Every day, there seems to be some new gimmick that emphasizes weight loss and “high-school skinny.” There are thousands of advertisements, drinks, supplements and programs that prey on women’s insecurities.
While having a fit body does have its perks, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have achieved balanced well-being. A healthy lifestyle comes from feeding both the mind and the body through positive and sustainable habits and experiences.
Get At Least 7 Hours of Sleep Per Night
While this may seem like a no-brainer, seven hours of deep, restful sleep can be difficult for a lot of women to get. According to Women’s Day, 35 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep every night. You already know that lack of sleep can lead to exhaustion, but did you know that it can increase your risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes?
“Sleep deprivation slows your metabolism and increases your appetite,” says Michael Breus, PhD, a psychologist and sleep disorder specialist. This means that to make up for lack of sleep, your body will crave foods that are high in carbs, leading to possible weight gain.
One easy way to combat this is to drink a cup of chamomile tea an hour before you go to bed. This relaxing, herbal beverage doesn’t contain caffeine and it still hydrates you. You could also try a glass of tart-cherry juice an hour and a half before bed. This contains melatonin, a natural sleep aid, and has been shown to help people sleep up to 39 minutes longer. Other tips to improve your ability to get seven hours of sleep per night could include reducing pre-sleep anxiety by physically writing a list of things you want to achieve the next day, turning off all electronic devices like TVs, phones and tablets at least one hour before bed, and creating a “sleepytime routine” where you go through the same motions each day to prepare for bed.
Take A 20 Minute Walk Every Day
This is an absolute breeze. Twenty minutes isn’t even a full TV episode! According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should do at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week – all it takes is 20 minutes per day to get your heart rate up and your blood flowing. Especially for those women who work in sedentary offices, it is incredibly important to keep moving and raise your heart rate.
If you’re struggling to find the motivation, try having an accountability buddy. A step counter is also a great start to set goals and keep track of how far you are walking each day. Perhaps even make a playlist of your favorite songs that last the length of your walk. There are so many ways to start and keep yourself active through just walking 20 minutes per day, and your body will show the results!
One Meal a Day = All Natural
You do not have to be on a fancy paleo-only, gluten-free, dairy-free diet to do this. All this requires is that there is absolutely no processed food in at least one meal per day - totally attainable! Highly processed foods include man-made foods that commonly include artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils. This means the foods have had ingredients removed from or added to them. Eating these “fake” foods over time can deplete the body of essential nutrients needed for it to function properly.
So, how do you tell from the real food from the fake? Anything that is grown from the ground or is a natural part of the world with nothing added or taken away from it. Look for whole foods that you purchase in their original, natural state. If you’re not in the fresh foods section of the store, then immediately look at the label. If you come across any dyes, added sugars, or ingredients you can’t pronounce, then it is definitely not natural.
Do 10 Minutes of Daily Meditation
Before you skip over this one and brush it off because you think you don’t have the time or attention span to dedicate to mindfulness and meditation, your mental state is the key to the success to the rest of your well-being. A strong mental state will guide you through and be your rock to continue your healthy journey.
Dr. Herbert Bensen, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Bensen-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, told Harvard Health Publications about his study about mindfulness awareness programs that, “Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response.”
“Mindfulness meditation” involves focusing on your breathing and bringing your mind’s attention to the present. Dr. Bensen suggests thinking of appreciating what you have, where you are, feeling the rhythms of the natural world around you and paying attention to what it and your body is telling you.
If you need a little mindfulness boost, there are many apps for your mobile phone that can even do 2-minute, 5-minute or 10-minute guided meditation exercises.
The Bottom Line
Taking care of your mental and physical well-being doesn’t have to be a hassle for women. By making these four simple changes this National Women’s Health Week, your entire being can start experiencing the positive effects that result. Even something as simple as drinking more water throughout the day or saying 10 more kind things to people as part of your daily mindfulness can change your outlook. Once you take care of your mind, body and soul, your health is sure to follow.