10 Easy Health Decisions That You Probably Aren't Doing But You 100% Should Be

10 Easy Health Decisions That You Probably Aren't Doing But You 100% Should Be

Simple changes in your lifestyle can give you the biggest results!
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As of 2017, the health and wellness industry is estimated to be worth about 167 billion U.S. dollars, and a four million dollar increase can be expected by the end of the year. 21st century America loves to overcomplicate health and mooch off of insecurity created by years of toxic, unrealistic expectations seen in media. I truly believe that in our deepest of hearts, most people know what they need to do to be the healthiest version of themselves, but don't because the allure of the newest diet or detox overpowers the small voice of reason.

As a very active person myself, I have been around the block and back with many of these health fads, and am here to educate you on what small, everyday decisions you should make if you want to be healthy. Not skinny, not ripped, but truly healthy in body and soul.

1. Make your water bottle your new best friend

There is a huge debate going on in the health community right now about how much water one should drink in a day. Should you drink only when you're thirsty? Should you drink before you get thirsty? 10 cups? A gallon? The numbers and statistics are all over the board right now, but the truth is that the numbers will fluctuate based on the person's height/weight, dietary needs, and lifestyle!

For instance, the recommended amount of daily water intake for adult men is 13 cups, but for women, only 9 cups. Obviously, these numbers will be higher for people with active lifestyles or certain illnesses. But generally, most people can drink enough water to meet their personal needs by drinking when thirsty. Any way you measure it, proper hydration is vital to good health.

2. Balance your food, and enjoy it too

When you think of healthy eating, what comes to mind? Diet plans? Restricting and counting calories? All green everything? Well, put those ideas aside and educate yourself on what a balanced diet really means! Keeping tabs on your macros (carbs, proteins, and fats) and micros (vitamins and minerals) is really all that healthy eating boils down to. Most people know the 2,000 daily calorie intake recommendation and can stick to it, but where they fall short is what those calories consist of.

Some people get the most energy from a 40% protein, 30% carbs, 30% fats diet, while others prefer a more even spread. Either way, you must supplement your macros with vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies. Find healthy, balanced foods you like and stock up, but don't forget to include those "treat foods" you like from time to time! A healthy diet does not mean a completely restricted one!

3. Exercise the way you want to

Crossfit, PureBarre, extreme yoga and P90X are all really popular exercise regimens. While they look cool and can often build insane amounts of muscle and strength if done correctly, not everyone enjoys or has time for a vigorous workout that requires wholehearted devotion. But, I have great news, you can exercise however you'd like! Take a stroll in the park, dance around your room, rollerblade, go for a swim, play some soccer, clean your house!

Exercise comes in many forms and levels, and there is something out there for everyone! As long as you are getting in some form of activity every day, you'll be good to go and your heart, body, and mind will thank you for all the endorphins!

4. Check in with your emotional and spiritual self

Health is not just about your physical body! The parts of us that cannot be seen are the hardest to maintain. We can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives that we forget to address the part of us that manages emotions and spirit. No matter how busy you get or how stable you feel your emotions are, it is imperative that you take time out of your day to pray, meditate, and reflect on the most personal parts of you! For people struggling with mental illness, this is often the single most important health tip to follow.

5. Get enough sleep, but not too much

Hardly anyone gets enough sleep these days, but especially college students like myself. We stay up late doing homework and studying for tests and get up early for classes and other extracurriculars. Trying to find enough hours to sleep is almost impossible, and yet, it must be done. You might as well be drunk if you haven't had enough sleep. Your perception is impaired, your thought processes become foggy, and everything is just harder to do.

When you know you need the extra shut-eye, you may just have to put a project down for the night in order to function the next day. If you are on the opposite end of the spectrum and sleep like a bear in hibernation, it is important to keep track of how many hours you are sleeping and check in to see if this is a healthy amount for you. There are many illnesses that can cause drowsiness, so it is important to check in with your doctor about your sleep habits.

6. Get your gut some good bacteria

A probiotic is something that is often seen as a health fad product but is actually very important for your gut (especially if you are taking antibiotics). Probiotics help boost your immune system, keeping you protected from many different common illnesses! They are also known for aiding in weight loss. These helpful bacteria can come in pill form or in a powder mix, so they're super convenient and easy to take!

7. Unplug before bed

Power off your phone, close your laptop, and turn off the TV! The artificial light from these devices can mess with your circadian rhythms and disrupt your sleep patterns! Try an electronics-free activity before bed like reading, journaling, or just listening to music.

8. Have fun in the sun

Exposure to sunlight is so important for everyone, and yet so many of us spend our days in dark, cold buildings! You get Vitamin D from spending time in the sun, so go soak it up! Vitamin D is said to lower cancer risk as well as improve bone health and overall mood! If you can't find the time to catch a few rays, a Vitamin D supplement might be right for you.

9. Drink responsibly

If alcohol is a part of your lifestyle, it can absolutely be enjoyed in moderation. But, when drinking becomes daily and excessive, you increase your risk of liver and heart disease, brain/nervous system damage, stroke, and numerous cancers. Red wines are the best option for your body since they are relatively low-calorie and have been proven to promote heart health.

10. Use your spice rack

Not only will herbs and spices bring out the flavors in your food, but many of them also have great health benefits! Cinnamon lowers blood sugar, peppermint relieves pain in the digestive tract and nausea, and turmeric is an anti-inflammatory! A simple Google search will give you dozens of new natural remedies to try with things you have in your cabinets!

Health and wellness does not have to be scary, complicated or extreme! Simple changes in your lifestyle can give you the biggest results! It is so important to remember that health is not defined by rippling muscles, how much you can bench or how far you run. Health is individual to each person and is a comprehensive measure of how smoothly and efficiently the body, head, and heart function together. Keep these things in mind, and you'll be well on your way to the healthiest, happiest, most productive you that you can be!

Cover Image Credit: Ella Pitman

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs. In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm..

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.

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I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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