(Photo via Coveteur)
10 Pro-Health Practices to Make Every Day a #WellnessWedesnday
Some of the most helpful advice I have ever received was from a Berkeley-based Naturopath named Dr. Elizabeth Korza. I was first advised to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle for health reasons in my early 20s, but I was both overwhelmed and skeptical. Giving up gluten and dairy was not easy to do then or now; a lot of the time I honestly repeat an Obama quote (“ Food is fuel,” which I read in an excellent Vanity Fair article) to keep up morale. I felt like a failure daily when cravings for gluten and sugar sabotaged my efforts to get my health on track. It was discouraging, to say the least.
That's when Dr. Korza offered up a piece of motivating wisdom that I have held onto ever since: "It doesn't matter if you fall off the wellness wagon, just get back on."
I am always exploring new ways to make healthy living more accessible, but it took me many years to get the basics of an anti-inflammatory diet and low-stress lifestyle down to an art. (Maybe more like a solid routine.) In a perfect world, I would wake up, have coffee and a detox shake, feed and walk my dogs, and head to yoga, before getting started on my work for the day.
That being said, life happens. Since moving, I have stuck to this schedule on one day only: today. Busy schedules and competing demands on our time are the norm, which is why it is important to learn how to be mentally flexible when working self-care into your schedule. As with most things, it's all about balance. I have had to find ways to make my health a priority when other important parts of my life demand attention (i.e. my relationship, deadlines, work events, etc.). I have done this by accumulating a wide tool-kit of wellness practices to choose from in almost any situation.
Even when I don't stick to my ideal writing schedule, I can fall off my green-routine when I have looming deadlines, appointments, trips, and important plans that I can't miss. Just yesterday, an entire day seemed to escape me before I made time to tend to my wellness, all because of a doctor's appointment with my naturopath down in OC. The first thing I did when I got home (other than walking my dogs) is #1 on the list!
Below, I offer up 10 wellness-promoting activities to consider that keep me motivated when the wellness struggle is REAL. While their benefits will be enhanced cumulatively, the effort it takes to complete just one is worth it — especially when you’re pressed for time
I struggle with meal planning which is why I love ordering SunBasket. It's one of those meal prep delivery services, similar to Blue Apron, but designed for clean diets. I follow an anti-inflammatory diet that requires that I eliminate certain foods like dairy, gluten, certain meats (which I don't eat anyway), and even certain produce (i.e. mushrooms). I am also supposed to seek out organic, non-GMO foods and produce. Depending on your dietary restrictions, SunBasket lets you customize your meal selections to meet your needs.
I had a long day yesterday and barely had time to eat. When I came home, I cooked up some Kimchi Fried Rice from an all-organic recipe using produce and ingredients delivered right to my home. Having the prepped ingredients in the fridge and the recipe on-hand made it so much easier to whip up a healthy meal even though I had taken zero time to prep or plan. (Photo via SunBasket)
(Photo via Instagram)
2. Transcendental Meditation
I first learned the TM method during graduate school and fell in love with the practice, which can be done literally anywhere. When I incorporate it into my daily life, I notice a major difference that grows over time. I haven't been keeping up with it, though.
To get back in the groove, sometimes I sign up for Deepak Chopra/Oprah Winfrey meditation challenges. For 28 days, they guide you through different meditations to help you get in the habit. This week, I simply set a timer for 10-20 minutes and have been focusing on my mantra until the alarm goes off — even though being startled by an alarm is not ideal. I like setting the alarm to the "chimes" ringtone so that you aren't uncomfortably startled awake.
I adored my yoga studio in OC and would walk to yoga classes for 60 minutes of hot yoga most weekday mornings. Since moving, I haven't been keeping up with the same intensity of my former class schedule. I toyed around with free streaming sites like DoYogaWithMe, but finally decided to re-start my subscription with YogaGlo.
YogaGlo lets you choose from countless classes taught by various instructors in different yogic and meditative disciplines, including a super rare form of yoga that I love called Kundalini yoga. This morning I completed a 30-minute Vinyasa Flow class from my laptop that made me feel great, like I started my day off right. Even though it annoyed me that I didn't make time for it yesterday, it still feels amazing to do what I can, when I can.
(Photo via EatRight.org)
I take a number of different doctor-recommended vitamins and supplements along with my naturally compounded Thyroid medicine. They include vitamin D, a methylated B-vitamin blend that is compounded by my naturopath, Dr. Kelly McCann, Ortho-Biotic probiotics, and sometimes more! Since I am prone to forgetting, I rejoice on those days when I remember. Tip: If you take fish oil, be sure to buy it from a reputable brand that won't be contaminated with heavy metals! I trust Nordic Naturals.
5. Detox Shake
My personal OG holistic health goddess is the naturopath Dr. Gabrielle Francis. I recently purchased her Detox Shake kit, The Rockstar Remedy. I used to drink these religiously each day, but definitely forgot for the past few. This morning I blended one up in my VitaMix... and drank half. But I'm stoked to have gotten half of those valuable, medicinal nutrients into my life! Tip: This also rocks as a meal replacement when you are pressed for time.
My shake contains: organic strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries; 1 TB organic flax oil; 1 Scoop Veggie Cleanse; 1 TB PaleoGreens; 1/2 tsp Probiotic Synergy; 1 TB PaleoFiber; and water or almond milk. These are all available for purchase on Dr. Francis' website.
6. Bulletproof Coffee + Octane Oil
I struggle with focus and attention, so my doctor recommended that I try Bulletproof Coffee. It is mold-free (I am sensitive to molds) and combines wonderfully with a brain function-enhancing blend of superfood oils. You can buy them both on Amazon. Tip: Add Almond Milk Creamer.
I am a huge fan of CBD, a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis that is an incredible anti-inflammatory agent with zen-inducing properties, as well. I have written about it here, and believe in taking it whenever possible. You can use it in topicals, tinctures, drops, drinks, and even your skincare products. Tip: You can buy some for yourself in a drink at Café Gratitude, or some Veterinary CBD for your pup.
(Photo via The Local Rose via Brit + Co)
8. Dry Brushing
One of my best friends does this every single day! I don't but I totally wish I did. It promotes your body's lymphatic function (i.e. detox), improves circulation, can help smooth cellulite, and can help prevent ingrown hair. Read more about it here. Tip: I have heard great things about this body brush from Saje Wellness In the Buff Body Brush ($16) and there are a couple great anti-cellulite oils I know of by Daily Concepts Renewal Oil ($12) and The Organic Pharmacy Detox Cellulite Body Oil ($68).
9. Clean, Green Face-Mask
Even Tom finds face masks soothing. I personally am not a huge fan of sheet masks because I hate feeling cold, sliminess all over my face. Regular face masks, I'm totally fine with. I am obsessed with one raw, food-grade, clean skincare line in particular because I am convinced it is the healthiest skin food around — LOLI Beauty. Lately I have been using these two DIY face masks constantly: LOLI Beauty BIY Calming Matcha Mask ($106) + BIY Matcha Glow Mask ($144).
10. Walking my dogs.
I am so obsessed with my dogs. I have two miniature schnauzers, Jackson and Delilah, and they enrich my life so much. I am so in love that Jackson used to get monthly blueberry facials and body wraps at Fido & Co. in San Diego, and they each take more vitamins and supplements, like Because Animals Superfood Supplement for Dogs ($20), than most people I know.
With the exception of Lilah's wiliness, spending so much time with them is 100% healing. Getting to spend quality time with Jax and Liles is a wellness activity itself, but when I am forced to take them on walks throughout the day for a million pee breaks/Delilah's tiny bladder, it is a helpful reminder to practice Mindfulness — particularly because I just want to get back to work — while taking a grounding walk through nature.
Healer, Heal Thyself
My belief is that basically anything can be wellness-enhancing when practiced with the right intention and mind-set, even if you aren't Gwyneth Paltrow-level perfect. No matter how many wellness-enhancing activities you do, or how well you think you complete them, taking the time to prioritize your self-care already warrants a pat on the back. Sure, the benefits are cumulative, but taking the time to do any 1 of these activities is better than doing nothing!
This motivating mindset worked wonders for me. I used to be absolutely brutal on myself — I had a mentality that second place was a failure, and that B stood for "bad." Since nothing I did was ever good enough, my motivation to even try was low. Once I took the pressure off, and began feeling good about my intentions, efforts, and successes, my inner-resistance lessened considerably.
Of course, it took time and repeated attention — which is why it's called a practice. Overcoming my self-judgmental attitude took the intentional cultivation of awareness and repeated effort, but in time, it worked.
My profession had been that of a healer, but I was being ruthless to myself. Finally, it dawned on me that the very same compassion, empathy, kindness, and forgiveness that I could cultivate endlessly for others should also be turned inwards towards myself. This is the crux of holistic health.
(Photo via The Roanoker)
For some of us, it's easier to be good to others than to ourselves. But that's why learning to be your own biggest cheerleader and an endless source of self-love and support is critical. Just like the saying, "Healer, heal thyself," planting the seed for a wellness practice in your life will ultimately grow into a new mindset and world-view.
Since I am basically a mystic trapped in modern society, I have to share my favorite part of the story. On my path to healing a disease characterized by my own immune system attacking my own body, I discovered that self-love is a beautiful component of self-healing. Now, my immune system is back to its intended job of protecting me (not harming me); in the process, my inner-critic — which had been eating away at my self-confidence and motivation — transformed into my biggest motivational support.
I'm not saying that my change in mind-set caused my body's realignment with its self-preserving function — it was the elimination of gluten and dairy, and the incorporation of a phyto-thyroid hormone compound that did that. But, I do find their dual transformations on the physical and emotional levels of reality to be telling. By the time I became aware that my inner-world had gone from being hostile, to being nurturing and kind, my immune system had already followed suit and was once again supporting my body's physical health. Do you see the parallel? If so, welcome to the world of holistic health — and the continual process of bringing your health and life into even greater alignment.
P.S. If any of this doesn't make sense to you, that's ok! Ask me and I'll try to explain!
What are your pro-health practices? Tell me on Instagram!
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