We’re half-way through our 12 Steps to a Healthier You Journey. The first few steps may have seemed less than impressive, bordering on unnecessary. But the basic habits of choosing water over sugary and caffeinated drinks and improving flexibility through daily stretching, as well as improving posture, are critical to improving your health.
If you were a soda addict, for instance, that one or two (or more) daily drinks would add an additional 150 calories and 39 grams of carbs per drink to your diet. We haven’t gotten to the diet step, yet, so you don’t know that I don’t advocate a restrictive diet. No calorie counting or crazy meal plans. But I do advocate a healthy diet. And there’s no place in a healthy diet for 150 calories/39 grams of waste, which is all a soda provides. On the other hand, water has 0 calories/0 grams of carbs, and it provides the body with necessary hydration for muscles and joints, as well as helps flush toxins from the body. Drinking water is the best first step for getting your health on track.
Next, improving flexibility eases your body into a state of preparedness for better posture (step 3), which improves your ability to sleep (step 4) and handle stress (step 5). All of which, happily culminate in becoming more active (step 6). See how that works? One step at a time, and you’re off the couch, out the door, and enjoying life with the people you love.
But there may be a few roadblocks to this step-by-step journey.
- What if you have joint or muscle pain that are only partially helped by stretching?
- What if you have a hormone imbalance that affects your ability to sleep and handle stress?
- What if you have an injury that impedes your activity level?
Those are all legitimate roadblocks that inhibit the journey, but they don’t have to bring it to a screeching halt. There are healthy alternatives.
First, stay on track with the steps you can take, like drinking water and staying as active as possible. Avoid overcommitting to everything that comes along to reduce stress. Find a bedtime routine that helps you relax and sleep well.
Next, research healthy alternatives to address your biggest problem. If it’s joint pain, there are many ways to reduce inflammation without resorting to prescription medications. Reducing or eliminating sugar consumption, for instance, is a sure fire way to reduce inflammation. You might be surprised how many things a low-sugar or sugar-free diet will fix. You may also have food sensitivities that you aren’t aware of. These can also cause inflammation, digestive upset, and general feelings of blah.
Third, there are many herbs, supplements, minerals, and healthy food alternatives to consider. Most are effective and safe, even when combined with prescriptions, but always check with your doctor to rule out any interactions.
Using more natural means to address chronic symptoms is not an overnight fix. There aren’t any silver bullets to fix it all in one dose. Like everything else about our health, our habits play a big role in finding what works. In step seven, you will learn to become a detective for your health. You cannot solely rely on medicine or the latest health trend to treat your personal health problems. Some things, like reducing sugar, are universally good for everyone, but others, like special diets, are effective for a specific type of person or health issue. In the end, you will know your body better than ever before, understand its needs, and be able to better investigate healthy alternatives.
Are you ready to kick it into high gear? We might have to switch into four-wheel drive to get around the roadblocks of chronic health issues. But there is hope, so let’s keep trucking.
Do you have a chronic health problem that is blocking your path to better health? Share it in the comments, and we can encourage you.