7 Simple things you can do now, without paying a cent, to optimise your health
I used to be that gym freak who spent endless hours in the gym hitting weights. I’m not knocking it at all because it did bring me an immense amount of fun, focus, friends and one or two muscles 🙂
My thoughts then, were that training, followed by eating were the most important things for my health. I soon realised that my nutrition was probably more important than the training I was doing. I used to spend copious amounts of money on the gym, supplements and food each month. My knowledge improved when I began experimenting and learning much more about health and wellness. My goal is to help people be healthier and happier and to also make people aware that you can be healthy, without spending much money at all.
The truth is that each of us is different, we are going to enjoy different things and also experience varied benefits. We are unique in our own right, which is important to remember whenever you read articles which offer advice, including this article 🙂
Always do your own research and experimentation to find out what works for you!
Everything I write about is based on years of experimentation, on and in my own body, together with reading 100’’s of books and articles. I’m no expert, doctor or scientist — I’m a logicalist and knowledgealist (and someone who digs inventing words!) Basically I rely on being logical and practical through the knowledge I have gained.
This is my non-exhaustive list of things we can all easily do more of and be better at, to improve our wellbeing, at no extra cost financially whatsoever!
1 — SLEEP MORE
For many of us, our lives these days are so busy. Probably because we are our own worst enemies and get caught up in this steamroller of a lifestyle. I once read a quote which said, “If you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road!” — which holds some truth, but we can circumnavigate that, if we really want to. At some point that steamroller is going to run out of steam, if it doesn’t take care of itself.
Up until now, the science of sleep has been something which was not that well researched. Fortunately there are people like, Matthew Walker, who has written a book which I highly recommend everyone adding to their bookshelves called — Why We Sleep.
The evidence is startling to what the benefits of sleep brings us. More concerning, are the issues it creates when we don’t get enough of it. For pretty much every human on this beautiful planet, we each need between 7–9 hours of sleep. A large majority of us are not getting enough, which is preventing our ability to be healthier, is not giving our bodies enough time to repair and in many cases the by-product is illnesses like cancer, alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease etc. In the U.S. more people are killed on the roads by sleep deprivation than drink and drug driving combined. Take your sleep seriously.
2 — DRINK MORE WATER
As an adult your body is made up of around 65% water. Using logic, that should be enough to go…”Ok, it’s pretty important!!” Our bodily functions, like digestion, require large amounts of water to filter our system and to process, breakdown and assimilate our food and the nutrients correctly. We need water to excrete toxins and other waste from our body, through sweat, urination and faeces.
While you sleep you sweat, which is partly why you weigh less each morning. Having a glass of water, first thing after waking up, is like adding gummy berry juice to your system (If you remember the Gummy Bears, you’ll know what I mean!).
Even better is to add a little salt to the water, to help replenish your electrolytes and maybe some lemon too, which helps to balance your PH levels.
Struggle with bad breath — try more water
Struggle going for No 2’s — try more water
Want to lose weight — try more water
You’ll be surprised at how the simple things in life, can pack such a punch. It’s a good idea to try have a minimum of 2 litres of water per day.
3 — CHEW YOUR FOOD FOR LONGER
How often do you wolf your food down in a matter of minutes?! It takes such a long time to prepare a nice meal and then we go and ruin it by taking 5 chews per mouthful and finishing it in 5 minutes. Most of us will literally have the next fork loaded before we have stopped chewing or swallowed our current mouthful of food!!
I can’t express how important it is to chew your food properly for two main reasons:
1 — The mechanical part of our digestion begins with chewing. The chewing then kicks off the chemical part of our digestion and gets your saliva flowing (your mouth is probably watering at the moment, just thinking about it!! Haha)
Your saliva has an enzyme called Salivary Amylase, which starts to break down the starches (carbs, sugars) in the food you eat.
To experience amylase in action, chew on a cracker for a minute and you will find that it starts to taste sweet. Most of us never experience this because we don’t chew food for long enough. The more we chew, the smaller our food particles become. This also means there is more surface area for our digestive enzymes to start working on and to break down the nutrients we need for our body to function properly. Even if you’re eating a healthy diet but not chewing properly, you are losing out on many healthy nutrients, which may never have the chance to be broken down and released to your cells.
2 — By chewing more and for longer, you will invariably eat less food. The reason for this is that it takes you longer to finish a meal. By taking longer it allows your stomach and your brain to sync up and confirm that you are actually full. Most people only get this feeling after a second portion, but after the second portion they are actually ‘stuffed’!! Chew slow and give yourself 15 minutes after finishing a meal, before deciding if you want a second portion or dessert.
4 — SIT UP STRAIGHT
The statistics are rather staggering on how many of us suffer from back pain and then other issues related to back pain. The majority of us are nowhere near as mobile and active as we should be because we are sitting at our desks in non-ergonomic chairs, working for 8 hours a day. Most of us slouch and that’s just because we are human, we get tired and that’s what happens.
Try be conscious of your posture in most situations, at your desk, eating food, watching TV etc. Having a strong core is important for our bodily structure and framework. We can each take incremental steps to improve it and try sit up straight for a bit longer each day (You probably just did it right now!).
You can also get a standing-up desk or a sitting on the floor (with crossed legs) desk. Forget doing sit-ups to get that 6-pack, try sitting up straight more often with your shoulders back too and you’ll see those little 6 or 8 muscles start popping out 😉
5 — INHALE FROM YOUR BELLY
Do you ever take note of how you breath? Just sit there for a second, close your eyes and feel how you breath. What do you notice? For a lot of us, we are shallow breathers, we breath from our chests. Try maybe for just 10 breaths each day, to inhale from your belly so that it expands first, then your chest follows and then exhale. Oxygen is the one thing which we literally cannot do without. Using logic again…we can last a few days without water, maybe a few weeks without food, but oxygen…a few minutes maybe and you’re a goner. For me, that places it high on our list of importance. By breathing deeper a few times a day, we can oxygenate our body more, to help increase the functionality of every system in the body. Deeper breathing also helps to detoxify and release toxins when you exhale and release carbon dioxide.
6 — GO FOR A LEISURELY WALK
This may sound like a simple and silly one, however, it is still an action we can do more of.
It’s great and important to do ‘Intention Based Exercises’, like going for a run, doing a yoga session, or hitting the weights. Going for a nice leisurely stroll allows us to unwind and take things in. Throw in your earphones and listen to a Podcast, or some music, or call an old friend. Even better, just go without any electronic equipment, look up at the sky and listen to your surroundings and be conscious of what is going on. There are a lot of healing and purifying benefits of giving yourself these moments.
7 — TAKE A COLD SHOWER
Most of us in the western world, never even venture here. I for one, am a super wimp when it comes to cold water!! I always had this fear of it, ever since I was a kid. I once competed in a swimming race and the water was so cold (for me) that it made me have an asthma attack and I never finished the race. Only as an adult have I faced the fear and started taking cold showers, as well as cold and ice-baths to combat that fear.
There is now a lot of research around the benefits of taking a cold shower or at least having some exposure to cold water. Among many benefits, it can help with improving immunity and circulation, speed up muscles soreness and recovery. So start your shower with 30 secs cold water and then go to warm or hot. There is a great man, called Wim Hof, who has used himself as a test lab for cold exposure. He certainly takes things to the extreme, which hardly any of us could handle. It’s still worth trying to at least have a short cold shower, once a day or once in a while.
Never mind the physical benefits, it’s just a nice challenge to try have a cold shower and to get uncomfortable for a short moment. It also helps us to appreciate the fact that we have access to hot water on demand, whenever we want it which is truly a privilege.
I personally jump straight under the shower when I turn it on and get a nice cold splash for about 20 seconds before it warms up. That way I save a ton of water and help the environment while at it.
Thanks a stack and keep experimenting and being awesome.