In my last post, my Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach Kerry and I discussed some answers to questions from customers related to everything from Celiac Disease to stress and skin issues, to cancer.
Kerry promised to walk you through "the low hanging fruit" that you can start with on your health journey.
What is this ‘Low Hanging Fruit’ I’ve been alluding to?
And how do we pick it?? :D
In the Functional Medicine world these are the Modifiable Personal Lifestyle Factors:
- Sleep & Relaxation
- Exercise & Movement
- Nutrition & Hydration
Essentially these are the areas of your life that if addressed, could potentially lead to improved health outcomes. Easier said than done, right?
As a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach, this is where I do my work. Once a person has a diagnosis, or an area of their life that they know needs attention, we can dig in and get to it!
As I talk about these lifestyle factors, think about how you personally are doing in each area.
Have you nailed that?!
"Yeah, I kinda got that."
Or do you think, "boy, do I need some serious help here!!"
You could also ask yourself, “If I was able to improve in this area of my life, how would it impact my life?”
1.) Sleep & Relaxation are so important to our overall health. Pretty sure we all know that, however getting that 7-8 hours of sleep per night can be challenging.
Contrary to popular belief these days, binging on our favorite streaming app is not pre-bedtime relaxation! (Though I am so guilty of a good binge session!)
Putting together a time of relaxation & preparation for bed will look very different for each of us.
Typically it’s an hour or 2 of unwinding, unplugging, and decompressing before plopping your head on the pillow so that you can sleep.
Basically you're telling your body & brain, "it’s time to make that shift from go, go, go, to rest & recover." Whatever helps you do that is great!
Maybe it’s diffusing some calming essential oils, writing in a gratitude journal, doing a meditation, or belly breathing.
My favorites are making a to-do list for the next day, and leaving it away from the bedroom, using my Lavender Hard Lotion bar, wearing an eye mask to block out all light, and 4-7-8 belly breathing.
If I really can’t get my racing brain to shut down, I will count backward from 300 by 3’s.
Sounds wild, but it really works by exhausting my brain!
Let's move on to the next one:
#2 Let’s just call this next one Movement.
I say this, because when we hear the word exercise many of us shut down.
Done! Talk to the hand!!
Start small. You don’t need a gym membership and tons of expensive equipment. All you need is a desire to move.
BJ Fogg, author of “Tiny Habits” started his exercise program in a very unique way. After he came out of his bathroom, he would do 2 push-ups.
Once he created that Tiny Habit, it built in him the confidence to do more, and he expanded it from there. I love his saying, “People change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.”
Think back to a time when you did an activity you really enjoyed. What was that activity? Could you do it again? Maybe there’s an activity you’ve wanted to try……..try it!
Tap into your bravery & creativity as you explore your options. Be willing to try a couple of different things until you find the right fit. Keep in mind, an activity that was fun at 20, might not be at 55. ;)
#3 Nutrition & Hydration
We could just camp for days in nutrition.
Instead, let’s meditate for a moment on the words of Jack Lelane, one of the original fitness gurus. When asked at 85, what he ate everyday to keep him so young & fit, he simply responded, “If God didn’t make it, I don’t eat it.”
And there it is! If you can hunt it or harvest it, eat it. Pretty simple.
Eating the rainbow is a perfect place to start. (Skittles and M&M’s do NOT count!) :P
The goal is to eat 2 from every color, everyday. Start with one. Get creative, and experiment with adding as many colors as you can into one meal.
My food hack for this is smoothies & stir frys! Check! Check! Check! :D Add in some healthy fats, like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, fresh herbs, and some grass-fed beef or chicken, and you’ve got a party on your plate, people!! I’m getting hungry!
Here’s a pretty simple formula for hydration: half your body weight in fluid ounces per day, plus 8 additional ounces for every hour of physical activity.
If you’re like, "oh my gosh, I will be going to the bathroom all day!" Have no fear, your bladder expands like your stomach. Slowly increase your intake until you hit your target. I really like BIG water bottles, or a pitcher that can hold all that I need to drink in a day. It is so much easier to keep track. Honestly, who can keep track after the second glass??
Stress is a part of everyone’s life. Some stress is actually beneficial. The type that needs to be addressed is the type that is causing your blood pressure to go up, digestive problems, sleep problems, even skin issues can be caused by stress.
The list is long, and varied.
There are so many stress reducing practices. Once again, it’s all about what resonates & works for you. Just because it works for your BFF, does not mean it’s for you. This is a journey. Experiment freely.
Reducing your stress may look like a walk in the woods with your dog, breathing in the fresh air & clearing your mind. It could be taking a couple of minutes in your car before going in your house to do 5 rounds of 4-7-8 breathing. Inhale through your nose for 4 counts, hold for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8 through your mouth. This simple, short exercise will switch you from ‘fight or flight’, to ‘I’m safe’ in just moments. It could even be signing or dancing for as long as time allows.
Lastly, in the bottom of our Functional Medicine Matrix, is relationships. That’s like a box of chocolates, huh?! If only they were all espresso filled, and the bad ones were as easy as taking a bite & putting it back in the box!! :D
Determining which relationships are building you up, and which ones are sucking the life right out of you is the start. Often we don’t even think about the effect different relationships have on us.
Bringing in some mindfulness around this area can help you determine where you want to invest your relationship time and energy. Which relationships are actually having a negative impact on your health?
I feel like I’ve given you an orchard to pick from. I encourage you to only pick one piece of ‘fruit’ this time around. Pick something that you feel will be easy, and start small. This will set you up for success, which will motivate you to go back and pick another piece of ‘fruit’ later.
Enjoy the journey. If you need help, you know where to find me! ;)
Find Kerry at www.rootcausecoach.com