5G, wifi, tax brackets, high school math — so much of daily life is mercilessly fast-paced and complicated. You want to slow down, but life won’t let you. You want things to feel easy, but you’ve forgotten your password for that app. And the last thing you have the energy for is a complicated “life overhaul.” Believe it or not, there are some simple rules for healthy living that don’t involve an appendix to your to-do list.
The idea of running off to a wellness retreat may be a personal fantasy. Turning off your phone, going to yoga classes, sitting down to brightly colored meals prepared by gurus of organic plant nutrition….Wouldn’t it be dreamy?
As wonderful as such an escape would be, going home with lasting benefits may not be so simple.
Rules for healthy living are available to everyone, not just those who can afford the best of everything. They involve a mindset of feasibility, accessibility, longevity and enjoyment.
And, while a few days of wellness immersion may re-set your commitment to clean living, simple rules for healthy living exist right where you are. Right here. Right now.
Contrary to the madness that seems to keep our world spinning, living a healthy life is, in large part, about getting back to basic.
Here are 5 simple rules for healthy living that can make a dramatic difference in your life:
- Eliminate processed foods.
If it comes in a box, can or nuke-able plastic bowl, you can bet it’s loaded with preservatives, additives and sugar.
Eating foods purchased from the middle aisles of your grocery store is the equivalent of putting toxins into your body. And added sugars in the form of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are the worst.
They lead to increased inflammation and insulin surges that increase the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. They also lead to degenerative diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Trans fats are another popular additive in processed foods. Next time you look at a box of Twinkies or moonpies, imagine devil horns sprouting from the eternal-shelf life tempters.
- Nourish your body with real, whole foods.
Stick to the perimeter of your grocery store when shopping, and start in the produce section. Walk through slowly and look at all the vibrant colors. Notice that everything looks as it does in nature prior to being harvested.
Those colors and textures are loaded with life-benefitting nutrients — vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, healthy fats.
If you can’t afford to pay the “organic price” for all your food, at least buy organic for the Dirty Dozen.
Include complex, unrefined carbohydrates and whole grains, as well. Then learn how to build a healthful, energizing diet from these nourishing “real” foods.
- Dance to the music.
Whatever activity you enjoy, do it. And do it regularly. Your body is designed to move, so indulge its yearning to experience its own strength and endurance. Engage with nature. Lift weights. Turn off your inner critic and turn up the music.
Exercise improves your blood values, increases your testosterone and growth hormones, decreases depression and the risk of chronic disease, and boosts energy.
Sleep is nature’s nurse. It is your body’s behind-the-scenes healing mechanism. Your body needs it. Your brain needs it. Your mood needs it.
Create a ritual of sleep and honor it. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, turn off all light and noise stimuli, and strive for eight hours.
- Minimize stress.
Perhaps the most understated of the simple rules for healthy living is minimizing stress. It’s the one life hack that doesn’t fit into a shopping cart and can’t be measured in reps, miles or hours.
Stress is, however, the one silent troublemaker that creates “leaks” in your life, allowing unhealthy habits to sneak in. An after-work drink sounds better than an hour-long workout. A Pop-Tart is so much easier in the moment than sautéing a bunch of vegetables. And sleep is for sissies when there’s a big commission on the line.
Before you know it, you’re going against all the rules for healthy living. And the cortisol production set off by stress drives fat straight to your belly, increases your risk of chronic disease, and impairs your metabolism. Simplify and focus on what is essential…and what brings you authentic joy.
By embracing simple rules for healthy living, you increase your chances of sustaining healthful habits. Enjoying the beauty and blessings of life doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. It is most readily available when you invite into your life those sources that nourish you in body, mind and spirit.