Not only can regular exercise help to speed up metabolism and refine muscle; movement is magic for improving energy levels and keeping stress at bay.
When it comes to preventing illness and disease, exercise is hugely valuable. In fact, regular exercise has been shown to be as effective in helping to prevent heart disease as medication, and only 150 minutes per week capable of reducing the risk of diabetes by 58%. In fact, those 150 minutes per week of health-boosting exercise can increase your lifespan by 3.4 years.
Studies indicate a link between exercise and experiencing more positive, happy thoughts and feelings, with those active amongst us less likely to suffer from mental health issues. Exercise can improve mood, reduce our levels of stress, and increase our self-confidence, as well as preventing age-related cognitive decline and the risk of developing dementia.
Regular exercise can also help us to achieve better sleep. Our circadian rhythm – aka the 24-hour cycle of mental, physical and behavioural changes all living beings experience based upon how light or dark it is – is strengthened by exercising; allowing us to more easily feel more awake and alert during the day, and to sleep tight at night.
Too tired to cram a workout into your day? I get it. The thought of exercising when you’re frankly just way too tired is grossly unappealing. But it’s actually one of the best things you could do: any form of low-intensity exercise, even walking, can reduce fatigue and boost energy by 20%.
My top tips for motivating yourself to find thirty five times per week?
- Find an exercise that you love! For me, it’s dancing and yoga. Get out there and give everything a try until you find the kind of movement that really excites you.
- Grab a friend! Motivate each other and make it a regular thing. It’s not as easy to let a friend down than it is to decide to pull out of a solo workout, so partnering up = commitment.
- Schedule your exercise! If you can diarise and make time for those meetings and appointments, why not those thirty minutes that could help you live a longer, happier, and healthier life?
- Move out of love! Move because you love to, because you love your body, and because you love treating that bod of yours with the respect it deserves. You’ll find your motivation to move increases tenfold when you do it out of love as opposed to a fear of body shame.
Stress means something different to each of us. But I’m sure we can all hold up our hands and admit that we do feel it: the irritability or anxiety; the headaches or insomnia; the desire for a ‘stiff drink’; the quickened breathing, and increased blood pressure; the tummy ache; the muscle tension; that ‘run down’ feel. You know the feels? Yep.
So what can we do about it?
- Stress commonly presents within our bodies as a need for a ‘flight or fight response’ – aka, something scary that we need to deal with by either running from it, or facing it with guns blazing. The most common example in this scenario is stumbling upon a wild lion (which, let’s be honest, is not a common day-to-day stressor). How do we flick this response off when we’re not faced by a lion, but by a too-long to-do list, a looming deadline at work, or an argument with a friend? The breath. Slowing the breath literally tells our bodies that we’re safe. So do more of that!
- Reconnect with nature. There isn’t much that I find more calming than being close to the sea. Negative ions are abundant in nature, but especially around the surf, nearby a waterfall, or following a storm. Negative ions stimulate our bodies’ defensive cells, improving our resistance to illness and disease, and also promote alpha brain waves, allowing us to feel more aware. Immersing ourselves in areas of negative ion concentration undo many of the ill-effects stress has on our body (from mood, to appetite, to pain and healing).
- Let’s say you’re terrified of this looming deadline at work. You have no idea about how you’re going to get everything done in time, and you’re majorly stressed. In fact, you’ve spent the last three days so overcome with stress and worry that you’re no closer to finishing. Hold up, honey. Let’s have a real think about what needs to be done, and how you can get it all finished – write it down, nut it out with a friend or loved one. Break it all down, and realistically put aside some time each day to dedicate to just one task at a time. And, ask for help! Delegate what you can, get input from anyone and everyone who might be able to help. Don’t go it alone.
- Accept the imperfect. Whatever it takes, learn to accept what it is in life that you can’t control. If there’s something you can’t change, no matter how hard you try, stressing over it just isn’t going to make a difference. So why stress over it at all? Focus on those things that you can change or perfect, and find enjoyment in them instead.
- Learn to say no. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Understand and get to know your limits, and accept them. Because all that stress that comes from overdoing it? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Adopt an attitude of gratitude. According to Forbes.com, practicing gratitude not only improves mental and physical health, but also works wonders for our self-esteem, sleep patterns, and relationships with others. Being grateful also allows us to better understand, support and accept others without it negatively impacting ourselves.
Think of a few things you’re grateful for in this very moment. Anything and everything, big or small. It could be for the meal you just ate; for your gorgeous BFF, partner, or family; for the roof over your head; for the opportunities that have come into your life; for reading this eBook, and taking the first steps towards your happier and healthier life! Anything that makes you feel something wonderful, in some way.
Now, write them down. Sing your list from the rooftops. Go around the table and talk them through with friends or family at dinner.
Oh, and don’t forget to actually thank the people you’re grateful for – leave a little thank you note for them, send them a quick text or email, whatever. It doesn’t take much to make the both of you feel great(ful).
We all feel healthier and happier when our energy levels are bursting at the seams, our skin is clear and glowing, and we’re ready to tackle anything that’s thrown our way. And akalising could be just the step in the right direction that you need.
Our body is naturally slightly alkaline – that is, our pH level naturally should sit at around 7.4 for optimal health. Acidic foods, including sugar, dairy, and just about anything processed, can tip your pH totally off balance.
Adopting an alkaline diet, full of healthy whole foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables, leafy greens, avocados, olive oil, quinoa and other whole grains, and herbal teas, can help us to live longer. There are links between an alkaline diet and enhanced memory and alertness, slowed ageing, improved digestion, improved immunity, and decreased muscle loss.
Yep, a happy and healthy life is definitely alkaline. Just another reason to eat more whole foods, and cut the crap.
There are five places in the world with surprisingly high percentages of people living to 100 years old and beyond, known as ‘Blue Zones’ – a concept by National Geographic explorer and author, Dan Buettner.
Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, the Ogliastra region in Sardinia, Loma Linda in Calif, and Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. What do these places have in common? Their resident communities eat mostly plants. In fact, Blue Zoners eat meat in 85-115g serves just five times a month, on average.
Want to live a long, healthy life like a Blue Zoner? Think legumes (beans, peas, lentils), leafy greens, seaweed, sweet potato, turmeric, garlic, brown rice, green tea, barley, gennel, almonds, tomatoes, avocado, oats. Oh, and a lot less sugar.
Side note: sex, naps, quality wine (opt for organic where possible), and great friends also work wonders for longevity.
Slow down, eat less, and eat mindfully. The foods you use to nourish your beautiful body with, and the hands that lovingly prepare them, deserve it.
Take the time to notice the individual tastes and textures on your plate, and how they feel in your mouth. Taste, experience and appreciate every single ingredient. Eat silently. Close your eyes for that first bite. Try eating with your cutlery in your opposite hand, or putting down your fork in between mouthfuls. Take the time to really enjoy your food – no distractions, and no rush.
There’s a strong link between eating mindfully and the prevention of overeating. By slowing down, we’re more easily able to ascertain whether or not we actually really need that second helping. It takes between 10 and 20 minutes for your brain and stomach to communicate with one another, so why not let your body decide for itself whether you’re still hungry or not?
It might feel funny the first time, but practice makes perfect when it comes to eating mindfully. And boy, will it be worth it.
Think about how much time you spend looking after those around you. Now, back to you. Not quite as much?
Find time for yourself. Scratch that. MAKE time for yourself. Make your life, your health, your happiness an absolute priority. Do more of what makes you happy. Laugh, love and live more. Heck, book that ‘me time’ in if you have to. Breathe, stretch, take a bath, book a massage, get a pedicure, go for a walk, write in your journal – whatever it takes to have you feeling great. My favourite day of the week is ‘Self Care Sunday’ – where I make sure that I put aside even a little time to do at least one nice, kind, loving thing for myself.
Looking after yourself is in no way a selfish thing. In fact, when we’re feeling our best we give everyone else our best, too (and far more easily!). As one of my favourite healthful life advocates, Melissa Ambrosini says, “if you don’t take time out for yourself, you’re doing yourself and everyone around you a disservice”. Fill your cup before you fill anyone else’s.
And, finally, be aware of the voice in your head that’s holding you back from living your healthiest, happiest life, but don’t buy into it. Grab your life in both hands, and live it with love and never out of fear.