know what we should eat:

  • a variety of whole foods
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • “healthy” fats
  • protein in the form of meat (or plant-based protein if you’re vegan)

Cut It Out

food is medicine
Food is Medicine

What foods should we stay away from?

  • processed foods (anything in a package with words you have trouble pronouncing)
  • sugar
  • empty calories, such as those in soda
  •  white flour

Our modern diets are often  prepared for convenience. Chemicals and additives are used to preserve our prepackaged Twinkies, Big Macs, and microwavable dinners.

The soil our foods are grown is now depleted. This robs our “natural” foods of essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need to stay healthy and thrive.

Chemicals are used more and more for growing food and raising animals, such as cattle and pigs, for food.

There are so many reasons we need to pay attention to what we eat!

Food Is Medicine

Whole foods contain amazing healing properties and health benefits!

  • antioxidants
  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • fuel for our mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell

Please keep in mind that we are all unique and have different nutritional needs.

But when we strive to eat more of the good stuff, such as coconut oil, and less processed foods, our bodies are well-nourished and revitalized. And who doesn’t want that?


Do you agree that food is medicine? Why or why not?

Share your perspective in the comment section below.


You might want to check out this compelling video of Dr. Terry Wahls sharing how she used nutritious food to reverse her Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

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The Surprising Truth About Success

Surprising Truth About Success

Success

What does it mean to you?

Here are some common synonyms from Dictionary.com:

  • fame
  • gain
  • victory
  • win
  • prosperitysurprising truth about success
  • accomplishment
  • progress
  • happiness
  • achievement
  • boom
  • profit
  • champion
  • triumph
  • realization

Do any of these surprise you? What about progress, realization and happiness?

The Surprising Truth About Success

What if I told you that success doesn’t have to mean you’re the best?

If you’re like me the first time I heard this, you might feel confused, irritated, or indignant. Talk about some strong emotions!

People view “success” differently, and that’s okay. In my humble opinion, I believe it’s good to challenge our thinking from time to time. Sometimes I find myself believing something for so long that I forget why I believed it in the first place.

When we find ourselves at this point it might be time for a reality check.

So it doesn’t particularly matter what the dictionary says (ok, maybe that does matter a little).

But, it’s what a word means to you that really matters. Like what it makes you feel in your heart, the emotions that well up inside you when the word is spoken and the memories evoked.

Back To The Drawing Board

So recently I was rethinking “success” and this is what I came up with.

When I was a competitive, young girl I viewed success as being the best at something, being #1, otherwise known as the champion of the world!

Whether I was pitching fast-pitch softball, playing basketball, volleyball, or track. Or singing, playing the piano or clarinet at music contest or a recital, I held the same narrow-minded view for years. Having success regardless of what I was doing always meant “winning”.

Now I’m (a few) years older, and (hopefully, at least a little bit) wiser. And I’m seeing this word in a brand new light.

There are times in life when we go through memorable , or tough times. These times help to reshape and refine our understanding of our life’s purpose.

Surprising Truth About SuccessI’m connecting “success” with these  synonyms:

  • progress
  • realization
  • happiness

To me, it means all of the above. Also I would add “remaining steadfast and persistent in the face of adversity”.

To explain why I now see success so differently would take a few 1000 more words. Maybe a follow-up article to come?


Have you ever reconsidered the meaning of a word due to a life event or experience? What caused you to reconsider?

And what if you believed that success was your only option? Would that change how you feel about yourself?

Please share your thoughts and comments below.


Just for fun, if you’re up for a blast from the past, you might enjoy watching this video of We Are The Champions, by Queen. 🙂

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Top 10 Habits To Help You Live Longer

live longer

Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” I tend to agree.

On the other hand, there is something about being human that causes us to want a long life.

Live Longer

The average life expectancy has been steadily increasing for years. Many people think genes and heredity play a major role in determining how long they will live. But, genetics are not as influential as we once thought.

It appears that other factors, such as eating habits and lifestyle are much more important. This is great news, since it means we can affect the quality and length of our lives by making healthier choices.

Here are 10 habits that will help you live longer:

1. Drink Coffee Or Tea

live longer
Drink coffee to increase longevity.

Do you love your morning cup of joe as much as I do?  If so, you can reap some impressive benefits!

Coffee and tea are full of antioxidants. Drinking coffee and/or tea may help prevent chronic disease, which can lead to early death.

Green tea was shown to cut the risk of major disease, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes (1, 2. 3).

Drinking coffee is linked with a reduction in the risk of brain diseases (like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease), cancer, and type 2 diabetes (4, 5, 6).

Please keep in mind that coffee and tea contain caffeine (unless you drink decaf). Drinking them too late in the day may interrupt your sleep.

Also, if you consume too much caffeine you may feel jittery, so you might want to limit your intake to 4 cups of coffee a day.

You may want to try this recipe for my favorite healthy coffee drink. It has coconut oil, which might sound strange at first…until you try it!

This Lavazza Super Crema Espresso, Whole Bean Coffee is to die for!

2. Don’t Overeat

If you’re like me, you might thinking, “That’s easier said, than done”. (especially when it comes to chocolate)

But, research has shown that reducing caloric intake may increase your life expectancy (7).

Eating fewer calories has also been linked to a reduced chance of chronic disease, lower body weight and healthy change in body composition (8, 9).

Some of the oldest people in Japan eat until they feel about 80% full and then they stop (10).

Obviously, starving yourself is not the goal here. Neither is it recommended. 🙂

But, dishing out smaller servings of food, eating on a smaller plate, chewing slowly or leaving food uneaten are all things we can do to reduce our calorie intake and help prevent overeating.

3. Exercise And Be Active

live longer
Stay active and keep moving.

Studies have shown the ill effects of being a couch potato and not getting enough exercise.

According to Health.com, a 2010 study linked watching too much TV to early death:

The study followed 8,800 adults with no history of heart disease for more than six years. Compared to those who watched less than two hours of TV per day, people who watched four hours or more were 80% more likely to die from heart disease and 46% more likely to die from any cause. All told, 284 people died during the study.

Another study showed a link between sitting too much and premature death (11).

Exercise is essential to living a long and healthy life (12).

You might even be able to increase your lifespan by exercising as little as 15 minutes a day (13).

The more you exercise and stay active, the more you can reap the benefits (14).

Exercising more than 150 minutes a week has the most benefits, but any time you move is good for your health and can help increase longevity.

If you’re just starting out with a fitness plan, focus on gradually increasing the time you spend exercising.

For example, the first week you could set a goal of walking 15 minutes (or 5 or 10 minutes, whatever works for you), 5 days a week. Then the following week you can increase your goal to walking 20 minutes a day. Continue increasing your goal each week until you’re walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. By then you’ve reached your 150 minutes a week of exercise!

You might want to try this stand and sit test which can predict longevity.

Warning: It’s not for the faint of heart. My husband and I just tried it out. Lol!

Let me know how you do!

4. Don’t Smoke

Smoking is linked to a decreased lifespan.

A study of women in the UK showed that smokers may lose 10 years of their lifespan and are much more likely to die prematurely (15).

The good news is that it’s never too late to quit smoking. Here are some resources to help people quit smoking.

5. Include Spices In Your Diet

Consuming spices such as turmeric and cinnamon can help you live longer.

Turmeric has a bright yellow chemical compound called curcumin. It’s a member of the ginger family.

Curcumin has many antioxidants which protect the body from oxidative stress (16).

Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory which fights against cardiovascular, pulmonary and autoimmune diseases  (17).

Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants and smells great! It’s an anti-inflammatory and lowers blood sugar.

Here’s a recipe for Cinnamon Tea.

 

6. Manage Stress

Reducing stress and anxiety are essential skills to learn for increasing your lifespan.

Everyone experiences stress in one way or another. People experience different types of stress and anxiety, and in varying amounts.

The key is learning skills to manage the stress in our lives so it doesn’t negatively impact our health. Having a positive outlook is often part of this.

You might like to check out these tips for managing stress.

Studies show that laughter and having a positive outlook is good for you and may actually add years to your life (18).

7. Sleep Well

When you’re sleeping your body works hard to heal and rejuvenate.

Developing a regular sleep routine is essential to your health. Relaxing habits such as taking a warm bath and reading a book can help you fall asleep faster.

It’s also important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. I realize this is a challenge for those with small children, or a job where you’re constantly changing the hours you work. But, it’s a good idea to keep your sleeping schedule as regular as possible.

The recommendation is to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping much more or less can shorten your life expectancy (19).

Please keep in mind that we all go through seasons of life that we get more or less sleep than others. Many times this cannot be helped. So try not to stress if you’re in one of those times now.

8. Eat Nuts

Amazingly, eating nuts just might add a few years to your life!

Nuts are chock full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and protein.

One study showed that people who ate at least 3 servings of nuts per week lowered their risk of premature death by 39% (20).

Eating nuts has to have a therapeutic effect on inflammation, heart disease, some cancers and diabetes (21).

Here are some healthy nut recipes you might like to try.

9. Eat Your Fruits And Veggies

live longer
Fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Filling your diet with lots of plant foods is a healthy choice for many reasons.

Several studies have connected a prolonged lifespan with eating a Mediterranean diet. This way of eating was shown to cut down on cancer and cardiovascular disease (22, 23).

There are many ways to get your fill of fruits and veggies each day:

  • add them to smoothies
  • eat veggies raw with hummus or your favorite dip
  • roast vegetables in the oven with seasoning
  • make fruit kabobs
  • make a fruit and yogurt parfait
  • ferment your veggies to get a healthy dose of probiotics
  • stir fry
  • make a giant salad

10. Do Things That Make You Happy

We may not be able to control bad things that happen to us in life (you can read about my experience here if you like). But, we can control how we respond to difficult situations.

We can mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. (been there, done that, boo!) But, it’s been my experience that this never helps.

Choosing to live life with joy is contagious!

I’m not saying you need to become Pollyanna. But a little happiness never hurt anyone, right!?

If we frame our thoughts in a positive way, we can keep ourselves on track and stay hopeful. When we take the time to look up from our own problems, we are better able to see other people who need support and encouragement.

When we are intentional about keeping a positive mindset, it can actually add years to our life. One study found a correlation between feelings of happiness and an increase in longevity (24).

One of my favorite verses that gives me perspective when I need it the most is “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Do you have a favorite verse, song or activity that helps you stay positive and find joy and happiness in everyday life.

The Takeaway

Genetics play a small role in life expectancy. But, we can develop healthy habits that will greatly decrease our risk of disease and help us live longer.


What do you think about this list? Do you have healthy habits you would add?

Please share your comments below!


You might like to watch this short video about a 110-year-old man and the 5 foods he recommends eating for a long, healthy life.

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