Spring is here and with it comes more sun (yay), longer days (yay), lighter clothing (yay), and an overload of marketing encouraging you to detox because "bikini season" is coming (ugh).
While I love this season and the renewed energy and motivation it brings, there can also be a lot of pressure and negative energy surrounding it. As a certified nutrition coach and member of a holistic healing team, I want to remove some of that stigma and reassure you there are easy and efficient ways to feel and look better—that don't involve being super strict or drinking green juice for five days straight.
Feeling good is about more than just food and exercise.
Now before I continue I do want to emphasize that I wholeheartedly believe that eating real, nutrient-dense foods and moving your body consistently are key to helping you achieve optimal levels of health and wellness. However, for most of us this is easier said than done, and it can be overwhelming when we don't know where to start.
But don't let perfectionism become your enemy. Instead, try something new this spring and start small with these five recommended habits that are enjoyable and simple to integrate into your current lifestyle. Taking care of yourself and cleansing in these efficient, natural ways will have you feeling better quickly—empowering you with the motivation you need to take additional steps to achieve your wellness goals.
1. Drink more water.
There's a reason this advice is on repeat like the latest Beyoncé hit. It's so important—and truly one of the best and easiest habits for shedding excess weight and toxins. Hydration is key to keeping things moving and functioning properly and helps your body carry out waste and other toxins. There's been a ton of research that has shown that people commonly mistake dehydration for hunger. Studies also show that people who drink more water tend to consume fewer calories, which makes it easier to lose weight. That doesn't necessarily mean drinking water has a specific physiological effect that induces weight loss—although some experts do believe it increases your metabolism—but it will definitely help you phase out those sugary drinks.
Your action step: Start each day with a cup of warm water with lemon (which is extremely alkalizing and detoxifies the body) and set a timer to remind yourself to drink a cup of water every hour or so. I carry a 33-ounce water bottle around with me wherever I go and refill it three times throughout the day to keep track of how much I'm drinking.
2. Start dry brushing.
Due to the effects of the standard American lifestyle (think: prolonged sitting and diets high in sugar and trans fats) many of us suffer from poor circulation. This is far from ideal as your organs (including the heart and the brain) won't receive all of the nutrients they need to function properly. Not to mention when circulation slows you use less glucose (blood sugar that the body uses for energy), burn less fat, and accumulate cellulite. Not fun.
This is where dry brushing comes in, a technique that improves circulation and promotes lymphatic draining. By taking a natural bristled brush and rubbing it in small movements on your skin you stimulate your body's largest organ and enhance blood circulation. These movements also promote lymph draining (by loosening up toxins from your skin to be excreted through the lymph system), help you shed dead skin, get rid of cellulite, and will even give you an energy boost.
Your Action Step: You can purchase a dry brush at a very affordable price online. Use it before your morning shower, starting at your feet and brushing in small circular movements with light pressure, working your way up the body and toward the heart.
3. Infrared sauna therapy
Infrared sauna therapy is huge in the wellness world—and for good reason! While traditional saunas use heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body, infrared therapy uses light rays (like the sun, minus the UV exposure) that heat your body's core temperature directly, enabling it to deeply penetrate tissue and remove heavy metal toxins and fat stored within your cells.
This is a key component of fat loss and weight, as stagnant pockets of fat in our bodies are storehouses for chemical toxins—and the more toxins that accumulate in our bodies, the more we create additional fat storage to protect our vital organs from those toxins. As we shed these chemical toxins, our fat cells shrink in conjunction. The heavy sweating (and believe me, you WILL sweat) also provides a safe and effective cleansing method as we use our skin to expel toxins instead of putting additional pressure on our already overworked liver and kidneys. This promotes circulation and with it gorgeous, glowing skin.
Your action step: Get googling and look for a spa, yoga studio, or wellness center near you that has an infrared sauna. Many of them even have membership options!
4. Sleep, sleep, sleep.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, a good night's sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. Lack of sleep can affect our weight, insulin sensitivity, cognition, hormones, and result in higher risk of fat gain and general obesity—not something any of us want.
Your action step: Getting more sleep is easier said than done, so try these rituals to get your best night's sleep ever:
Create a bedtime ritual.
Figure out a bedtime you can stick to almost every day and set an alarm one hour before to give yourself plenty of time to ease into sleep. Try reading, taking an Epsom salt bath, drinking tea (caffeine-free), snuggling with a loved one, or writing a gratitude list. It's all about what works best for you!
Put down your phone.
Keep electronics out of the bedroom if possible. Try an old-fashioned alarm clock if you can—but if you simply can't give up your phone alarm charge it across the room from you. This way you're less likely to wake up and check email in the middle of the night and more likely to get out of bed when it goes off in the morning.
Have a sleep kit handy.
Create your own sleep kit. Mine includes earplugs (to block out sound), an eye mask (to block out light), lavender essential oil (to induce a calm feeling), and magnesium supplements (to aid in muscle relaxation). Feel free to get creative (scented candles, silky pjs) as long as it's something useful and enjoyable.
5. Work on yourself from the inside out.
Our gut is commonly referred to as the second brain. Emotions affect our digestion and thoughts are a form of nutrition for your bod. Is the thought, "I'm so fat," what you want to be feeding your body? Or is "I am beautiful, I am strong, I am healthy" more like it?
There's also a small part of our brain called the reticular activation system (RAS) that turns on and off our perception of ideas and thoughts and determines the lens through which we look at ourselves and the world. When you tell yourself and believe in positive self-talk and affirmations you're building new pathways in your brain. Aligning our thoughts, words, actions—such as what we eat—and core beliefs is the key to success in looking and feeling the way you want.
Your action step: It's a lovely idea but much harder to put into action. This is where getting additional support from a health coach can be instrumental. A health coach can uncover limiting beliefs that keep you living small and hold you back from feeling and looking your best. By working together with a team, you help build new pathways in your brain, heart, and body that will cement healthy habits and empower you to live your healthiest, happiest life.