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MEGAN (not so) MONDAY – Thoughts on Labor Day and a Healthy Body

on September 2, 2014

HealthyMindBodyLabor Day – How to Honor the Hardest Worker in the World: Your Body

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

Hopefully as you read this, you are enjoying a long weekend, or at least you have had a rest over the past few days in honor of the holiday that acknowledges the hard work accomplished through the year.  Today also marks September 1; a new day for a new month and season. Fall is on its way, school is about to start (if not already for some), and having been a teacher for 10 years, I feel like this time of year marks a new year and fresh start more so than January 1st. I don’t know what it is about the start of the school year that seems so much more invigorating; perhaps it’s because a change of a new season occurs in conjunction at a time when productivity cranks up again for many. I also feel like that this is the time of year when so many great goals were established for myself, my students, and my colleagues – we all wanted to accomplish something great over the next school year before summer would grace us. Perhaps because the start of the new year (well, for us on a traditional school schedule, anyway) coincided right after a national holiday that was created to give everyone a rest. Unfortunately, as modern times come with new demands and expectations for many in the working world, Labor Day is just another “Monday” for some. No day off, no BBQ, no rest.

Then it got me thinking: while many people are taking a long respite this weekend from their jobs, most people don’t stop and think about how their bodies never get a break. The human body is an incredible machine that just keeps going 24/7, performing thousands of tasks without us even consciously aware. From microscopic cell division and repair to DNA synthesis to breathing and gross motor movement, an intricate dance of systems tirelessly performs with no day off. If that were to happen, we can become extremely sick, if not die. I find it absolutely incredible and admiring how much our bodies do for us. When we need to perform a task, our brains think and rationalize and our limbs take care of the movement to get it done. When we work too hard, our hormones and adrenals kick in to carry us through difficult times without immediately breaking down. Our cells are continuously working to replace the ones that die off, repair the ones that are damaged, and regenerate when and where they are needed.

What makes me sad is how cruel we have become to our bodies over time. It’s like we’re the horrible boss that works employees into the ground and expect even more productivity. We may not even know how cruel we have become, and in many cases, we may not even have a choice. We sleep less and less as a culture; we sit more and more, not moving our bodies like we should to keep things healthy and fluid; we are filling our air, water, and environment with toxins and pollution that gets stored in our cells to either rapidly or slowly deteriorate the beautiful intricacies of biological perfection. The food we “fuel” ourselves with is starting to become nothing short of a science experiment, while trying to feed the healthiest, untainted options possible requires a special label of being “organic” and agricultural practices. Stress tends to rule millions of people, silently stalking like a serial-killer, ready to pounce at any given moment. It’s a scary mix of combatants that our bodies are up against each day, and we have been paying the price through failing health, rampant disease, and just feel sick and tired. Is this how it has to be? Must the assault on our bodies continue?

In line with my earlier thought on this time of year being a “fresh” start, why not choose today to be your Labor Day for your body? Make a fresh change to give your body the break it needs and deserves. Here are my top suggestions on how you can start making some of the most impactful healthy changes to benefit (and thank) your dedicated and forever faithful body:

  1. Cut out processed foods. This includes foods with an ingredient list that comprise of things that do not come straight from nature. Chemicals, additives, artificial food colorings and flavors, etc…they all tax your body and add an onslaught of substances that can harm, alter, and/or get stored in our cells, thus affecting our health.
  2. Eat as many fresh vegetables as possible, preferably dark, leafy green, and organic, if possible. The chemical compounds in vegetables such as phytonutrients and antioxidants, in addition to boosting our whole food vitamin and mineral intake, provides our body with the necessary components needed to carry out vital metabolic processes and help fight disease.
  3. Drink at least 80 ounces of clean, filtered water a day.
  4. Get rest – preferably 8 hours a night or more (many of you are laughing at this). Most chronic diseases are related to lack of sleep. The reason is because our bodies repair and grow during our sleep; our bodies naturally detox and restore hormones, etc. Without adequate rest, we are not able to process out the harmful things that can lead to health issues down the road. In addition, sleep restores brain function and our body’s ability to function, boost immunity, balance neurotransmitters, and help prevent disease.
  5. Limit sugar as much as possible. Now if you eat fruit, that’s fine, but you still need to keep it in moderation. The sugar I am talking about is namely the processed sugars we find in our foods and drinks. Honestly, the best way to do this is to read the food label and look at the sugar content. I would aim to limit added sugars (not from fruits) to no more than 20 grams a day while “detoxing” your body from sugar. This also means limiting starchy carbohydrates like pastas and breads, for they break down into sugars as well.
  6. I know it’s hard for many people to find the time, but even to move for 15 minutes a day doing jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, or a walk can make a huge difference. Exercise helps out metabolisms and to elevate oxygen stores throughout our bodies, which is integral to cellular health. (Not to mention a healthy weight is associated with lower risks for disease)
  7. De-stress. Seriously. Stress is one of the number one causes of inflammation and hormone disruption in the body, in addition to sleep disturbances, etc. You can see the domino-effect here, can’t you? Some easy ways to help beat stress are to take small breaks throughout the day to think about things you are grateful for, to meditate, breathe deeply, take a walk, try some yoga, or just get out any anger or aggression that is pent up inside.
  8. Get your Omegas! Omega oils are essential fatty acids, which means you need to acquire them from your diet. Foods rich in Omegas are chia seeds, dark leafy greens, flax seeds, fish oil, and nuts. Omegas are important for brain health, immunity, healthy skin, and reducing inflammation (inflammation leads to chronic disease).
  9. Get optimal vitamin D3 levels. D3 is a super vitamin, responsible for many more bodily functions and preventative health than initially thought. Ideally, you want to know your D3 levels before supplementing, so ask your doctor for your level to be tested. Ideally, your levels should be above 40 and below 100. D3 is responsible for immunity, hormone regulation, healthy metabolism, healthy bones, skin, hair, nails, and teeth, and even aiding in cancer prevention.
  10. Heal your gut. Did you know that the core of your immunity and neurotransmitters occur in your gut? Maintaining a healthy intestinal tract and gut flora is critical for optimal health. Ask your doctor to screen you for conditions like candida yeast overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, and food sensitivities. Eating fermented foods like unprocessed sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and taking a quality probiotic supplement all help to restore a healthy gut. Eating healthy is the number 1 place to start healing your gut, so take a look at what you are taking in on a daily basis.

While this is an abbreviated list and set of explanations on how you can reset your health for fall, you should take into consideration the things you are already doing and the areas in which you feel you need more support. Your body will thank you! You can also check out my last article about detoxing your body for more tips on keeping your body in top operating shape.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:megan@empowerhealthcoach.com. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her onFacebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.

 

 

 

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