Health is an ever evolving area of science. I’m fascinated by it. Things I’ve believed in for years: unprocessed food, clean water, body movement, variety of vegetables and herbs, blood sugar control, the importance of sleep, green cleaning, etc have withstood the test of time.
Some other advice has evolved as we’ve learned more about the way the body works. For example, when I went through my certification for health coaching (over a decade ago), I was taught how to eat every two hours to keep by body burning fuel/carbs. The thought was that if our body ran out of carbohydrate fuel that it would then begin breaking down muscle for fuel.
We know now that if our bodies are metabolically fit and able to switch their fuel source from carbs to fat and back again, letting our bodies run out of carbohydrate fuel is actually a good thing because it forces it to tap into stored fat for energy. IE: Metabolic Flexibility
Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned over the past decade is just how unique things can be for each person. This is where the biggest change in my personal health has come from- reading, listening, and experimenting.
I think it’s important to experiment and try things because what works for you might be very different than what works for me. However, I can attest to when you hit that stride where you find some of the things that work really well for you, it’s exhilarating to understand just how good you can feel.
If you’re there right now, awesome! Please share with me your favorite things contributing to maximum physical and mental health results. I love hearing what is working for people! And in that same vein, here are the things working well for me right now. I’m constantly learning, trying, evolving what feels best for me, and I’m sure that will always change as the years tick by. But right now? I’m feeling strong, energetic, and balanced by abiding by these things for my health.
Time Restricted Eating
I like this term more than intermittent fasting, but it’s the same concept. I’ve played around with this, limiting the hours of the day that I eat, after reading about the benefits of the practice on both blood sugar and longevity. I found that 16 hours tends to be too long of a fasting stretch for me most days, but 14 hours is my sweet spot. This means I’m usually finished eating for the night by 7:00 PM and eat breakfast the next day around 9:00 AM. I follow my body’s natural cues on this, so some days it’s naturally longer if I’m just not hungry.
TRE is a piece of the puzzle that has helped me transform my blood sugar stability and improve my insulin resistance. These things were the root of most of my health and hormones frustrations. Read my latest hormone update here.
I have read that women need to be careful because too much TRE can mess with hormones, but my result has been a better regulation of hormones (because of the improved blood sugar management).
I adore Madeline’s Strength Training Program/App. I just log on and my workout is waiting for me, 5 new workouts each week: Monday legs, Tuesday upper body, Wednesday conditioning, Thursday chest and back, and Friday full body. Her workouts are not HIIT, though many get my heart rate up. However, David and I workout together and his knees don’t love HIIT, so the focus on strength works really well for both of us.
Being consistent with lifting weights, and slowly increasing the weight, has helped change my body composition. My weight hasn’t changed in years, but the way my clothes fit has, meaning I’ve lost body fat and gained muscle. Most importantly to me, I feel strong. Hand me that pickle jar!
For a long time, I was not on team supplement. I figured it I ate right, I wouldn’t need to supplement. While I still think a varied, nutritionally-dense diet reigns supreme, I’ve come to understand that my body needs a little boost in some areas.
I take Vitamin D every single day. A few times a week I take a probiotic, vitamin C, zinc, protein powder after a workout, magnesium, and LMNT (once I realized I was thirsty from dehydration but from lack of minerals). I’ll also mention CBD here, as it’s been beneficial in helping with stress management; I take it probably twice a week.
Whether in a hot bath or more often in my sauna blanket (AHS for $75 off), getting a good sweat makes an impact for my health. I don’t sweat much while exercising, especially in winter, so at least once or twice a week I like to do a sauna session to help my body detoxify the system, increase blood circulation, improve immune function (real or artificial fevers can serve a similar purpose), and promote relaxation. My sauna sessions feel deeply restorative and are a great time to zone out/meditate.
Time spent outside/morning light
I can thank Finley for this one! Even in the cold, I’ve had to get out early. I like to give her about 15 minutes in the morning as the sun is coming up to sniff around and get some morning light (I read The Forever Dog how important “sniffaris” are and am all about setting that circadian rhythm for us both!).
I never look forward to going out in the cold but once I’m there, it’s invigorating. It helps my mood and my energy, and has the same effect on the kids, too. Not that they are up with the morning light, but anytime we need an attitude adjustment during the day, we head outside. 15 minutes later, we’re all new people.
I was hesitant about chiropractic care for most of my life. All the cracking freaked me out. It wasn’t until I started having real neck issues (think, couldn’t turn my head and icing constantly) that I was willing to try anything. On a recommendation from people I trust, I started going to Adjusting the World about 2 years ago. I haven’t dealt with that kind of neck pain since. I also have better blood flow and nerve… flow? to my toes (before, they would sometimes go numb😬), and they help balance my hips, which are always off. I just go once a week right now, but I always look forward to it.
Eating More Protein and Fat
Using my Lumen has made what I already knew even more clear- my body is pretty sensitive to carbohydrates. However, this doesn’t mean I should never eat them, but I’ve learned to be smart about the ones I choose and when I eat them (complex is best and frontloading them in the day or going for a walk afterwards).
Mom and I both want to try a glucose monitoring device for a month soon… any recommendations on a good one?!
As a result, I eat more protein and fat (olive oil, seeds, nuts, avocado, etc). I started doing it for blood sugar purposes but soon noticed what a difference it made in my muscle definition, too. Apparently I wasn’t eating enough protein to support my strength training workouts before because now I can see a difference. I also found I am not as hungry and rarely hangry (another result of balanced blood sugars).
By learning more about how my body reacts to carbs, I’ve been able to increase my metabolic flexibility. By my body getting better at switching fuel sources, it means a Friday night of pizza and wine, doesn’t bother my physically as much. My body knows how to burn it, then switches back to fat burning.
I feel like carbs deserve it’s own post because reading this back, I feel like it sounds confusing. Learning how to eat carbs in a way that is best for my body has not meant eliminating them. I had pasta last night and rice the night before that. For me it has been more about choosing the correct portion sizes and varying the amount I get on different days.
This post is clearly focused on physical health, but I could write another post on my thoughts of staying mentally healthy. It’s been a doozy of a couple years (understatement of the century). I’ve learned a lot about setting boundaries on social media, less screens in general, a gratitude practice, surrounding yourself with the right people, time outside, and so on and so forth.
Whew, this was long! Please share with me… what is something you’ve discovered over the years that makes a big impact on your physical health?