When it comes to your health, it's the little things you do each day, that add up to BIG changes over time. But for many, the thought of changing their diet and lifestyle in an effort to get 'healthy', is totally overwhelming and fraught with anxiety! But did you know that simply adopting a few healthy habits in the morning, can make all the difference to the way you look and feel, as well as function long term! Making simple changes to your morning routine, can mean you're less likely to overeat, crave alcohol, caffeine and sugar, as well as starchy carbohydrates like bread and pasta, AND you're more likely to experience more sustained energy throughout the day, without the dreaded afternoon slump!
Below are my top tips to start your day the healthy way....
Drink more water - As simple as it may sound, it's amazing how many of us struggle to achieve this most basic of healthy tasks! Water should be the first thing you put into your body upon waking, because after a good 8 hrs or more since your last drink of water, your body needs hydrating, and NO coffee and black tea don't count as water, because of their diuretic effect caused by the caffeine. I recommend drinking between 500mls to a litre of warm water, with the juice of a lemon, first thing on waking.
Alkalise your body - Too many of us consume an overly acidic diet in the form of excess sugar, coffee, alcohol, grains, meat and processed foods - all of which cause your body to become excessively acidic. When your body's pH is more acid than alkaline, you're more prone to systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation may present as a wide range of symptoms, including food intolerances or seasonal allergies, headaches, arthritis or muscular pain, high blood pressure or cholesterol, autoimmune disease, even depression and anxiety. So starting your day with an alkalizing green vegetable juice such as my Green Goddess, or a glass of fresh lemon juice and water, and eating a mainly plant based diet, is essential for keeping your body more alkaline, and reducing systemic inflammation to actively prevent chronic illness and disease. Of course not all acid forming foods are bad for us, like wild fish, organic eggs, 100% grass fed meats, as these help to build and maintain healthy muscle mass and curb sugar cravings.
Stretch - The first thing you should do when you get out of bed is stretch, and no a quick 20 second stretch of your arms above your head doesn't count! Setting aside 10 to 20 minutes in your day to actively stretch and move your body, whilst consciously focusing on your breath, (especially after a long night's sleep or extended period sitting at your desk), will not only improve your circulation, but also help to improve your response to stress and reduce your risk of developing chronic illness. Most of us spend the bulk of our day way too sedentary - either sitting at a desk for at least 8 hrs, or slumped in front of the TV before going to bed - with little to no time made for exercise. A sedentary life has been scientifically proven to be as unhealthy as smoking! So get your priorities right peoples, and build in dedicated time each and everyday for stretching and at least 30 minutes of exercise. Your knees and back will also thank you for it in your old age, not to mention you will be stimulating your lymphatic system and blood circulation, which will increase oxygen and nutrient transport throughout the body.
Move Your bowels - as much as we don't like to talk about it, our bowel habits say A LOT about our health and the frequency and consistency is essential for determining how you feel and function each day, as well as your risk towards illness and disease. Moving your bowels at least once a day (preferably 2 - 3 times), will also help to boost your metabolism! A healthy bowel movement first thing of a day, or as close to waking as possible, is an indication you have healthy digestion and your inbuilt detoxification mechanism is ship shape! Just as you take out the household garbage to avoid the excess accumulation of waste in your home, it's imperative to eliminate accumulated toxins and waste from your body regularly! If you are dependant on coffee or laxatives to stimulate your bowels, this is not a good sign and is a likely indicator you are dehydrated and lacking in dietary fibre, as well as good bacteria within your gut! If you're not moving your bowels on waking, or at least twice a day, then your body could really benefit from my complete gut repair and liver detox program.
Meditate - starting your day with a healthy mindset through meditation, will ensure you're less likely to be affected by daily stresses, as well as drastically reduce your risk for developing chronic illness and disease - including anxiety and depression. You've often heard me talk about how it's human nature to prioritise what's urgent, over what's really important; causing us to make little to no time in our day for what's truely important in life, and by doing so, you're less likely to be content and happy within yourself, your relationships and life overall. Humans commonly fall victim to the temptation to put off today until tomorrow - usually out of fear - or the belief that one day they'll do what they know is important. But the truth is, that day usually never arrives, until something drastic or even unfortunate occurs in your life, forcing you to take stock. Meditation can help your mind to stay more present or "in the moment" - focusing on the now rather than lamenting over the past and or projecting into, or fearing the future. Most of us have an unrealistic or distorted view of meditation, often fearing that it's hard or only effective if we're able to totally switch off our thoughts and mental chatter. The reality is, meditation is as simple as sitting comfortably and quietly, focusing all your attention on each and every breath, for as little as ten minutes each day. As you progress, you'll be able to work up to longer periods, as you slowly but surely, learn to tame your thoughts, so that they no longer control you. It's important to remember that meditation is like physical exercise, in that you need to make it a regular practice, in order to keep your mind emotionally and physically fit. The more often you practice, the 'fitter' your mind will become. If you need a little push along, I highly recommend my friend Dorje Walkers guided meditation albums, available for free download here.
By making time at the start of your day with these 5 healthy habits, you'll be setting yourself up to feel and function at your best, not only for the rest of your day, but for the years ahead, making tomorrow a lot easier.
If you're struggling to get motivated and implement healthy eating habits for the new year, why not join my 6WK Eat Yourself Healthy online Program, kicking off February 6, 2016, and I'll step you through exactly what you need to do each day to achieve the health and wellness you desire for life!