When it comes to practicing mindfulness, do you feel like it’s just not your bag?
When hearing about cutting sugar, do you feel like you don’t really consume THAT much?
Even if you’re somewhere in between, if you’re looking to live a healthy life it’s crucial to understand the science behind why overconsumption of added sugar can actually decrease your lifespan, and how adding mindfulness practices can prolong your life.
Whether you’re participating in the January Health Challenge or not, we focused on adding or avoiding the following during the first week:
- NUTRITION: Nixing Added Sugar & Processed Foods
- FITNESS: Adding Daily Movement
- MINDSET: Adding Mindful Moments
It safe to say that oftentimes, when it comes to our health, it can be easier said than done. Health & wellness tactics need to resonate with us individually, be purposeful to us specifically, and stick around consistently. Here you’ll learn about the WHY and HOW to keep that motivation burning & your healthiest self churning.
JUST A LITTLE BIT OF ADDED SUGAR AT EACH MEAL & SNACK ISN’T A BIG DEAL, RIGHT?
Wrong. A little goes a long way and it all adds up, leading to silent, systemic inflammation. To spare you a lengthy, scientific explanation, here are some quick digestible (no pun intended) bullets on what happens if you continue to fall victim to your sugar cravings:
You’ll Burn Sugar Instead of Stubborn Fat:
- Eating or drinking sugar spikes our body’s blood sugar. Blood sugar is a gangsta party of glucose (read: sugar) in our blood that is carried to ALL cells in our body to supply energy.
- If your body continues to rely on sugar for energy, it will not burn fat for fuel, leading to an accumulation of body fat. So while that froyo or handful of Skittles may be “fat free” your body will work in overdrive to burn the sugar, but not the fat you’ve been trying to burn off.
- The peak & valley cycle continues as you’ll crash after a blood sugar peak, then will crave sugar all over again while you’re in the valley.
- You already know that sugar is the mere definition of “empty calories.” Sugar provides absolutely no nutritional value. So you’re essentially choosing to add calories & burn sugar instead of fat when you succumb to a sugar craving.
- Did you know that our gut is literally a second brain?! There’s an entire ecosystem of bacteria and a vast neural network operating in our GUT! And while our gut doesn’t perform deductive reasoning or write poetry, it strongly influences our MOOD.
- We have both good & bad bacteria living in our gut, and the bad bacteria LOVE refined sugar. They THRIVE off of it, multiplying the bad guy army and killing off the good guys.
- Having more bad bacteria than good leads to: gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation and inflammation. Symptoms of inflammation include fatigue, body aches, head aches and joint pain.
- Added Sugar = Added Sugar = Added Sugar
- There’s nothing special or “better” about honey, maple syrup, agave or blackstrap molasses. If it didn’t occur naturally, as in a piece of fruit, it’s added, it’s unnecessary, and it’s making you less healthy.
- You can join the January Day Challenge at any time to receive even more valuable knowledge on foods that make us more unhealthy than healthy. Our Facebook Group members have been sharing surprising foods where they’ve discovered added sugar & how they’ve dealt with giving it up, and it’s been truly insightful.
STRETCHING IS FOR OLD PEOPLE & I’M TOO BUSY TO GET A REAL WORKOUT IN.
Perhaps this season you have other priorities than getting fit, but daily movement & stretching for energy & mobility is key to living a longer, healthier life. Here are some quick reasons why you NEED daily movement in your life & how to git after it.
Why is Basic Movement & Mobility So Important:
- Exercise generates energy, and even if you’re not “officially exercising” decked out in your latest high-waisted Athleta leggings, walking as much as possible every day & performing 5 to 20 minutes of basic stretches every morning will generate the energy you need to accomplish your life goals.
- The more energy you have, the more likely you are to be happy and strive for whatever it is you want in life – career, health, relationships, etc.
- Exercise reduces stress, and stress is the ultimate energy & well-being killer. Stress slows down the production of new brain cells, reduces serotonin & dopamine (which are critical to your mood) and triggers your brain to feel frazzled and forgetful.
- Exercise makes you smarter. It increases production of brain neurons that create the ability to learn faster, remember more, and improve overall brain function.
- Believing that you don’t have TIME for morning stretches or daily walks is actually an oxymoron. Stretching & flexibility actually BUY you time in the long run! If you’re sharper & more on the ball, you’ll be able to plan & perform better, all BECAUSE you got your daily movement in. Ya feel me?
- Stretching every morning (even in bed or next to your bed) and/or every evening (even Netflix & chill time) will loosen up your body so you’re not carrying around so much tension.
- Join the 21 Day Reset any day of the year to receive daily reminders to move that bod of yours to lengthen & strengthen your life. Our active & supportive Facebook Group offers countless ways to connect with health seekers with similar passions & thoughts, feelings and habits.
I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MEDITATE & I DON’T SEE THE BENEFIT.
Newsflash: Practicing mindfulness does NOT mean you have to “meditate.” Below are several ways to practice and HOW it will benefit your overall life … including prolonging it.
How Can I *Easily* Be More Mindful:
- Mindful Breathing: Simply put, put all of your attention on your breath. If thoughts arise, don’t fret, acknowledge them and go back to focusing on your breath. Work on increasing the length of your inhales, the length of holding your breath at the top of the inhale, and the length of your exhales.
- Body Scan: Focus your attention on different parts of your body & begin to relax each one on your exhales. Starting from your head and working down to your toes or vice versa. It’s a chance to notice any tension you may be holding, like a clenched jaw or tight shoulders.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Similar to the body scan, but here you will actually tighten the muscle, then physically release it & feel it melt away. You’ll become more aware of the contrast between tension & relaxation. Perfect for wandering minds, as you’ll be actively working in this mindful practice.
- Visualization: Simply picture yourself where you want to be. It could be at this point in your life, or 5-10 years down the road. Just be as specific as possible. Consider all 5 senses during your visualizations to reap the full benefits.
- Meditation: We finally get to mediation. The purpose of this practice is to develop your focus & concentration, as well as compassion. While it’s common to sit or lie down during meditation, you can also be walking, knitting or cooking. The goal is to maintain relaxed breathing and focus. You may also want to repeat a word or mantra to help maintain your focus.
- The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to come back to focus. Whether it’s during a conversation or reading a book, it’s easy to lose attention. Practicing mindfulness trains your brain to come back to the present quicker & easier.
- Studies have shown that people with consistent mindfulness practices had less cognitive decline, slowing cellular aging than those who practiced less frequently.
- Your relationships will blossom as part of your increased engagement in your conversations. Loneliness has been coined a killer, so fostering & strengthening our relationships have proven to literally increase our time on this planet.
- Mindfulness practices have been shown to decrease insomnia. More sleep equates to more energy & less fatigue, allowing you to do more of what’s important to you, promoting more happiness and a healthier well-being.
- No matter what you’re striving for in life, what’s the point if you’re not really there? Meaning, you can check off the boxes of your daily to-dos, workouts, visits with family & friends, but were you really there, in the moment, fully engaged? Practicing mindfulness will help you get there, stay there, and be there for longer.
- Try any of the tactics above any time you have just a few moments to yourself. Consistency is more important than duration. So a daily practice for a few minutes a few times a day will give your brain significantly more benefits than once or twice a week for 15 minutes a pop.
- Join our Facebook Group to share common roadblocks, setbacks, wins and tips with ladies just like you who would love to be more mindful, but haven’t quite added it to their routine yet.
And now, it’s your turn!
- What food or drink with added sugar could you reduce, substitute or completely avoid so you can reduce your body’s inflammation & prolong your life?
- Instead of hitting the snooze button or checking your phone in bed the moment you wake up, can you treat cho self to a few minutes of gentle stretches?
- What moments during your day could you designate a few minutes of mindful breathing?
I’d love to hear your feedback and help you through any obstacle your dealing with in becoming your healthiest set. Comment below, email me via the Contact page, or reach out on any social platform (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) @WholeHardy. If you join the 21 Day Challenge at any time, you’ll get daily tips, reminders, motivation and challenges from me via email, text or our Facebook Group.
Let’s be purposeful and diligent about the process of becoming our healthiest selves.
Lots of Love,
PS: Want to be first to know about upcoming challenges, what’s hot in health news, and fresh new recipes? Sign up for my weekly WholeHardy Health Hacks!
PPS: Want some yummy & healthy fall recipes? Click here to try my clean & healthy stew, chili, butternut squash, stir fry, and more.