If ever there was weather to display moving out of one season and into another it was weather like today. I started off my morning in rainboots, under an umbrella and by lunchtime, I had shed my scarf and hat and was lucky enough to bask in the sunshine. Here in Santa Cruz, for most months of the year, we are blessed with moderate weather. This glorious temperate climate allows for year-round farming, providing a veritable bounty of local, fresh, organic produce.
Walking through the farmers market this afternoon, rainbow bouquets of flowers sealed the deal. Winter is over. Yumminess was everywhere. Among the piles of tempting veggies, there were stacks of dark leafy greens, mounds of gorgeous purple cabbages, and bushels of carrots as thick as my six-year-old’s arms. Like I said, we are blessed, and I live in gratitude each day for the abundance of healthy options at my fingertips.
Does that mean that I filled my reusable bag with fresh produce for a salad? Did I take the opportunity to glut myself on all the nutritious options laid out before me? Sadly, no and no. It just wasn’t practical. My family and I would be going skiing in a few days and I had a million and a half things to do. All I really wanted was a bowl of minestrone that someone else made. Do I feel a little bad about it? Absolutely, but I’m going to be compassionate with myself, and make that salad when I have more time.
As a massage therapist for the past seventeen years, I have dedicated my work-life to promoting health and wellness, but healthy choices aren’t always practical. I know that one of the best things I can do for my body and my family’s health is to prepare whole foods, loaded with minerals and vitamins. But I have a six-year-old that thinks boogers taste better than strawberries, and a partner that would happily survive being stranded on a deserted island, so long as there was a steady supply of chips and salsa and beer. We’re human.
In my line of work I see a lot of bodies, of every age, shape, and genetic disposition. I take care to listen to my clients when they talk about their lifestyles, stress levels, and self-care habits. One thing has become abundantly clear. People who take care of themselves by eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and nurturing close relationships are happier and healthier than those that don’t. What has also become apparent is that most people are scrambling just to get by. It often seems there’s not enough time, or money, or energy to get through the week, the month, the years. So what can we do to get beyond surviving and lean in so we can thrive?
We can all improve our outlooks and our health if we remember to do something proactive every day. Whether you have a self-care routine dialed in or not, I highly encourage you to integrate these three things into each and every day.
1. Get outside and play. Move your body in a way that brings you joy.
I spend a fair amount of my week happily massaging my clients in a dimly lit room, on absolutely glorious days. I do my best to shift gears a little during the day, and it makes a huge difference. Whether it’s a quick stroll to and from lunch, or only a few minutes of stretching in the sunshine, making time each day to drop into your body will make you a healthier, happier you.
2. Laugh and love more than you complain and blame... Fake it till you make it if you have to.
We all know how great a genuine, full-body laugh can feel, but most of us don’t stop to think about how good laughing actually is for our health. Among the many benefits of a good ole fashion giggle, laughing:
- Supports healthy blood pressure levels
- Reduces stress hormone levels
- Works your abs
- Improves cardiac health
- Boosts T-cells
- Triggers the release of endorphins
- Produces a general sense of well-being
3. Fill your body with fuel that it needs to make healthy energy and that includes a few supplements.
Most of us know we should put down the sugar and processed foods, but not many of us know what to pick up in their place. There are a lucky few out there who have the means to hire a personal chef, whose skills can transform a box of unidentifiable vegetables into a mouth-watering seduction. But what about everyone else? Some of us get bold and stretch our chops in the kitchen, covering everything in olive oil and turmeric, but it helps to have support in the process.
One thing that has made an awesome shift in my health and wellness is a steady dose of supplements. No matter how good or bad I am at nurturing myself, I know that if I take my Women’s Multi Gold, I’ve got my bases covered.
I know that if I only have fish once a month, I’m probably not getting enough Omegas, so I take Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil (which boasts 2100 mg of EPA + DHA and other omega-3s in a single dose) to support my brain… believe me, it helps me maintain my sanity with a tenacious six-year-old son, who challenges me daily. When I feel the first signs of a cold or flu coming on, I saturate my system with Vitamin C Gold and tend to avoid the brunt of it. What works for me, may work for you too.
When I am good about supplementing my diet, not only do I have more energy, but I sleep better, I make healthier choices overall, and my weight fluctuates less. A warning to the wise....not all supplements are created equal. There is a ton of hype out there and too many empty promises of cure-all products. Because what I put in my body is important to me, I make sure that I use high-quality supplements with ingredients that come from whole foods — and that are what they say they are.
The long and the short of it comes down to this. We need our bodies. We need our bodies to get us through life. If we take the time and energy to support these fleshy vehicles with carefully chosen fuel, we are bound to make the journey in them a bit more enjoyable.
Getting up from my little soapbox now to move my body and enjoy the first days of Spring! Best wishes and wellness.