Everyone wants to look good and feel good. Looking good helps people feel good about themselves. Feeling good can make you look great, too. Feeling good can mean feeling rested and energized, lean and fit, strong and capable, or being without pain or discomfort. Feeling good can be a huge boost to your self-esteem and confidence, which radiates outwards.
These days, not everyone is feeling so great. So many things can drag us down. Being sedentary and stuck indoors for most of the day, feeling stressed and worried about our finances, and eating through our emotions or out of boredom can all lead to more problems, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and weight gain. It can be a vicious cycle.
Two months into this pandemic, you might feel as if you're getting heavier and aging by the day. But, we are so much more than our weight and our wrinkles. We are so much more than our appearances. We must commit to practicing self-love and self-compassion now more than ever.
To start feeling better, treat your body as well as you can. Prioritizing your health will boost other areas of your life, too. Self-care is the ultimate form of self-love. Loving your body will help you love your life more. Considering the scary times we're in, couldn't we all use a little more love right now? We need to learn how to give it to ourselves.
The first step to loving yourself more is to give yourself permission to feel your feelings. There are no right or wrong feelings. You might even feel differently from day to day or throughout the day. There may be days when you feel on top of the world or days when you think you’re on the scariest rollercoaster ride and you can’t get off. It’s OK to go through the motions, but be gentle with yourself. Have compassion for the extenuating circumstances you may be in.
The second step to loving yourself more is to forgive yourself for any poor health habits you picked up during this quarantine. If you’ve been eating under stress, forgive yourself. These are extremely difficult and uncertain times. There are worse things you could be than an emotional eater. Be aware of what triggers you to reach for junk foods and make every attempt to drink more water or move your body instead. In the meantime, give yourself permission to move past any poor choices you made and move forward.
The third step to loving yourself more is to practice believing in yourself more. You can do anything you put your mind to. We’ve all had a few weeks now where we may have lost our footing, forgotten our routines, and gone off the deep end with poor eating and sleeping habits. But, now is a good time for you to start taking your power back. Take back your life by taking more control of the choices and actions that affect your health.
You will handle today’s challenges and changes better and be more prepared for more to come if you felt good. So, consider what you can do to feel good about the skin you’re in. When you look good you feel good and when you feel good, you can do great things. When you are feeling good from the inside out, you’re more likely to achieve your goals and make better decisions that affect your future. In other words, feeling good can help ensure your survival and your success.
To start feeling better and more in control of your life, pick three health actions you feel you could do every day for the next month. Take it one day at a time, then one week at a time for the next four weeks. You don’t have to do the exact same things every day, but they should serve each of the following initiatives: movement, nutrition, and connection.
Movement. Commit to moving your body every single day. This doesn’t mean you have to do a long, excruciating workout every day. Pick movements that suit your fitness level, mood, ability, and interests. There must be something you can do to increase your body's circulation.
Circulation is crucial for your body to function. Your blood delivers vital nutrients from the foods you eat and oxygen from the air you breathe to all the muscles, glands, and organs in your body. Circulation energizes your body and allows your body to perform optimally.
Movement can include aerobic, strength, or flexibility training. You can move indoors or outdoors. You can move while sitting or standing. When I worked with the elderly, we did all kinds of workouts while seated, such as dance fitness, aeroboxing, strength training, and even H.I.I.T. workouts (high intensity interval training moves performed for 10-30 seconds at a time).
You can exercise with or without props, dumbbells, or other equipment. Consider taking an online class for cardio, strength training, or yoga. You can even find workout inspiration on YouTube, Google, or Instagram. Maybe one of your friends has a workout challenge or group you can join.
If you enjoy nature or live in a beautiful area, take advantage of the scenery and spring weather by walking, running, or biking outdoors. You can also exercise on your back deck or driveway. Do you have a basketball hoop for the kids? Make it a family affair with basketball games to get your heart pumping and to create positive memories at the same time.
Listen to your body and move according to how you feel. But, most importantly, pick movements you enjoy. The more you enjoy something, the more likely you will stay active. You might have to try a few things out before you find something you like, but it will be worth it.
Nutrition. This is probably one of the hardest areas of our health goals to achieve. So, take it easy on yourself by gradually making healthier choices. If you are not used to dieting or detoxing, it’s probably best you just focus on making the best choices you can one bite, one meal, and one day at a time. If you can, choose as many fresh foods in as many different colors as possible. In other words, eat the rainbow. Aim to get at least three servings of lean protein daily and reduce your sugar intake as much as possible. Eating too much sugar causes more cravings for sugar and other health problems, such as weight gain, diabetes, digestive issues, high blood pressure, inflammation, and fatigue.
And, most importantly, drink water. Our bodies are at least 75 percent water. Water aids the body in many functions, such as digestion, detoxification, curbing appetite, promoting weight loss, and keeping your skin looking young and supple. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated, which can lead to fatigue and even headaches. Instead of reaching for an afternoon cup of coffee, consider drinking more water. The brain is a fatty organ that requires proper hydration to function optimally. So, drink more water to help you think clearly and make sound decisions. The average goal is 64 ounces per day. But, I suggest gradually working your way up to half of your body weight in ounces. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water, which is a little over 9 cups daily. You should also add a cup of water for intense exercise or warm weather.
Connection. One of the best things you can do to boost your mood and optimize your emotional health is to maintain connection with others. Humans were designed to stay connected with other humans. So, reach out and touch someone as much as possible by contacting those who matter the most to you. Aim to connect with at least one person daily so that you don’t feel so alone or isolated. Whether by text, phone, or video conferencing, contact people from your present or past. Share fond memories, current goals, or dreams you’d still like to fulfill..
Share your lives and help comfort and console those who need it the most. Now is the best time to encourage and motivate each other to keep going. Isolation can lead to health decline. When I worked with the elderly in a senior living community, it was my first priority to help as many residents as possible feel loved, feel heard, and feel like they mattered. I encouraged them to join as many activities as possible, even if just to observe, so that they didn’t get lonely or feel as depressed. As a result, I had an extremely active community of residents who quickly bonded and formed new friendships with one another. They looked forward to each day and lived their lives with more purpose and passion even in their last chapters of life.
It is very important to feel like you belong and feel remembered. Don’t wait for someone to contact you; it’s OK to take the initiative to reach out and say hello. You just never know how happy you could make someone, which will make you feel good, too.
Don’t just stop with the people you know. Consider sending a card, note, or message to someone you don’t know as well. A random act of kindness can go a long way to lift someone’s spirits. Extending a kind gesture will benefit your mental and emotional health, too.
Also consider connecting with nature and spending more time with your pets. Both are wonderful ways to lift your spirits, recharge your body, and boost your endorphin levels (the feel-good hormones produced in the body). Whether you spend time outdoors or look at images of beautiful landscapes, connecting with nature can help relax your mind and body as well as boost your emotional health and well-being.
If you can commit to three action steps every day that incorporate movement, nutrition, and connection, you may be surprised by how quickly you can start feeling better. Anything you can do to benefit your mind, body, or spirit, will go a long way to helping you adapt to change and overcome life’s challenges.
If you take care of your body, my Pineapple, your body will take care of you.
Live, Love, and Lead with Aloha.