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Published on July 31, 2019

25 Healthy Habits for a Fitter Body and Happier Mind

25 Healthy Habits for a Fitter Body and Happier Mind

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word habit as “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” We often think of ‘bad’ habits when we hear that word, however we can use the very nature of a habit to our advantage by integrating good ones!

If you want a healthier, more fit body and happier, healthier mind, this article is for you! Here are 25 habits divided into different categories to give you a healthier, happier life.

Fuel Your Body

1. Water First Thing

Hydration is so important, and while many of us think of a hot cup of coffee or tea first thing in the morning, we are better off to start our day with a big glass of water. This helps to hydrate, lubricate joints, kickstart gastrointestinal tract movement, increase mental alertness, among other things.

Room temperature or warm water is best first thing in the morning, prior to breakfast, coffee or tea.

Tip: Drink your glass of water as soon as you hop out of bed, then hop in the shower while the coffee is brewing!

2. More Veggies

Many physicians, dieticians and health specialists (including me) believe that a healthy diet should be based on a foundation of varied vegetables and fruits.

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables is essential to get most of the required vitamins, minerals and nutrients our bodies need daily. Not to mention most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat, thus aiding in maintaining a healthy weight while helping us to feel full.

Tip: When meal planning, start with a vegetable or fruit, and build your meal around it!

3. Don’t Succumb to Fads

There are so many fads in the diet and fitness industry that it is hard to determine what is true and what is not. One thing that has stood the test of time is that fruits and vegetables are a staple.

There are healthy fats that our bodies require, and others that are detrimental in large quantities. Diets that are extremely strict and leave no room for indulgence, often leads to psychological disappointments and guilt – something which should not be part of a diet.

Tip: Eat well and enjoy!

Move More

4. Moderate Exercise

Not only does moderate daily exercise keep us lean and healthy, but it flushes our body with blood and lymph and helps to remove toxins and bring nutrients throughout.

Cardiovascular exercise keeps our hearts and lungs healthy, and resistance or weight exercise keeps our muscles and bone strong.

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Tip: We don’t need to spend hours at a fancy gym to reap the aesthetic and health benefits, only a few home items and our own body weight.

5. Get Outside

Being outside in nature is good for body, mind and soul. Our grandparents were right, fresh air really is good for us! Natural daylight has various positive effects on the human body, such as elevating your mood, and speeding recovery.[1]

Tip: Make it a point to schedule in even a 10 minute outside activity during your day.

6. Walk

Walking is the most natural movements of the human body and can be done anywhere, for free, at your own pace. Not only is it good for your body, but it often gives you a chance to clear your head and get back to your work with a fresh outlook!

Tip: Try combining getting outside and walking daily, rain or shine, and you’ll be sure to notice the difference!

Brain Games

7. Sleep

We know how important sleep is, and as working parents, we often giggle at the prospect of trying to get more sleep (enter the ever-waking toddler who keeps us up all night then wakes us 2 hours prior to when we would normally need to wake).

Getting more sleep really can be elusive, however, it can be done. Here are a few tips to do so:

  • Make daily napping a priority, whether it’s in your car during your lunch hour, or at your home office during a break, or a quick shut eye right after picking the kids up.
  • You know that old saying: “sleep when the baby sleeps”? Leave the laundry, cleaning and other jobs and truly sleep when that baby sleeps. Even if you elicit quiet time with the other kids and just lie down and rest, it is still helpful.
  • Ask for help, whether you and your spouse take turns, or hire a sitter, take some time and rest.

8. Have Fun

Remember when you were a kid and you enjoyed playing or riding your bicycle? When we grow up, we often get so caught up in adulting that we forget to do fun things that bring us joy.

Having pure fun is an excellent stress reliever and let’s face it: fun is just, well, fun!

Tip: Try out some different hobbies and find what you like.

9. Get Rid of Guilt

Guilt can be an important feeling, but it can often be overblown and unnecessarily stressing. Worrying over unnecessary guilt serves no purpose except for causing the body to react mentally and physically, so it’s best to let go of stress that is not serving you for the better. Try these tips to let go of that guilt and move forward:

Tip: Acknowledge and honor your right to protect your self-interests. Recognize the legitimacy of standing up for your rights. Tell yourself that, even if they’re at odds with another’s, there’s nothing wrong or bad about diligently pursuing your own goals.[2]

10. Journal

Journaling can help you to be thankful for what is already in your life, as well as helping you goal set for your future. Seeing your thoughts, goals and actions written out can often help us work through and solve issues in our lives.

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Tip: Keep a journal at your bedside and make a point to journal first thing in the morning or just before you go to sleep.

11. Meditate

Meditation is close to number one

in terms of stress management, and with good reason – it can lower heart rate and blood pressure and calm the mind. Practicing meditation can be done anywhere and can be as simple as closing your eyes, deep breathing and simply observing your thoughts.

Tip: Don’t stress about clearing your mind when you meditate – simply let your thoughts pass and breathe deeply while sitting or lying in a relaxed position. Set a timer for 10 to 20 minutes, and if you fall asleep, that is okay too! Take a look at this meditation guide: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

12. Organize

Keeping your home, vehicle and office organized can really help decrease stress because you can find what you need when you need it, as well as it gives you a sense of control of your surroundings. As you sort through items, you can donate things that no longer serve you – this will help clear out clutter and less clutter equals less to deal with.

Tip: Take a week (or as long as you need) and focus on one room or area of your house per day. Get rid of items that you haven’t used / worn in longer than one year.

13. Be Mindful

We are often thinking in terms of what’s next, or reviewing something that happened yesterday, but we rarely just enjoy the moment. Being in the moment allows us to be fully present in our lives and experience the here and now fully without the added stress of what comes next.

Tip: Before an event such as an outing with friends, a movie, dinner, etc., remind yourself to enjoy being there and focus on the words coming from the big screen or the conversation with friends. Really listen to what is being said and try not to focus on what you are going to say or do next.

14. Smile

Smiling causes your body to release endorphins and serotonin – which are naturally produced pain relievers and feel good neurotransmitters! Even when the last thing you feel like doing is smiling, research has fond that a false smile can cause the very same reaction. So, as a good friend of mine always says: “fake it ‘til you make it!”

Tip: Spend some time each day “practicing” a smile in the mirror. It seems silly but remember you are doing your body good with this exercise. After a while it may seem so silly you start to smile and giggle at yourself which is a bonus! Not to mention it helps you perfect your selfie game!

15. Deep Breathe

If you are like most of us, your normal breaths are very shallow. A full, deep breath increases the oxygen supply to your brain, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and promoting a state of calmness and relaxation.

Tip: Spend 10 minutes first thing in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and another 10 minutes before sleep practicing deep breathing every day.

16. Positive Self-Talk

What we say to ourselves is so important – our daily self dialogue has a lot more to do with how we view ourselves than we realize, so it’s important to observe what we say and make positive changes as needed.

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Tip: Each morning as you get ready, point out the great things you like and admire about yourself. Try and pay attention to your self-talk – when you notice something negative, change it right away by replaying the thought with positive intent. Try these 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success.

17. Do More of What You Love

Do you love baking? Is gardening or pet care your Zen? Make time to do what you like every day – doing things you enjoy helps to relieve stress and gives us a sense of purpose and joy!

Tip: Schedule 30 minutes at least 3 times per week to do the things you enjoy – if you can do more – go for it!

Take Charge

18. Balance Work Life

We’ve all burnt the candle at both ends – or so to speak – when work is so busy that it spills into our personal life. This can make stress skyrocket if we aren’t getting enough down time.

Often, we just need to take a step back and look at what we can get off our work plate. Other times, we just need to learn to politely say no.

Tip: Learn your most productive times of the day and use them to your advantage – don’t answer emails or the phone for short periods during these times to focus on tasks and check them off your list!

19. Find Your Zen

For some, a hot bath by candlelight is what gives them peace; and for others, a movie and glass of wine does the trick. Whatever it is that brings you comfort and peace – make it a daily or weekly ritual and let your loved ones know that you are not to be interrupted during this time or self rejuvenation.

Tip: Trade off with your partner – if you have children, pets or loved ones to care for, take that hour to yourself while your partner looks after everyone, and make sure to give them that time to themselves too.

20. Make Your Home Your Sanctuary

Your home may be big or small, old or new, but make sure that you decorate it your way and fill it with décor that makes you feel at home.

Maybe this is as simple a fresh cut flowers on the kitchen table daily, or maybe it’s redecorating your entire kitchen – but don’t let anyone dismiss the importance of your home reflecting you!

Tip: Start with your bedroom – make sure you have the right curtains, sheets, throw pillows, whatever you fancy to make you feel cozy and safe in your own space.

21. Get a Pet (And Be Responsible for It)

Getting a pet can make you healthier in many ways – it will decrease feelings of loneliness, may decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, and help you be more active.[3]

22. Wash Your Hands

We all know how germs are passed, but did you know that human hands are proven to have more germs than a toilet seat?

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Keeping your hands clean before letting them near your face or mouth, helps to prevent the spread of influenza, the common cold, and many other contagious illnesses.

Tip: Wash your hands as soon as you come into your home after any outing.

23. Rest

People talk far too much about how busy they are – and not about how they unwind and relax (which would serve us far better.) Rest is when your body and mind take time to rejuvenate – and that is important to be able to function properly at work and play.

Tip: Make bedtime a priority – give yourself some wind down time 45 to 60 minutes prior to be with no screens – this will help your body produce melatonin and make you sleepy. Try to build a bedtime routine that fits you.

24. See Your Doctor Annually

It is an important not only to rule out disease, but to check in with your doctor so they can observe any health changes you may not be aware of.

Tip: Make an annual physical check up appointment even when you are feeling great – keeping on top of your health will keep you at the top of your game!

25. Put Yourself First

It may seem counter-intuitive but making sure your needs are met helps you to make sure you are in top shape to care for those around you. If you don’t take care of you, who will?

Tip:  While journaling, make a regularly updated list of your needs – check in weekly to make sure they are getting met!

Final Thoughts

There are many things you can do to help you stay healthy physically and mentally – choose a few goals (or all of them if needed!) from this handy list and keep them visible so you can work on them daily.

Want more great info on a healthy mind and body? Check out these articles:

Featured photo credit: Stage 7 Photography via unsplash.com

Reference

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Laura Barr

Laura is a registered clinical massage therapist & certified fitness consultant specializing in holistic nutrition, injury & weight management.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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