Creating Healthy Habits

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Originally posted as: Creating Healthy Habits [November 2016]

Today we're going to talk about healthy lifestyle habits.

I have spent a lot of years in the world of natural health trying to decipher why I lack energy. I have come a long way – from reacting to almost every meal; catching every cold or flu that went around; experiencing daily headaches and quarterly migraines, suffering from really bad periods, etc. – to where I am now; which is in a place with very few headaches (no migraines), a much happier gut, way less period pain and a stronger immune system.

Despite this, I still believe that there is more for me to learn and that my overall energy could be better. So I continue to take courses, read books, participate in regular detoxes, dabble in essential oils, homeopathy, herbs, etc, as well as see an maya abdominal massage therapist, osteopath, physiotherapist and occasional visits to the chiropractor.

Currently I'm participating in Ari Whitten's Energy Blueprint program; reading Amy Myer's The Thyroid connection; Releasing blocks via meditations with Kari Samuels and enjoying energy healing with Emmanuel Dagher. I'm also a regular follower of the Urban Monk, Dr's - Sara Gottfried (The Hormone Cure), Mark Hyman (Eat Fat, Get Thin), Alan Christianson (The Adrenal Reset), Josh Axe (his posters dominate my 'rocking the health boat' pinterest board), as well as the bullet proof guy – Dave Asprey.

Why am I telling you this? Because I feel strongly guided to share some of the wonderful things I've been learning. As a mother I think I would have enjoyed being tuned into more of this information when my kids were young – although I totally believe that their journey is unfolding exactly as it was meant to and they were definitely raised in a far more health conscious home than many… So I don't mean to suggest I'm filled with regret, but that doesn't mean I can't share some of my info and insights with others because that is, after all, what this podcast is all about.

So today I'd like to focus on health tips – specifically healthy habits – things you might not know about, but are ready to hear; things that you might not be ready to embrace, but are willing to at least listen to; and even things you might already know about, but like me was not totally clear on why they were important enough to listen to.

My goal is to help you become aware of any self-depleting patterns you might be creating in your own life (and your child's) and give you ideas of what you can do instead if you decide to pursue that idea further.  I'm also sharing names wherever I can in case you want to do an internet search and find out more about any of these topics, so if you're listening to the podcast only, and you miss the names, you might want to visit my blog and get a copy of this week's written notes.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits:

1) Avoid eating before bed. Lots of people talk about sleep and body processes that occur during this time. Ari Whitten helped me really understand the process.

Your body has a lot of important work to do during the night and eating food gets in the way of that happening. In fact overnight is when the cleaning process happens (something called autophagy) and it's where any broken or misshapen material gets scooped up so it will be replaced with better stuff. When you eat, your body can't go in autophagy because those resources are focused on digesting. That's okay during the day, when you need energy to operate.

It's not so okay, when you are sleeping. In fact, it means the next day your body has to use those broken or misshapen pieces that should have gone in the garbage. I'm all for re-using, but not when it becomes a health concern.

The answer: become aware of your fasting window (the time you go without food – typically overnight) and ensure it is at least 12 hours long (13 – 14 is even better). Stop eating 3 – 4 hours before bed and just enjoy tea, coffee (both without any milk or sugar), or water during that time.

If you're breastfeeding a new born, this might not be 'doable' yet. Your baby might insist on eating in the night and you might find you need nourishment then too. That's okay – baby time is always an exception. Do what works best for you and babe and then as soon as you are able to stop feeding the baby at night, see if you can stop your munching too.

One final thought worth exploring here… are you training your older kids to think a bedtime snack is the norm? Was this something you were raised with or have you picked it up watching other adults? I know my kids had snacks very sporadically – thankfully that had not been part of my bedtime ritual as a child, so it wasn't an ingrained belief that I had to challenge.

Medical disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, but a mother sharing what she has learned. You are the expert in your own home – I challenge you to stand in your power, don't accept anything that feels wrong to you, but instead keep an open mind and search until you find what works.

2) Support your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is what wakes you in the morning, helps you fall asleep at night and schedules most of your body's maintenance. Cleaning, rebuilding, hormone distribution and more are all determined by this rhythm. When you're circadian rhythm is disrupted, everything gets messed up and according to Ari (and many of the other doctors I talked about earlier) there is plenty of evidence that this is a really bad thing.

Here are some of the things you can do to ensure you are working with your rhythm as much as possible:

  • a) Pay attention to lights after dark. CR is thrown off kilter by artificial light. Even worse, blue light – that which is given off by computers, ipads, phones, T.V's, etc - is the most disruptive of all. Firelight, red lights, low ambers are much better for our rhythm and tell our bodies to start producing melatonin at the right time.

If you feel tired a lot or find it hard to fall asleep when you finally drop into bed exhausted, try to avoid (or minimize) the blue light in your evening life. I've actually ordered some blue blocker glasses from Amazon so I can watch hockey games now that the season has started. Iphones have an 'evening light' setting and apparently there are free downloads for computers if you have to be on them before you go to bed. So do what you can to eliminate or avoid blue light for at least the hour before bedtime.

Making your bedroom as dark as possible is also important. Black out screens can help with that if you live in the city or have a yard light shining in your window. If you need a nightlight for walking to baby's room during the night, or in your child's room, see if you can get away with a red bulb. If this isn't bright enough, you could try low wattage amber, but it could still be disrupting for your little one.

  • b) Get outside during the day. Nothing is as good for you as natural sunlight so do your best to get outside as soon as the sun starts to rise. Both Ari and The Adrenal Reset guy – Dr. Christianson suggest you do this within the first hour of getting up, but of course it has to be daylight for this to work. Full spectrum lights (used in that first hour after waking up) can help with this when the days are short.
  • c) Try a natural light 'alarm clock' if possible. I know so many parents who tell me that getting their child up for daycare (or school) is such a challenge especially in the dark winter months. As a result they are tired and grouchy…which doesn’t help if mom is tired and grouchy as well. So, you might want to try a natural light clock for you, your kids or both. These clocks start to brighten your room just like daylight would which alerts your body to send out a shot of cortisol – making you jump out of bed, awake and ready to start the day.

Of course if you've been up several times with your child in the night, nothing will fix the loss of sleep, however, know that, this phase is only temporary and eventually you will return to having more control over your sleep.

  • d) A few other quick ideas: Do your best to create a time for bed and time to get up routine and stick with it. Get up when you wake up (rather than dozing); pump yourself up and remind your body it should be energized at that time. Go to bed around the same time and do your best to eat your meals around the same time. Run a pink or white noise machine to decrease noise distractions and keep your room cool if possible.

All of these things help to keep your circadian rhythm in check and help improve sleep quality, both of which can go a long way to keeping you on the 'happy side' of life.

3) Plug the drain by unplugging.  Electro Magnetic Frequencies also known as EMFs drain you. By now most of us have heard about how they can affect our energy levels, our ability to think and so much more. People joke about not living too close to power lines because of how it might affect our future generations, but as with most humour there is an element of truth in it. I remember listening to an EMF specialist on a health show a couple years ago (sorry I can't remember her name or even which summit) and she was saying how one mother called her when her baby daughter wasn't hitting development milestones the way she should be (i.e. she wasn't rolling over, holding up her head, sitting up – despite being 6 months).

It took this woman less than 5 minutes in the baby's room with her EMF machine to discover the problem.  Turns out the mother had put a heater beside the crib because the baby's room was a bit cool. The EMF's from that heater were actually robbing the baby of negative electrons while she slept. They got rid of all electrical items around the crib and within a couple days baby rolled over, held up her head and within a week was sitting.

Get rid of everything you can that plugs in close to your bed (and your child's!). This is especially important for plug-ins by your head including alarm clocks. There are things you can buy that give off negative electrons so that your body will not get out of balance.

My favorite company is Vibes Up which is in USA, but you can also find a lot of interesting things – like Himalayan rock salt lamps, amethyst stones, Q-links, and others – at local health stores. Of course, the more thorough and cost effective answer is to unplug things.

4) Leave your phone in another room at night. In the last few years smartphones have become a lifeline for so many people. They have them with them all the time…fully charged and ready to go. This is a problem in several ways.

One is because of the EMF's I just mentioned. With cell phones the situation is a little different because even though the phone isn't always plugged in, it is still checking the tower for data regularly. This disrupts your own rhythm (including sleep patterns!) and will take its toll on your body over time.

Another problem is that having a cell phone that's always on means you are always on. People can call or text at any time of the day or night disrupting the time when you're supposed to be restoring. In the rare situation where you need to be contacted in the middle of the night people will find a way to get hold of you.

I know this is a tough one to even consider, but the longer we have these phones the more we are learning about the unhealthy effects. If you can, put your phone in a different room at night or put it in airplane mode. Even do not disturb with permission for certain contacts to be able to reach you is better than just having it on and plugged in right beside you.

In line with this idea of 'always being on' it is a really good idea to start finding times of the day when you can be unplugged. Ideally it would be great to get up in the morning and rather than checking in with your phone right away taking some time to check in with yourself. During this time you might set your intentions for the day – or simply think thoughts like, I wonder what wonderful things are going to happen in my life today?

Tuning into your body by stretching, deep breathing, meditating, standing in sunlight, reciting a short gratitude list… whatever feels wonderful and is available to you is still going to be much better for you than immediately checking-in with social media or your texting buddies.

5) Avoid making food ruts. It's so easy to find a food you enjoy and then fall into a pattern of eating it on a regular basis. It might even get to a point where you panic if you're running out of something that you like to have every day. This is especially true in how we feed our kids. If you discover he eats cucumber willingly, it's very tempting to put that on his plate every day (this is even more true when your child is a picky eater!).

I totally understand this way of thinking and have fallen victim to it myself. Unfortunately this is not a good habit to create. One of the reasons is because your body uses certain enzymes to digest certain foods. If you make a habit of eating peanut butter and toast every single day for breakfast you have a good chance of using up those enzymes and creating digestive issues you won't want to deal with later.

Another problem with this way of eating is that your body needs a variety of nutrients to function. If you only eat blueberries every day you will benefit from the many good things it offers, but you will suffer from the missing items it does not. Mixing it up with other berries, fruit and veggies will make a very positive difference in your life.

A third problem is when your diet isn't very pure and there is something in your bread or on your blueberries that is bad for you. Even though your body has the ability to clean out this undesirable when it appears, it cannot do this every day and over time they will accumulate and create a toxic load that results in a diagnosis nobody wants to hear. I remember Dr. Hulda Clarke saying, even though we can all handle a little bit of arsenic without ill effect, a little bit every day that starts to build up will eventually lead to that person being poisoned.

So try not to create ruts that go longer than an item would be in season. For example – all kinds of squash are available in the fall and you should feel free to enjoy it, but once it's season is over you'll want to switch back to occasional squash meals. A good way to look at this is its okay to run out of things every few weeks and have to go without. Try to find a variety of different foods (with kids it can help to get them involved in picking out different colours or testing different fruits).  Watch out for other repeats and do your best to break them up where you can.

Your life is demanding and you've been taught that to be more efficient and therefore productive, you need to juggle many things in your day. As a result you go on autopilot and create habits wherever you can. What I'm suggesting is that you do this from a conscious place and create healthy habits that you understand and feel are helping you be the vibrant, powerful person you are choosing to be.

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