You’ve likely heard how inflammation can negatively affect your health, but I bet you haven’t really thought about the role it’s playing in your current health situation.
It’s sometimes referred to as a silent killer, and has a bad reputation, but inflammation is not necessarily always a bad thing. It naturally occurs in response to injury and is helpful when you get hurt or even if you over-exercise. It’s a healing response to injury that protects and heals.
The big problem is chronic inflammation that comes as a result of the amount of stress your physical body is under on a daily basis. Under the wrong conditions, your body has a difficult time healing and can lead to symptoms caused by this inflammation like:
While inflammation does play a major role in the development of chronic diseases, the great news is, we can control chronic inflammation through lifestyle and daily behaviors.
A few simple ways to naturally reduce inflammation:
1. Focus on whole food nutrition
Toss out the processed and packaged foods that are filled with sugar and non-food ingredients. Gluten, dairy, sugar, and hydrogenated oils are 4 of the most inflammatory foods. Replace these with healthier alternatives anytime it’s possible to begin naturally reduce inflammation in your body.
Opt for more nutrient dense foods like pasture-raised meats, wild-caught fish, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Snack on fruit and vegetables and fill your plate with lots of color.
Great anti-inflammatory food sources that naturally contain antioxidants include oranges, red bell peppers, kiwi, avocados, sunflower seeds, tuna, halibut, grass-fed beef, blueberries, blackberries, and acai. Sulforaphane rich foods are also an excellent source and include vegetables such as broccoli, broccoli sprouts, and foods in the cabbage family.
2. Add herbs and spices to your meals
Spices not only add flavor, but they have great healing properties. Once you remove the inflammatory foods, you can add antioxidants to help protect your body from cellular damage.
Using antioxidants to clean up internal damage can help boost your cellular health and that means you have more energy, you feel stronger in your body, you improve your mood, and your brain works better.
This can be as simple as adding antioxidant rich spices into your food. Those are things like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cacao, and oregano.
3. Make sleep a priority
Aim for a 10 p.m. bedtime. Your body runs on a circadian rhythm, which is around the sun. You release the most melatonin starting around 10 p.m. And your liver and organ repair starts shortly after.
Deep sleep is responsible for making sure you feel fully rested when you wake up, and it occurs early in the evening.
REM sleep makes up the last 4 hours and it’s when your body focuses on the mental and emotional aspects of healing.
A solid bedtime routine will help set you up for successful sleep. Wind down by using softer lights or lamps instead of bright overhead lighting. This will mimic the natural going down of the sun. Turn off your technology and devices 1-2 hours before bedtime since artificial light can disrupt your sleep.
Take a few moments before bed to process your day and take note of a few things you’re grateful for so you can fall asleep in a more joyful state.
If tomorrow’s to-do list is already running through your mind, keep a notepad beside your bed to jot it down and let it go. It will be there tomorrow when you rise.
4. Spend time outside and move your body
Outdoor sunlight and fresh air helps you reset your circadian rhythm and helps you soak up vitamin D. Weather permitting, find an outdoor hobby you enjoy. You could go hiking, walking, swimming, kayaking. When weather is not permitting, bring nature indoors by using plants and stretch out on a yoga mat.
Nature has its own immune system and within a few hours of being outdoors, you can boost your immune systems for up to 30 days.
Nature also reduces stress, which is closely linked with reducing inflammation and the symptoms associated with it. Make outdoor activity a priority for a few hours per week to reset your mind and body.
When you pair daily movement with time outdoors, you will significantly improve your mood, reduce pain, increase energy, and reduce stress, which will greatly impact your overall health and reduce inflammation.
So before you pop another anti-inflammatory, give these a try.
If you’re looking for a straightforward approach to improving chronic conditions such as thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, extra body weight, or other digestive issues and hormone imbalances, research shows that working to naturally reduce inflammation in the body is a great way to improve the quality of your life and health.
If you’re looking for a personalized plan to address your overall health in a more natural way, you can check out the details of my services here.
With all the hysteria going on in the world, I want to add a little bit of calmness to your day. 2020 added a lot of confusion into the health and wellness industry with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, the overwhelm and stress was crippling. And that stress may have exacerbated the situation. My effort is not to add to any confusion but help you navigate through any stressful situation to find health. Back in 2011, I was in New Jersey and got a violent stomach bug. Fortunately, the bug only lasted a day. Unfortunately, my friend got the same illness around the same time; her bug lingered for almost an entire week. What was the key to my quick recovery? It was and is my intentional effort to make sure I have a good and strong immune system. And I want to help you do the same! When you purposely boost your immune system and steward your health, you can maintain your health all year long. And you won’t have to worry about things like COVID-19 (or anything else like colds, the flu, viruses, and things like that) coming around because your immune system is going to take care of those things for you. COVID-19 is not the first serious illness that we’ve seen. And it surely won’t be the last! So my goal today is to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel – and that starts with your immune system.
How To Reduce Your Stress to Strengthen Your Immune System
Are you ready to stop worrying about things like COVID coming around into our environment? It’s time to step up and start taking care of your body. Here’s how to reduce your stress to strengthen your immune system.
Include Whole Foods Into Diet
Health starts with what you put in your body. And that starts in the kitchen! Health starts with a good diet. I spent many years, pounding down the sugar to feed my sweet tooth. All of those processed foods were destroying my immune system. Maybe you’re in the same situation I was in? Many of my clients wake up every single day saying these things:
“I can’t give up my cereal for breakfast.”
“There’s no way I can give up my favorite foods.”
The problem is that we’re so used to these convenience (and processes) foods. And while you don’t have to cut out everything, you do need to include more whole foods into your diet. In fact, whole foods should make up the bulk of your diet. You need the nutrients to build your immune system.
Take Supplements That Support Immunity
I also support my immune system by taking supplement vitamins and minerals every day. Biotics Research highlights that “During times of stress, your body is doing its best to maintain homeostasis or balance. It is trying to work efficiently, while attempting to reduce the effects of stress. This means it uses greater quantities of specific nutrients to stay in balance.” So why take supplements? Our foods are void of a lot of nutrients we need to be healthy. There are several types of supplements I use for myself or recommend for my clients to use.
Although I don’t take a multivitamin regularly, I do like having an all-in-one, everything-you-need pill. Metagenics makes PhytoMulti® , a multivitamin that has phytonutrients that support your overall wellness. Just remember that when it comes to supplementation, you can’t out supplement a bad diet. So you’ll still want to include good, nutritious foods in your diet!
Rather watch an 11 minute video with the same information….
I also recommend medical foods to support weak areas in your body. These supplements offer whole food nutrition to support specific processes in the body to prevent illness or heal disease. While I won’t go into a whole lot of detail in this blog, medical foods really help boost your immune system. You will want to work with a practitioner in the functional medicine field to determine the one’s right for you.
Herbs and Botanicals
Supplementing with herbs and botanicals (or adaptogenic herbs) counteract the impact of stress on our bodies. So while we are constantly bombarded with stress, this may be a good solution for you.
One adaptogen I use and recommend is Ganoderma. It’s also called Reishi Mushroom. My favorite company produces the highest quality Gandoderma in the form of coffee and teas – making it really easy for you to consume it daily.
Use Essential Oils
I love to use essential oils to intentionally strengthen the immune system. There are many different types of essential oils you can use for all different purposes – add to your shampoo, facial cleanser, cleaning products, etc. These oils are filled with anti-microbial properties and help boost your immune system instead of tearing it down. If you’re using regular countertop cleaners and cleaning detergents, you lower your immune system every time you’re spraying those chemicals. If you clean your home with essential oils and natural cleaners, you can actually boost your immune system. Plus, you get that beautiful smell and clean environment all at the same time!
Get Outside in Nature
I highly recommend boosting your immune system all year round by getting outside in nature. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve really been focused on getting out in nature to get sunlight on my skin. It’s amazing the healing properties that nature has. Walking in the forest actually boosts your immune system for up to 30 days. If you can’t go out on long nature walks or have a park nearby, all you have to do is to walk around your backyard. Try walking barefoot in the grass. Not only does that connect you with the earth, but it introduces you to ions that help you get rid of some toxins. Another benefit of getting outside is the fact that you are moving your body. Exercise boosts your immune system as well.
Practice Your Breathing
This is one you may not think about or take seriously, but practicing focused breathing can really strengthen your immune system. This can take place before or during calming practices like yoga, prayer, meditation, or a variety of other things. When I first start working with a new client, one of the first things we do is practice simple breathwork. There are multiple techniques that actually calm the nervous system down. Try to introduce slow or rhythmic breathing into your daily schedule or in moments of stress. When we’re in stressful situations, we begin to breathe fast and into our chests. But when we breathe into our bellies, there’s a physiological response that calms our nervous system, lowers our stress levels, and boosts our immune system. So when you’re in those heightened moments, breathe in deep, hold it, and release it while pulling your belly button into your spine. You’ll feel the shift within a few minutes.
Work On Your Mindset
Last but definitely not least is to work on your mindset. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns all the time. So we have a decision to make. We either focus on our fear, or we focus on keeping a positive attitude. For me, I stick with the latter. This season of quarantine and uncertainty is just that… A season. It will not last. There will be plenty of seasons like that. So make the best of it with the right mindset!
Prepare & Strengthen Your Body’s Immune System
At the end of the day, we can continue to live in fear or we can go out there and conquer the day. We do not have to let sickness rule our lives. How? By building and strengthening our immune system every single day. If you have any further questions or want a customized action plan, reach out to me for a free discovery call. Here to help!
And do it all while taking care of our families and work responsibilities.
With time, practice, coaching, and the right resources, we can all learn how to juggle these things…
But sometimes, a wrench is occasionally thrown into the mix – something we couldn’t have planned for or expected.
Right now, many of us are experiencing major changes in our normal routines as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Our gyms and yoga studios are closed, in-person social activities and faith services have come to a halt, our children are home during the day, and our work is being conducted remotely or not at all. So much unexpected change all at once can lead to a great deal of stress and impact our health goals.
Juggling just became a whole lotmore difficult.
If you’ve dropped the ball on some of your health and wellness practices, don’t let it stay on the floor! In this blog, I’m going to tell you about 3 simple ways to stop sabotaging your health goals – no matter what life throws at you (even a pandemic).
3 Simple Ways To Stop Sabotaging Your Health Goals
In times of stress, it’s very easy to overlook the things that are sabotaging your health goals. Here are 3 simple ways to avoid setting yourself back.
1. Stop Ignoring Yourself
The most important thing that so many people forget during their health and wellness journeys is themselves. Yes, that’s right! People leave themselves out of the equation. When was the last time you turned off auto-pilot to evaluate your mindset or tune into your body’s signals?
As you might already know if you’ve read my blog about stress, it can weaken your body’s immune system and disrupt your normal sleeping behavior. If you ignore your body’s stress signals, you are creating major limitations for yourself; you may find that you don’t have enough energy to complete your normal workouts or that you can’t get enough rest for recovery.
Instead of ignoring your feelings and hoping they will go away on their own, acknowledge them, adapt. This will allow you to begin counteracting their negative effects through nutrition or mindfulness practices.
Rather listen to an 8 minute video with the same information?
Use The Mind-Body Connection
Sometimes, the best way to stop ignoring yourself is to start talking to yourself. Okay – maybe not out loud if you’re in a public place. But this pandemic has created an incredible opportunity for you to retreat and rest.. Everything that we think, feel, and believe can affect our body’s biological health. This is called the mind-body connection. In this way, speaking negatively to ourselves can have a negative biological impact.
Instead, take full advantage of the way that your brain and body share a common chemical language by encouraging yourself to take an optimistic outlook mentally. This will foster energy from inside to reclaim your physical health. I’ve worked with many clients over the years to improve their mindsets and help them reach their visions of health and wellness using this approach.
Make Time For Wellness
When you’re focused on everything you can’t control, it is easy to forget the one thing that you can control: yourself.
For many around the world, we now have Stay-At-Home orders (or at least recommendations for social distancing). You can spend that extra time that you would otherwise by commuting or working and watch that TV series you’ve been meaning to watch. But after a few days of missing your regular exercise, your body will begin to express its needs to you. You may start to feel sluggish or tense. Don’t ignore it.
Here are a couple tips to make time for wellness (especially during this season):
Take Supplements Every Single Day
Take supplements everyday. Make it part of your routine, just like your morning cup of coffee. If you need help figuring out what your body needs, I can help direct you.
Eat Whole Foods. Use the time you would be commuting to cook your meals at home. You’ve been gifted this large amount of time to focus on you.
Implement More Movement
Implement more movement into your daily schedule. If you typically walk or bike to work and now you have been told not to commute in, this is something you don’t have control over. If you normally go to the gym before or after work and it’s now closed, the same is true. Try walking up and down your stairs if the weather is bad. See how many times you can climb them! Have your kids or spouse join you as you “climb the mountain”. Access tons of at-home workouts (many of which have been made free due to COVID-19). Take your conference calls on a walk (Zoom is available on mobile).
Spend Time In Nature
Get outside and spend time in nature. Lately, I’ve been focused on getting outside and in some sunlight. It’s amazing the healing properties that nature has. In fact, it boosts your immune system for up to 30 days. Take a walk or bike ride outside during the time you would normally be commuting to work. Your body will thank you.
Focus On Your Mindset
Meditate, breathe, and pray. Calm the nervous system by introducing rhythmic breathing and focusing on what the Lord is teaching you in this season.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Phillippians 4:6-7
No matter what life throws at you, you can always make time to take care of yourself. Energy is always present – don’t sabotage your wellness by letting it go to waste!
2. Avoid Comparing Yourself To Others
In times of uncertainty, many people turn to health and wellness experts on social media to see what they are doing to stay on track. They start comparing their own workouts, meal plans, sleep schedule, or supplements to those of others; however, this could sabotage your path to wellness.
How? Well comparison isn’t just the thief of joy; it can also be a major roadblock to reaching your wellness goals because what works for others, isn’t going to work the same way for you. One approach can bring phenomenal results for one person, while the same exact approach may not work at all on the next person. This is true particularly in regard to nutrition.
Not convinced? Let’s talk about exactly why comparing yourself to others is not a beneficial use of your time and energy…
Understand We Are All Built Differently
When it comes to everything from our muscle fibers and nutritional needs to our stressors and preferences, we are all different. This is why abiding by a one-size-fits-all plan will eventually lead you to a dead end.
Believe me! I’ve tried them all.
The truth is, we don’t all have the same genetics, body composition, environment, or disease processes. Because of this, building a health plan is a lot like cooking from a recipe. To make the best meal, you don’t always follow the recipe exactly to a “T”. Instead, the ingredients need to be adjusted to satisfy whoever you’re serving.
You wouldn’t give your lactose-intolerant friend your smoothie recipe that includes yogurt. No matter how delicious it is to you, it would cause them major discomfort. Instead, you substitute yogurt for something their body can easily digest, like almond milk.
The same is true when it comes to following a wellness plan. You don’t need an expert’s meal plan filled with a variety of boxed foods; their workout plan also may not be right for your body. These things will not serve you to the fullest capacity. In fact, it might even do more harm than good.
Instead, stop sabotaging your health goals by focusing on your own personalized approach to wellness.
3. Don’t Push Off Your Priorities
Now, breaking free of the comparison trap to focus on yourself doesn’t mean that you have to walk down your path to wellness all on your own! In fact, you should do your best to surround yourself with others that will hold you accountable.
Why is accountability so important? It is one of the most essential ways to help us avoid pushing off our health priorities.
When we set SMART goals for ourselves (check out #1 on last month’s blog post for how to set SMART goals!) and then life throws something unexpected our way, it is only natural for us to want to postpone our initial timeline for reaching that goal. Sometimes, this can’t be helped. But other times, we just need a friendly reminder to prioritize what is most important: our wellness.
“Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods”
Sticking to your priorities doesn’t mean that you have to carry out the plan exactly as you initially intended. But it does mean getting them done – one way or another. Releasing yourself from an all-or-nothing mentality will ensure you’re not stagnant in your progress towards wellness.
It is harder to let ourselves down when we know others are rooting for us too.
If you are having trouble finding others to foster accountability with in-person because of social-distancing or other circumstances, there are several other approaches you can take. For example, you can start a virtual accountability group with family or friends online with daily, weekly, or monthly check-ins.
Another great way to stay accountable is through having a health and wellness expert like myself coach you through your journey. I found this to be incredibly useful in my own journey, and that is why I am so excited to be a source of accountability for others like you. It makes all the difference.
I don’t say this to scare you, but COVID-19 won’t be the last illness that sweeps the world. Are you ready to step up and take care of your body, so you don’t have to worry about the next pandemic coming around (at least as much)? Fill out a discovery call form here if you’re ready to talk more with me about holding yourself accountable to your health goals and protecting your future.
P.S. Over the last couple days, I’ve been posting a lot of COVID-19 related things on my social media accounts to reduce stress and improve your immune system. Are you following me?
What comes to mind when you think about your picture-perfect image of health?
Do you picture a specific person?
Maybe an authority in the health and wellness community comes to mind. When we start our fitness journeys, many of us look to others who already have what we want for direction. We think… “If I can just do exactly what she does, then I’ll look and feel like she does too.”
Like a recipe, we start cooking up that picture-perfect image of health. We add each ingredient and follow each step exactly as the “recipe” calls for.
But, after a few months of hard work, we find that our results are lacking. Our image of health still doesn’t compare to that of our idols. We wonder…
Did I add too much of one ingredient by accident?
Did I make a mistake?
What am I forgetting?
Before we get into my 5 practical tips to achieving your health goals, we need to look at what the original diet looked like and why returning to the original diet can help you to reach those goals…
The Original Diet Was A Flexible One
Our ancestors likely got their food through hunting or foraging. They didn’t have grocery stores with a variety of food options year-round. With changing seasons, the types of food available to them changed. Our natural eating patterns are meant to change depending on our environment and our body’s needs.
Processed foods and foods sprayed with poisons and pesticides weren’t on the menu for our earliest relatives either. The original diet consisted of eating patterns that revolved around things found in nature.
Today, all the latest fad diets promise tremendous results for anyone who can stick to a strict set of rules-all the time, no matter what season it is, or what our body truly needs at any given moment. This can easily set anyone up for failure.
We were created to eat intelligently. It is the imbalance in our bodies when these diets do not give us what we actually need that has brought about cravings and the desire to eat foods that were not originally even meant to be eaten. While some people may adjust to digesting the altered foods of our modern society, others might benefit from eliminating foods that cannot be naturally processed or cause inflammation.
Fad diets do not consider the individual. How can we expect keto, paleo, or low carb to be the answer for everyone if we are all built differently?
Keeping An Open Mind Towards “Fad Diets”
Instead of treating fad diets like a religion, I approach them with an open mind. I try to understand what goes on in someone’s body when they alter their nutrition in a certain way, and make adjustments that are in-line with their natural needs.
Instead of subscribing to a particular diet, opt for the customization and flexibility you need to maximize your results and keep doing so overtime.
5 Practical Tips to Achieving Your Health Goals
Now that you understand why focusing on your unique biology is important for getting the most out of your health and wellness plans, let’s talk about these 5 practical tips to achieving your health goals.
“Success is the maximum utilization of the ability you have”
1. Get Crystal Clear on Your Goals by Making Them SMART
If you are not sure exactly what you want then you will never get it. What do I mean by getting clear with your goals?
They must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
More importantly, they must be SMART for you. Your goals may change overtime, but for now, start SMART where you are.
This time, when you think of your picture-perfect image of health, imagine the best possible version of yourself. How does this version of you feel? What do you look like? How far into the future will it be before you get there?
Remember to be realistic and specific to you.
2. Understand and State Your “Why”
If you were going shopping for a new outfit for an important business meeting, would you just buy the first thing you saw in the window displayed on the manikin? Even if the outfit looks great in the display, it might not look the same way once you try it on.
You need to have a goal in mind for what that new outfit is going to achieve. If the outfit on display is too flashy or too dull for the goal, it might hurt your chances for reaching that goal. So, you wouldn’t just go ahead and buy it anyway.
Think about your wellness plans the same way. Don’t just purchase a meal plan for the sake of purchasing a meal plan. Figure out what your BIG motivator is. Are you wanting to get healthy or to lose weight? Why is it important for you to get healthy or lose weight? Why is that meal plan so important for reaching those goals?
Once you figure out your “why,” you’ll be more prepared to customize a flexible plan that fits you and your specific needs. Without your “why”, you risk wasting your time on a plan that is miss-matched with your intentions.
3. Set Yourself Up To Take Action
Next, you need to set yourself up to take action. Are you a doer or a sayer? I have phone calls with sayers almost every single day. I want to talk to the doers.
Rather watch a 13 minute video with the same information?
The doers are the ones who are ready to take action toward weight loss, nutrition, fitness, and shifting their mindset so they can live their best life. If you dabble, you will only get mediocre results.
Stop and ask yourself, “are my words embodying my own truth, or someone else’s?”
Already set your SMART goals and identified your “why”, but you are stuck in taking action? Then it’s time to consider if you are using your unique strengths to their fullest capacity.
You can be a doer in many ways. You don’t have to do a workout at the same time as someone else. If you have more energy in the mornings, get your fitness in before work. If you have more energy after dinner, get in a bike ride with the family in the evenings.
Leverage your unique strengths and preferences to take action.
4. Take Clear Assessments of Your Results
Think back to item number one when I said you need SMART goals. My question for you here is… How are you measuring your progress? Are you measuring weight loss in inches or body fat percentage? Are you doing blood tests or other lab testing to see if you got rid of some of the pathogens that could be causing you pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea?
When we set goals, we must clearly assess the results to know if we are on the path to success.
The way you measure your improvements may be very different from how someone else measures theirs. That is totally okay. But the most inaccurate form of measurement comes when we compare our progress to that of others. This will not give you a clear assessment of yourself. Your journey is your own.
5. Be Ready to Change Your Routine
If you are giving it everything you’ve got and you are still not getting the results you want, then it’s time to change up the routine until you find what works. Everyone’s body is unique, and we are designed to adapt and change with the seasons. You must find what works for you and continue to listen to your body as your environment and needs shift over time.
Changing routine isn’t always easy.
But it becomes easier once we realize that many of the routines we follow do not actually serve us. Once we break free of routines that don’t serve us, we can open up to a healthy life that serves our greatest wellness potential.
Making a Serious Commitment to Yourself
Shift happens when you make a serious commitment to yourself. We shift when the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the discomfort change initially brings.
So let me ask you… What is one thing in your life you can use right now as leverage to facilitate change?
Are you having pain in your legs and knees because of your weight? Are you feeling a lack of strength because of poor nutrition? Is your doctor warning you about diabetes or other disease processes that may arise if you don’t start eating right and exercising more?
Change starts with a decision. The outcome you receive follows the choice you make.
A one-size-fits-all fitness plan acts as a temporary Band-Aid for the things your body and soul actually need. There is irreplaceable value in working with someone like myself who understands the science behind creating a unique plan for a person, including nutrition, exercise, stress reduction techniques, supplements, toxin removal, and the ability to shift mindset.
That’s exactly why I do what I do!
I help people change their lives every day through this process.
You don’t have to idolize the lives of those you see online. You don’t even have to ask for their workouts and meal plans. Just get clear on what you want, find the leverage to change, take action, and tweak things along the way.
Start with the five steps I outlined and let me know how you do. If you’re ready to have a mentor who prioritizes you and your personal journey to wellness, fill out a discovery call form here. I’ve had years of experience identifying personalized approaches to wellness for others, and I’ll be so happy to do the same with you.