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With all the crash diets, fads, podcasts, Fitstagram models, juices and blog posts…achieving wellness can seem overwhelming. But what if true health and wellness could be boiled down to a few simple concepts, and achieved by setting and reaching some attainable goals? We’re here to tell you it’s absolutely possible. In our latest blog post, Allison Gray, F.N.P., sat down with us to share a checklist to achieving optimal wellness.

Sleep

Sleep is important for so many reasons; most of our repair and regeneration happens at night.  Our system maintenance and balance is driven by hormones that are released while we sleep.  Overtime, a lack of continuous sleep can lead to things such as weight gain, development of chronic conditions, fatigue, hormone imbalances, general inflammation and more. Telling someone to get more sleep isn’t enough – we need to figure out why your body is not naturally tired during typical sleep hours.

Things that can be contributing to this imbalance are hormonal imbalances, too much exposure to electronics (screen time) without blue light filters, not enough time in natural sunlight, lack of nutrients and food patterns.

Food

Within the past few generations, humans just started to eat foods that are either produced in factories using synthetic or extremely refined materials or sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers. The types of food we eat matter, not just for weight, but to also prevent chronic diseases and treating existing conditions.

With so many diets out there, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out the best one. As humans, we have so many different body types so there is NO one size fits all method when it comes to diet. Something that most experts can all agree on is adding more fruits and vegetables (organic is best, if possible) and decreasing refined flours and sugars is a good start to a healthier, more balanced diet. You can learn more about our healthy lifestyle and nutrition program here.

Movement

The thought of exercise has different connotations for different people. For some, the thought makes them overwhelmed or stressed and for others, it brings a sense of excitement or joy. In our culture we have focused on the goal-driven, cardio-specific perception of exercise for a long time.  Staying active is crucial to not only our physical well-being, but our mental well-being as well.

What do you enjoy doing? Do you look forward to an after-dinner walk? Have you always found that dance brings you joy and fulfillment? Does kickboxing and martial arts get you pumped up?  There is no wrong answer to the type of movement that is best for you.  The most important thing to do is find something you enjoy to get you moving!

Environment

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have increased human exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins. Chemical exposure can cause hormone disruption, chronic conditions and cancers. The question becomes, how do we minimize our exposure and impact while effectively decreasing the toxic burden we are carrying? Below are some easy ways to prevent exposure in our daily life:

  • Use all natural, green cleaning products.
  • Use less plastic. If using plastic for food prep, don’t heat in the microwave or freeze it. Use BPA free is best!
  • Use cosmetics and bath products that are free from harmful chemicals, dyes and additives such as sodium laurel sulfate and petroleum derived ingredients.
  • Eat organic as much as possible. Look for the “clean 15” and the “dirty dozen” food list to help guide the foods most important to buy organic if you are on a budget that doesn’t allow for all organic products.
  • Buy bedding, shower curtains and clothing that are sustainably sourced and that don’t have heavy chemicals in them. For example, look for terms such as PEVA or EVA for shower curtain liners.
  • Reduce exposure to mold and toxic fumes in the home. If needed, there are many professional resources that can help you assess your living space.
  • Detoxing – work with a healthcare professional to find the best approach for you based on health history and risk.

Nature

With the growth of technology, we have moved away from spending time daily in nature. The majority of our days are spent inside and in front of a computer, TV or cell phone screen. Higher levels of anxiety, weight gain, sleep disturbances and toxin exposures are all contributing to overall health imbalances in the current generations. We have moved away from our circadian rhythms which were based on the schedule of day and night.  Because of this, our neurotransmitters have begun to re-regulate and have started effecting sleep cycles as well as daytime energy.  Below are some tips to getting re-acquainted with nature:

  1. “Forest bathing” – This is when you surround yourself in nature (nothing man-made that is visible to the eye) and bring awareness to your surroundings. Forest bathing is very common in Japan.
  2. Take your shoes off, both inside and outside of the house! Healthy microbes and nutrients can be absorbed through the feet and give you a greater feeling of balance with the earth. Also, when you wear shoes in their house, you are tracking in dirt and particles that can contain unhealthy bacteria, chemicals and toxins.
  3. Get outside as much as possible during the late morning hours without sunglasses, glasses or contacts to re-establish healthy neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.

Working with a functional medicine provider can help identify some underlying imbalance, contact us today to schedule your free screening!