While I’ve always been into health and fitness I haven’t always practiced what I preached. We often know what’s good for us, but knowing and doing aren’t the same thing. Also, committing and half-assing are not the same thing. Committing often requires getting uncomfortably truthful. For me, I had to get really honest about if what I was saying was aligning with what I was doing.
Here are my top five personal game changers.
Eat Real Food
I’ve been all across the board regarding food. I’ve been a vegetarian (10 years), emotional eater, paleo lover, keto wannabe, and gone on the red wine in a to-go cup diet (thank you New Orleans). The only time food felt easy is when I focused on food that is real and did it mindfully. I feel amazing when I eat what I want when I’m hungry. I don’t always need to eat breakfast, or refuel every two hours, and I’m certainly not going back to the days when I used to weigh each gram of protein or carbohydrate. I’m not training for the Olympics, (although in my humble opinion, I’d make an excellent Taylor Swift backup dancer should that ever become a category) I’m just training to live a happy, healthy, sustainable lifestyle. I eat food that is real which means it was once living and not created in a lab, I eat tons of veggies especially the green ones, and I eat what my body tells me it needs. This intuition didn’t happen instantly. It was a process that still isn’t foolproof and needs regular upkeep, but it gets easier the more in tune you become to your body. I still eat cookies and drink wine and my last meal on Earth would be a giant cheese plate with crusty Italian bread but I eat to feel good so that I can do all of the things I love for as many years as I’m given.
Create a Morning Ritual
Most of my life I’d never been much of a morning person. I’d lay in bed until the very last second then rush out the door in haphazard dervish with toothpaste on my shirt. Somewhere along the way I learned the art of easing into the day with reading, writing, meditation, and a hot beverage. It sets a calm and relaxed tone for the rest of the day. I now wake up extra early to allot a few hours (yes, hours) of quiet time before I face the world. I look forward to this every day. There is something magical about peaceful, early mornings, drinking coffee, and doing something you enjoy before the hustle takes over. My recommendation is a morning ritual, but I think the real importance is in having some sort of daily routine that you do solely for yourself to invite pleasure and peace. Not something that you have to do, but something that makes you better.
When I was young I was very private and showed little emotion. Having one sister with a disability and one who was extremely sensitive forced me to be the ‘tough’ one. I think there may have been a three year span during my late teens where I didn’t cry at all. Through lots of ‘work’ I’m now very comfortable expressing, talking about, and writing about my emotions. I feel that by being open with mine invites you to be open with yours. I now life in a space of vulnerability at all times it has taught me how to have confidence and be brave, it’s also taught me to have the hard, uncomfortable conversations that generate meaningful human connection. I invite you to open yourself up to living in this space. Seriously, we are all just winging it and there are few things we know for certain so if we can all act accordingly we level up our daily living.
Sweat is my meditation, therapy, sanity, and one of my very favorite things. I love it so much I quit my life of party planning so that I could wear spandex full time and compare sweat angels with other lovers of the twerk. When I say sweat I also mean movement. It doesn’t matter what you do, but do something and be consistent. The best form of exercise is the one you enjoy. Yoga, hiking, rollerblading, marathon training, picking up heavy things, or rock climbing - try everything! Find something that makes you happy and do it. We all know the benefits of an active lifestyle. We know how good it feels to ride the wave of an endorphin high so if you haven’t found that thing you love keep looking. Try all of the things until you find the thing.
I’m lumping these together because for me, one begets the other. Sleep has never come easily for me, but when I started meditating regularly I noticed a huge change in sleep quality. All the aforementioned factors are at play, but meditation is the linchpin. Simply put, meditation is deep breathing. You can add all the woowoo you want and make it work for you, but taking some time to breathe and slow down your monkey mind is straight juju. I can talk for hours about the benefits of meditation, but it’s remarkably changed my life and the way I view the world. Sleep is still not something that happens with ease, but I’ve prioritized it big time over the past year and I’m a much happier, less reactionary person for it. I notice when I’m taking care of myself physically and mentally my sleep is much better than when I’m flying around frantically getting shit done.
Try one of these! Try all of these! Make your own list that makes you feel good about your wellness, there are no rules.