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DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY!
This is the first in a series of posts on how to get started in moving towards better health and well-being, but first I think the right attitude is important, or you may get frustrated and quit. Or, you'll decide changing those habits isn't really isn't very fun, or worth it, which also results in abandoning the whole idea.
Do you feel like you're being told what not to do more than what to do?
Do you know people who are so busy protecting themselves from anything deemed unhealthy or toxic, that they're completely stressed out?
I do to. And in the times we're living in, it's really hard to get it exactly right. Honestly, I don't think it's possible, or even sustainable.
As much as I think that what we put in our body, and how much we move our bodies is really important, I also think that if we're not happy, if we're stressed, it won't really matter what we eat or how much we exercise in the long run.
Don't get me wrong, I think we should try to do the best we can, but the truth is sometimes we can go overboard.
How about a balance?
Just a few weeks ago, a friend I was meeting for a swim, told me that another mutual friend had given her a hard time for swimming in chlorine. My swimming buddy survived breast cancer five years ago and while she tries to limit her exposure to all things toxic, she does like to swim.
Yes, chlorine is not that great for you and I'd rather swim in a salt water pool if possible, but for me the benefits outweigh the risk. It's a judgement call and we all make them every day.
I'll continue to use swimming as an example of something that has pros and cons for our health.
First of all, while I agree that chlorine isn't the greatest for our health, there are things you can do to mitigate the exposure. One is rinsing with water before you get in, the other is making sure you take a proper shower, with soap and shampoo, when you get out.
Second, this is where the happiness factor comes in, while not everyone loves to swim, the people that do, find it meditative, calming, and refreshing, not to mention it's a good whole body workout.
Third, there are so many other health benefits from swimming. I won't go into all of them here, but a few of them are that it's a great cardiovascular workout, it's also great for working muscles, and it boosts blood flow to the brain.
I'm not necessarily trying to talk you into swimming, what I am saying is that there has to be a balance. If we're spending so much time trying to avoid things that aren't great for our health that we don't have time to do things that are good, or it's stressing us out, it really isn't worth it, is it?
I'm also not trying to tell you to go eat fast food everyday or head to the bar every day after work.
Thinking more in terms of 90% healthy, 10% not perfect works a little better.
Sometimes you just need to be "bad," instead of trying to be perfect all the time.
Sometimes you just have to let go!
When we were traveling, I really had to let a lot go. I did my best, but it often wasn't possible to eat organic and I had to let go of some of my other food preferences.
At the same time, it was really fun when we found a health food store or found delicious, healthy food, I would get excited and spend more time talking to the people who worked there than they were probably used to!
We don't always have access to organic foods or the healthiest foods when we're out and about in the world, just do the best you can. There's no reason to become miserable about it.
It can also be fun to search out health food stores around the world, you never know what will happen.
About a week or so into our trip last year, we found a health food co-op in the Atherton Tablelands in Australia. I don't know how we got into a discussion with a couple of people who were also shopping, but we were invited to a Hangi, out in the Australian bush. A Hangi, is actually a New Zealand, Maori, method of cooking with hot stones buried in a pit oven.
This one was a community gathering, with lots of food, music, and fun. It felt a little like home!
Again, when we didn't find places to buy organic foods and whatnot, we just had to make do and not worry about it too much. Life really is too short to worry!
So what can you do to be happier overall?
A great first step to improving your health and well-being is to look at your over-all happiness. Or contentment might be even better.
I'm reading a book called The Blue Zones, by Dan Buettner. The message of the book is 9 lessons for living longer from people in five regions of the world that live the longest.
I'm just starting the book and it's definitely worth a read, but the main point I'm getting already is that these people lead balanced lives at a slower pace than we are used to in average western societies.
These people aren't worrying about every little thing, they belong to a community, and they take time to smell the roses. They're grateful for the small things.
Stress leads to chronic inflammation, which is the cause of most diseases, especially age related diseases. So reducing stress is probably the number one thing to do to be more healthy.
Once again, if trying to be more healthy is causing you stress than it's not going to work!
It's really all about creating balance in your life, having fun, reducing stress, and creating a community of people that lift you up.
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Hi, I’m Crystal!