So, what’s your biggest health challenge?
In June I introduced our Summer System Reboot and suggested you take stock of three areas of your life: your health, your home (including your family) and your business.
This month I’m excited to help you drill down a little. I know it’s summer so we’ll keep it really simple.
Let’s start by addressing your physical health this month. Summer is a great time to bump up the exercise and start a healthier eating plan—since fresh fruits and veggies are so much more abundant.
Yes, I know, ice cream is calling you. That’s ok. Summer is certainly a time to enjoy some treats, but be mindful and observe the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, maintain a healthy diet and good habits and 20% of the time you can indulge a little.
So instead of thinking about giving anything up (I hate that!), let’s start by adding in some good things.
Try to create a rainbow on your plate—fruits and veggies of different colors so you cover your bases in terms of nutrition. Dark leafy greens, yellows and oranges and most importantly, deeply colored reds and purples that contain polyphenols that will help with oxidative stress and help reduce pain and inflammation.
If you must have ice cream, try having a smaller amount and cover it with some blueberries, raspberries or blackberries. Berries are low in sugar and so they’re a great choice. Make sure you read the label on the ice cream, especially for sugar content—the lower, the better. It can vary widely. Trying an organic brand is always best if you can find and afford it.
Or, skip the ice cream and have some frozen organic berries. Super delish! Add in some chopped nuts for a really satisfying snack. You can also try freezing some red or green seedless grapes. They taste like mini Italian ices. Who needs table sugar?!
Get moving and multi-task
The longer days take away our excuses. Get out daily for a walk—whether it’s first thing in the morning, on your lunch hour, or in the evening. Shoot for at least 30 minutes—which means walk only 15 min in one direction and then walk back. Thinking of it that way just makes it easier psychologically (at least for me). If you can’t find the time, do two or three 10-minute spurts throughout the day. Just move!
Use your walking time to pray the rosary or other prayers or to talk to God and just think. Skip the music and the podcasts…think, observe and listen. There’s beauty all around and it’s speaking to you. Remember, just like sunshine—silence is truly golden. Remember too, if you can get out during the day, you’ll also soak up some Vitamin D—another big plus.
Cut out sugar
(Oh no, she didn’t just say to cut out sugar, did she?)
Well, oh gosh, it’s hard to believe I did that, but yes, I did. I had heard about giving up sugar for years and, quite frankly, I reacted in, well…horror, to be quite accurate. I’ve been baking since I was 10 years old. I would literally bake thousands of cookies every year for Christmas (last I counted was 2,942). All of my warmest memories involve food—mostly cookies and pastries.
Giving up sugar was simply unthinkable. BUT, I finally took the plunge. I simply didn’t feel well, felt shaky, irritable, and bloated and starting having aches and pains so I cut it out. The results were startling. Almost instantaneously my joint pain disappeared. I started sleeping better. My mood improved. Along with cutting out sugar I cut out grains (which turn to sugar) and also went gluten-free. It was challenging at first but I have to tell you, I don’t miss it. On a special occasion I may have a little, but I actually don’t even enjoy it anymore. Give it serious consideration. Fruits are fine but choose those lower in sugar like berries and balance them with some protein like nuts. You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll start to feel.
For most people, just adding in a few healthy foods, extra exercise and limiting empty carbs can make a big difference. But if you’re one of those people who have tried everything to lose weight or to feel better, you may want to consider talking to a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner (FDN). More than a coach, an FDN is a health detective who can help you uncover the root causes of your symptoms and, using nutrition and supplements, to address them naturally and effectively.
We’re so happy to have Vincine Franchilli, FDN-P on staff to offer this service to you. Vinnie can help you get on the road to healing when conventional means have not delivered results. Contact her for a free consultation to see what she can offer you.
The bottom line
As a therapist, my focus is obviously mental health. But the bottom line is this: your physical health in intricately intertwined with how you feel mentally and emotionally. You can talk all you want about your problems and sure, it will help. But if you’re not optimizing your physical health, your mental health is going to suffer. It’s just that simple. More and more research shows that gut health is a big factor in mental health, which is why I’m so passionate about addressing the whole person and not just your emotional issues. Since you live in a physical body, maximizing your physical health will pay dividends mentally as well.
There’s no time like the present to get started. So let’s go!
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.
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