Marching into Wellness
Welcome to March! How are we almost ⅓ through the new year already?! This month I want to focus on some healthy basics to help get you back on track if your new year’s resolutions have already fallen to the side as most of us have! So let’s talk about some basics of health and how you can support your lifestyle to promote a life of wellness and vitality.
What is health?
This seems like an easy question, but you get some interesting answers. I recently spoke about Chiropractic to a women’s group I am part of and I love asking this question. The most common answers are:
Not having sickness or disease
But is true health as simple as that? To answer this question, I have yet another question for you… When you are sick with food poisoning, are you experiencing a healthy response or a sick response? Trick question! You are feeling sick, but in fact you are demonstrating a healthy response. Your body is functioning exactly the way it needs to function in order to prevent you from truly getting sick. If your body didn’t appropriately expel the “bad stuff”, you would be in a world of trouble down the road.
So, how do we define health then? It’s clearly more than just how we feel or the lack of disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Health is looking at the big picture and the person as a whole. Not just bits and pieces. In chiropractic, we are concerned not only about how you are feeling, but more importantly, we want to know how your body is functioning. But, more on that later! Today, we are focusing on how you can support a healthy lifestyle without over complicating it.
The Basics of Health
Health and wellness are hot topics in today’s world. Everyone has their golden ticket answer on how you can be the healthiest version of yourself and live a long life free of sickness and disease. All of the recommendations can feel complicated and overwhelming at times, so it’s important to stick to the basics and keep it simple when you are starting out. Once you have a solid foundation of some healthy habits, then you can add from there. So what are the basics?
Drink more water
Get more sleep
Eat whole foods
Did you know that water makes up about 60% of your body weight? That’s over half!! Every cell, tissue and organ needs water to function, so you can see why this is so important to your health. Even mild dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, constipation and a myriad of other issues. Adequate water intake can help with improved digestion and brain function, clearer skin, better sleep, weight loss, improved cardiovascular health and so much more!
The basic equation of water intake is to take your body weight and divide this in half. This tells you how many ounces of water you should be drinking. So if you weigh 180 pounds, you should be taking in 90 ounces of water. If you are pregnant or live a very active lifestyle, you may want to be drinking even more. So start drinking that water!!
Mindfulness has been getting a lot of hype lately, and rightly so. There are so many daily stressors that can cloud your mind and it makes relaxing and recovering challenging for your body. Practicing mindfulness can take many forms and it’s important to find a technique that works for you and your lifestyle. Not all of us have an extra hour to meditate during the day, and that’s okay! All I ask is you take 5 minutes a day to sit and reflect on your day, how you felt and what you can change to make a positive impact in your life. And the biggest thing is to not judge yourself for how your mind wanders during this. Part of this exercise is to get to know yourself better, so it is all part of the process!
Interested in learning more? A great place to start is at mindful.org. They have a lot of free resources and materials to help you on your mindfulness journey.
Sleep is an important pillar of health and a great indicator of where we are at on the wellness scale. We spend almost ⅓ of our day sleeping (even more if you are a kid!) and it’s extremely important to make sure that we are getting the right amount of sleep that is deep and restful.
So how much sleep do you actually need? There are a lot of factors to take into account and it varies from person to person. The general recommendation for adults is 7-9 hours. Children’s requirements vary greatly by age and if you need further guidance I would check out the sleepfoundation.org for more details.
Here are some basic recommendations to help you get a restful night of zzzz’s:
Stick to a bedtime schedule (even on weekends, try to keep it as close as possible)
Have a relaxing bedtime ritual that doesn’t involve electronics and TV
Get daily exercise (more on that below!!)
Evaluate your sleeping area to ensure its at an appropriate temperature, quiet and dark
Make sure you are sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillow
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and alcohol right before bed
Eat Whole Foods
Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed with all the diets that are out there today? From low fat to high fat, vegan to meatatarian (I might have made that last one up!), but there are so many different types and choosing the right one can feel like an impossible task.
So what can you do? The same thing we have been talking about so far. Keep it simple! One thing that (most) of the successful and popular diets have in common is a focus on whole foods and eliminating processed foods full of chemicals, additives and hidden sugar. So when you are grocery shopping, a good rule of thumb is to stick to the perimeter of the store where whole foods are generally kept. It's the aisles that suck you in with their sugary treats!
Not only does regular exercise help you FEEL better with improved energy and moods, but it also helps your body FUNCTION better. Elevating your heart rate, sweating and building muscles all help your body function at top notch and gives you added benefits such as improved immunity and decreased chances of developing diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Similar to diets, there are also a million different types of workouts out there to make things complicated and confusing. So where should you start? With the basics!! Cardio, strength and stretching are three fantastic places to start. Simple things like 15-20 minutes of walking per day and simple exercises you can do at home will get you on the right path. My favorite exercises to perform at home are push ups, squats and lunges. These three simple exercises will give you a full body workout and engage your core so you can have a simple place to start to keep your body functioning and feeling good.
Last, but definitely not least, it’s important to get your spine checked regularly by a Chiropractor to make sure your spine is properly functioning and your nervous system is free from interference to allow you to function at your highest potential.
My favorite patients (I know, I shouldn’t play favorites, but I just can’t help it!) are the ones that come in just to get checked. Not because their back hurts or they have a headache, but because they understand the importance of having a properly aligned spine and that they function their best when their nervous system is at 100%.
Yours in health,
Dr. Alisha Freydenfeldt, DC