As the New Year is upon us, it is again time to assess our health and set goals for the coming year. Stress, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition are killing us slowly. Always remember that truth is timeless. There is no magic pill or potion for health. Spend your time, money, and energy focusing on the following eight essentials of health and you will feel better and live longer.
- Breathe properly: breathing is one of the most powerful tools to counteract the body’s reaction to stress, decreasing muscle tension, lowering blood pressure, increasing good hormones such as Human Growth Hormone, and lowering stress hormones.
- Drink more water. Your body is 60% water so make sure to replenish it. Water helps to cleanse and filter the toxins out of your system. Drink water throughout the day and eliminate sodas, colored water (Gatorade, etc…), and energy drinks.
- We literally become what we eat. Eat whole foods. In other words, eat foods in their natural state and avoid foods that come from a box or a bag.
- Sleep 7-8 hours per night. Lack of sleep accelerates the aging process and is associated with cancer, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes.
- Move more: exercise is one of the best and most simple tools for health. Lack of exercise increases risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
- Get 10 minutes of sunshine per day: sunshine is our primary source of vitamin D, essential to our health.
- Relax: Take time each day for an activity such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, Tai Chi, music, laughter, or prayer. Relaxation techniques decrease stress hormones, which cause high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and osteoporosis.
- Attitude is everything: strive to have a positive attitude every day. Be grateful, forgive, let go of the things you can’t control, and love each other.
This 30-minute daily routine is a way to multitask for better health. And it is a great way to start the day. This routine addresses 7 of the 8 essentials of health:
Take a brisk walk in the sunshine while listening to music and/or praying. When you return home from your walk, perform the four controlled breaths (see below) while focusing on positive thoughts and/or prayer. Follow this by a big glass of water and a high protein, healthy breakfast (see below). These foundation elements of health when practiced regularly are more powerful than any medication. I guarantee that this routine practiced daily will transform your health and your life.
Controlled breathing (the 4-7-8 breath):
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Healthy breakfast ideas: ditch the cereal, bagels, and breakfast bars. Processed breakfast foods are devoid of the protein and nutrients that we need to maintain optimal health. Instead, start your day with protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and fruits or veggies.
- Greek style yogurt with organic seeds, nuts, and fruit (fresh or dried)
- Ezekial bread toasted with peanut or almond butter topped with thinly sliced apple and a drizzle of raw honey
- Hard or soft boiled or poached eggs with fruit
- Omelet with veggies topped with a little feta or goat cheese with or without a slice of Ezekial bread
- Steel cut oatmeal topped with nuts (pecans, almonds, or walnuts), berries, and honey
- Smoothie (make sure it is high in protein with fruits and veggies)