5 Steps To Start Your Wellness Journey Today
It’s so great to see today’s spotlight on all things wellness, but sometimes it can be hard to know how to bring in more daily acts of self-care without blowing the budget at a spa or travelling to some far flung retreat (although count us in for that!).
One of our favourite Lustic Lifers and wellness specialist Charlotte Beales-Hart is sharing her top 5 tips for how to start your wellness journey (and stay the path!):
1. Ditch the processed stuff
If there is one thing that you do for your health, reduce the amount of processed food that you eat, or even better, eliminate it altogether. Of course there are a lot of foods out there that undergo a certain amount of processing and they are hard to avoid completely in the modern world, but some are certainly better than others.
As a rule of thumb, if a packaged foodstuff has more than 5 or 6 ingredients then try to avoid it if at all possible. Eat as much real food as possible – vegetables, fruit and whole foods like pulses, legumes, nuts and seeds. By doing so you’ll naturally “crowd out” the less beneficial ingredients like sugar, salt, inflammatory oils and complex carbohydrates you are consuming, and increase the more nutrient dense ones.
“Real” food reduces inflammation, promotes a healthy microbiome and strengthens our immune systems. If this seems overwhelming at first, start small and cut out one processed food a week. Consistent small changes over time make the greatest difference.
2. Drink more water
Depending on the climate and your level of activity, you should be drinking ½ oz to 1oz of water per pound of body weight a day.
Buy yourself a large 32oz or 64 oz water bottle (avoid plastics) and, once you have calculated how many bottles you need to drink, make it your mission to reach your daily target. If you don’t manage it every day, don’t give up, but aim to do better the next day.
Try it for a month and notice a change in your energy levels, longer periods of concentration, a reduction in food cravings, better sleep, clearer skin and a more regular digestive system.
3. Eat your greens (and reds, yellows and oranges)
We all know that it’s important to eat our vegetables, so why does it often seem so challenging to get 5 or more servings a day?
The more colours we eat, the greater variety of phytonutrients we will be absorbing, and this is good news for our microbiomes, heart and brain health and for reducing inflammation, among many other benefits.
A practical way of trying to increase the variety of colourful vegetables you consume is to create a “rainbow challenge” chart for the week, stick it on the fridge (or have it on your phone) and check off the colours as you consume them.
This is also a fun exercise to do with kids and encourages them to develop healthier habits.
4. Embrace a nighttime routine
Sleep, or rather lack of it, is a major problem for our long term health. In fact, the consensus is that we are in the middle of a sleep deprivation epidemic.
This isn’t just insomnia, but includes disturbed sleep that disrupts our natural internal rhythms. You might fall asleep easily at the end of the day but wake at 3am with a racing heart and buzzing mind.
So many people I know suffer from middle of the night waking, and it can be miserable.
When you sleep well it’s much easier to make better choices the following day. You crave less sugar and feel more energetic which, in turn, means you are more likely to exercise and take better care of yourself.
Whilst there may be many reasons for disrupted sleep patterns (including hormonal fluctuations, cortisol spikes due to a particularly stressful time of life, not to mention kids!) putting in place a night time routine that suits you and supports a restful sleep can help.
It can be useful to set an alarm on your phone for about 90 minutes before you actually climb into bed to sleep so you can start a period of winding down. Better yet, why not try the new Iphone Sleep Mode to put your notifications to bed!
It’s difficult, but around this time you should also close down your laptop or Ipad and start a no-tech period of time prior to sleep. Choose a ritual that appeals to you. Turn down the lights, light some candles, read a book, meditate, do some light stretching, journal, talk to a friend or your partner. Do something that minimizes emotional tension before bed. Try to avoid scrolling through Instagram. It’s hard but it will be worth it when you wake feeling refreshed in the morning.
5. Be kind to yourself
Embrace wellness as a journey rather than as a distant destination to strive for.
As in life, there will be inevitable ups and downs. Successes and failures. Every change we make to improve our health, both physical and mental, is progress. We are all bio-individual and what works for one person, may not work for the next.
Equally, what works for you this year may not work for you next year. We never know what will happen next in life.
That is why we must be kind to ourselves, accept progress over perfection, be grateful every day and focus on taking small steps that lead to bigger steps, that lead to transformation.
Charlotte Beales-Hart is a certified integrative nutrition health coach and focuses on partnering with women who are committed to working to become the most vibrant, balanced and healthy version of themselves.
After suffering her own health crisis and starting her wellness journey a few years ago, Charlotte is passionate about supporting women to take the small steps that lead to big transformation. She believes that everyone should invest in themselves to identify what works for them as an individual, create a “toolbox” of wellness tricks that make them feel their best and then stick to them as if their life depended on it.
If you would like to find out more about Charlotte’s wellness coaching programmes, or be added to her newsletter subscription list, please visit Island Nourish or contact her at email@example.com