It appears that over the last 50 years our natural inclination as human beings has been to search out the best life hacks and short cuts to optimum health that we can as the speed in which we live our lives increases.
Whilst historically our exercise routine may have fallen into house husbandry- the essential day to day jobs such as collection and chopping of logs to light our fires or the hours spent tending our animals and vegetables it has now become somewhat of an addition to our working day.
It is this feeling of it being an “addition” that I feel is the very thing that makes it appear like more of a chore in some cases rather than an enjoyment and we can find ourselves dragging our feet to the gym.
There are companies like The Good Gym which I think are brilliant who are bringing the idea of purposeful exercise back into our psyches. Instead of using all that energy up on a treadmill you can do gardening or heavy lifting for those people who are unable to do it like the elderly and run home afterwards!
This is exercise with purpose. Something I think we need to return to as part of our commitment to helping our planet.
Eating with intention is similar. Understanding the nutritional profiles and benefits of certain foods over others can help you feel more empowered and help you take your health in the direction that you want to.
I have made a list of the things which I have implemented into my lifestyle over the years that encompass exercise and nutrition and have made the most difference to me.
Making time for personal reflection
Whether it is 15 minutes or half an hour, taking a moment out for yourself in a busy day allows you to gain a sense of perspective on what is going on in your life. During this time take some deep breaths and to assert some positive affirmations for the future.
Deep breathing and grounding
This needs further expansion (forgive the pun) but seriously breathing deeply has so many positive benefits.
By taking deep breaths, your heart rate slows, more oxygen enters our blood stream and ultimately communicates with the brain to relax, increasing your endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals. Breathing stimulates the lymphatic system- the system that detoxifies the body. Breathing is responsible for 70% of cleansing the body of toxins (the other 30% is through bladder and bowels). If you do not breathe fully, your body must work overtime to release these toxins.
It also improves immunity. When your blood is fully oxygenated, it carries and absorbs nutrients and vitamins more efficiently. This in turn increases our energy. The more oxygen that is in the blood, the better our stamina.
Alongside breathing taking 5 minutes a day to walk bare foot on the earth can have incredible anti-ageing effects for the body as it allows the absorption of negative ions from the earth which act as natural anti-inflammatories.
Going Gluten free
Taking gluten out of my diet improved my energy levels, skin, digestion and mood. Whilst a lot of people don’t appear to have obvious effects from gluten just the way so much of our modern food is manufactured (particularly bread) means what we are eating is usually quite devoid of nutrition, rather indigestible or full of unnecessary additives and pesticides.
It is an interesting experiment to try for 6 weeks and see how different you feel.
Go Green and Raw before 4
Having something raw and green at lunchtime such as a salad with seeds and a nourishing olive or hemp oil dressing is great for increasing our enzymes important for adequate digestion which naturally reduce as we age. Organic, raw greens are packed full of nutrients. Digestion of raw foods is most effective before the hour of 4pm so try and avoid after this time as it can affect your sleep otherwise.
Walk a day…
I have long advocated walking as the best form of exercise to my friends and family. The runners I know swear by running but my feeling is walking puts less pressure on your important knee and hip joints which we know take the greatest wear as we age.
A key part of a good walk in my opinion is the incline, so you can feel yourself perspire and really engage every part of your body to push you upwards.
I like to walk first thing before breakfast to increase my metabolism and set myself up for the day. Continuing the idea of exercise with a purpose, my walks always include my 3 dogs and I will generally bring a basket with me to forage whatever is in season!
People ask me if there are particular foods or supplements I recommend for feeling amazing. Whilst I have one supplement I couldn’t live without which I will name in a moment there is one food that I am obsessed with, and that is hemp.
I have it with my cereal, yogurt or porridge in the morning. I use organic shelled hemp and I often combine this with cold pressed hemp oil. It is one of the most complete foods on the planet containing all your amino acids so a really balanced form of protein especially good if you don’t eat a lot of meat. The essential oils in hemp are incredible for maintaining youthful skin, hair and supple bones.
Cold water Swimming
A german man named Wim Hof has bought the concept of cold water swimming to the masses. He used it to cure the depression he felt after the death of his wife and has been motivating people ever since to embrace the cold in order to combat mental health issues, boost immune systems and cure chronic disease. In the UK now there are plenty of books on wild swimming spots and we are lucky enough to be a smallish island where you are never to far from some wild water! Having grown up in Guernsey it has always been a large part of my life. Down in Devon now I try and go 2 or 3 times a week in the river below where I live and its wonderful that the people who I have introduced to it over the years can now not live without the cold water in their lives.
I mentioned above that I have one supplement I couldn’t live without and that is Magnesium. It is easy to spend a lot of money on the pills that people recommend. Over the years I have refined it down to one. Magnesium is our stress mineral. It is the one that gets depleted most quickly in our modern day world and without it our body finds it hard to switch off. It is necessary for our muscles to relax and lack of it can lead to sleep problems and anxiety. I buy it in powdered form from Solgar – it is worth spending money on a good quality source and add it to a bottle of water at least once a week to keep yourself topped up.
I invite you to try some of the above for yourself. Let me know how you get on!