Nutrition, Fitness, and Mindfulness Practices that Improve Your Health
by Gretchen Hoechner
Ever wonder, “Why are my knees making cracking noises when I walk down the stairs?” Or, “Why can’t I wear high heels like I used to without getting pain in my toes?” But mostly, “Hey Doc, can you please wave your magic wand and get rid of these wrinkles on my forehead?” To which his answer is usually, “I’m sorry to tell you, but it happens to all of us: It’s called aging.”
As we age and grow wiser, we have likely noticed the days of underperformance were the days our diet suffered. Or, the days we easily lose focus were the same days we put off our normal exercise routine. Mental health and physical health are concordant; one simply cannot exist without the other.
When people hear the term “holistic,” they immediately picture acupuncture needles, essential oils, or being stretched out on an inversion table and balancing gem stones on their forehead. While those things can be effective holistic health practices, you don’t have to go to extremes to experience a heightened sense of overall health and well-being. Here are three ways you can become holistically healthier through fitness and mindfulness practices in your daily life.
Gut & Brain Connection
Holistic health is a lifestyle, not a diet. With hundreds of diets on the market, figuring out which foods work to make you feel your absolute best without depriving yourself of essential nutrients is tough.
Thankfully, when you look at the body from a holistic view, it’s simple. Gut health and brain health are the two most essential organs in feeling and looking our best. Our gut helps to keep our body’s immune responses and inflammation under control. The human gut is home to 100 trillion microorganisms and gut hormones that influence our cognitive ability. When we focus on giving our bodies whole, nutritious foods, benefiting both the gut and brain, we’re actually helping to improve our minds and bodies.
More gut and brain health experts are recommending anti-inflammatory foods like green, leafy vegetables, celery, beets, broccoli, salmon, bone broth, and pineapple. These foods can regulate the immune system and impact the way inflammation affects your body. Plus, eating these foods helps to keep diseases caused by inflammation at bay, i.e. heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and acne too.
Sugar is the main culprit of inflammation, but it’s also important to monitor dairy, alcohol, and fried foods.
Stretch and Breathe
With yoga centers popping up in almost every corner of Nashville, it’s no secret that this ancient practice is popular and for good reason. Benefits range from increased flexibility and muscle strength to improved energy and mood. Bending, stretching, and breathing should not be overlooked when developing yourself physically.
We all experience varying levels of anxiety and stress (“stress” being the fancy word for “fear”). But it’s what we do with those feelings that can allow us to either grow or paralyze our progress.
One of the most powerful ways to stay positive and resilient during intense times of stress and uncertainty is to practice gratitude. It’s nearly impossible to be angry and grateful at the same time. This practice can be as simple as writing down three things that you’re grateful for every morning or sitting down for a 20-minute guided meditation. Try walking through a park without headphones on. When you’re with a close friend or loved one, think about all of the things that you appreciate about them. Take time to connect to your breath, either through yoga or solitude. It is what gives us life and will connect you to your true needs and desires.
There’s a reason doctors call their work a ‘practice.’ Our bodies are dynamic beings that are constantly evolving just as the environment around us. Be patient with yourself as you focus on changing and refining your wellness journey. Putting these nutrition, body, and mindfulness tips into practice can dramatically improve your health. Balance is key to living a holistic life. Instead of jumping on the latest five-day juice cleanse or fasting for 72 hours, try a simple adjustment to one area that you may have been neglecting.
In order to feel more balanced in all areas, remember these helpful pointers:
Stay curious—It’s easy to get comfortable and complacent in our health and wellness journey. Try mixing up your routine. Try out a new vegan recipe if you’re normally a meat eater. Slow down by doing a yoga class if you’re an avid CrossFitter. Download a beginner’s meditation app if you never allow yourself to sit in silence.
Listen to your body—Your body knows what it needs. It’s important to tune in for the purpose of recover. Common messages your body could send you can include, “slow down,” “rest,” “breathe,” “stretch,” etc. Don’t ignore the signs.
Embrace fear—Starting a new wellness routine isn’t easy and can expose parts of ourselves that make us feel inadequate in areas that we thought we were strong. Remember that no one has all of these areas perfectly in shape, we can always improve. The goal is to get to a place where you feel centered.
Find the routine that works for you—Some people are able to focus on their health and wellness first thing in the morning and others feel better waiting until the end of the day. No matter what, be sure to find time when you’re able to fully give to yourself.