10 Ways to Improve Your Health Without Changing What You Eat
You are a woman on a mission to learn how to improve your health in 2019. It’s your year and its time to take care of you. But, you are also a woman who loves food. You can’t imagine giving up any of your favorite dishes or sweet treats. So what’s a girl to do?
I truly believe that the food we eat intimately contributes to our health. I love coaching women towards food choices that help her reach her goals. However, there are also many different things you can do and tools you can use to improve your health without removing any food groups, or counting macros. Here are 10 ways to improve your health without changing what you eat.
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1. Stop Hitting the Snooze Button
Truth be told; I love pushing buttons. My husband will be the first to agree with this statement. And, if I’m not pushing his buttons, I’m pushing any others that I can find. Anytime I’m in a new rental car you can find me playing with every button in sight. It’s like I’m a kid in a candy store. (I will then preset every radio channel to the local Klove station and pray over the people who drive it next.) But, the button I unfortunately press the most often is the snooze button.
It feels so good to hit that snooze button and get just a few more minutes of sleep. However, hitting snooze resets your entire sleep cycle but never allows your body enough time to go back into that deep REM sleep. You end up feeling more drowsy and experience less productivity in your day.
So, if you complain often of feeling tired, even though you’re getting enough solid sleep; try waking up without hitting snooze. Do it for a few days and see if you feel the difference. It may give you that extra boost of energy without any added caffeine or energy drinks.
Action Step: Choose a day to start, choose your wake up time, and commit to not hitting snooze for 5 days.
2. Drink More Water
Water makes up over 60% of our entire body. Water helps every part of us function. It’s essential for muscular activity, brain activity, tissue health, movement, and proper use of the food that we eat. It helps with sports performance, digestion, and can also prevent overeating. But most of us don’t get enough water during the day. Personally, I know that if I’m not tracking my water intake, I can quickly become dehydrated which leads to headaches, drowsiness, and constipation. Set a consistent goal of 8 cups during the day, or try for half of your body weight in ounces and see how you feel. I’m pretty sure after a few days of staying hydrated, you will notice a difference in your digestion, your skin, and even your energy levels.
Action Step: Choose a daily water goal and write it down. Track your water intake for 5 days.
3. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing isn’t just for Yogis. Breathing is one of the amazing things our bodies can do both consciously and subconsciously. Think about it – we don’t even need to think in order to breathe. Our body just does it for us. But, if we haven’t thought about it enough, we can condition our bodies to have inefficient breathing patterns.
When we haven’t trained our bodies to breath properly and use the entire capacity of our lungs, it can cause muscle imbalances, tightness, and even pain in our bodies. Inefficient breathing is bad for our posture, and its also bad for times when our life is in danger. During high stress situations, it can be beneficial to slow our breathing down. But, if our muscles are too tight and our breath is short and shallow, its hard to slow our heart rate down enough to control our nervous system.
Practicing deep breathing has so many health benefits including stress reduction and heart rate regulation. Give deep belly breathing a try with these tips from the University of Michigan.
Acton Step: Set a timer in your phone to remind yourself to take a 5-minute breathing break.
Speaking from experience, unforgiveness can cause so many adverse health symptoms. Harboring bitterness, anger, resentment and unforgiveness can keep our bodies in a fight or flight response. This causes you to feel like you are always on high alert or leaving you to feel like you always have to defend or protect yourself. For me, unforgiveness always made me feel like I needed to retreat to the fetal position. It caused me to shrug my shoulders, clench my jaw, sit with poor posture, and breathe in my chest instead of my diaphragm. I could literally feel the unforgiveness in every area of my body, including my heart.
Forgiving starts with trusting God and knowing that since He will forgive you, that He also calls us to forgive others. Through His grace and mercy, we can believe, and know that following His Word is worth it (even if its not easy).
Action Step: Mediate on Ephesians 4:31-32. Read it through it several times. Decide to either ask for forgiveness or forgive someone else. Commit this to prayer.
5. Use Essential Oils
I love essential oils. I was skeptical at first, and really struggled to choose a company that I could align with. But, once I found oils that fit into my life and companies (yes that’s plural) that I felt safe with, I learned just how essential these oils really could be (ha pun intended). Essential oils aren’t going to cure all of your ailments. But, they are a great tool to keep on hand to enhance your wellness.
For example, I use Breathe from doTerra for any congestion or signs of a chest cold. I use both doTerra and Simply Earth Frankincense on my feet, hands, and the back of my neck for over all immunity. I use Lavender from Simply Earth for the relaxing aroma during a stressful day. And, I use Console roll-on from doTerra as my daily perfume.
6. Stand More
It’s probably not news that sitting can wreak havoc on your health, and your posture. I’m just as guilty as anyone else of sitting way too much, and I know the effects it has on my body. My muscles ache, my neck hurts, and my low back gets extremely tight. But, what’s a girl to do when you’re in the zone and you need to get your work done? Unless you have the space and the funds for a standing desk, it’s important to remember to take standing, or even walking breaks on a regular basis. Your body will thank you.
Action Step: Put a reminder in your phone to stand up at least once every hour.
Prayer has so many positive effects. It connects you with the One who gave you life. It also connects you with other people when you pray for or with them. Prayer is known to help boost community in someone’s life, leading to deeper relationships and improved mental health. Prayer is the foundation to a relationship with God. Prayer helps you to share your heart with God and grow in intimacy with Him as well as providing an opportunity to listen and hear from God as well.
Action Step: Pause right now and take a moment to pray to God.
Stretching is one of my favorite things to do when I’ve been sitting for a really long time. You can stretch in between commercials while you’re watching tv. You can stretch first thing when you get out of bed in the morning. You can stretch before you head to bed for the evening, and anytime in between. Stretching helps to keep our tissues healthy and joints fully functional. Stretching allows us to make sure our muscles stay continually pliable and ready for action either with planned activity, or for preventing a fall.
There are many different ways to stretch. You can stretch yourself both actively and passively, with a partner or alone. You can stretch dynamically, meaning constantly moving while you are stretching. You can stretch with equipment such as a TRX or yoga straps. And, you can stretch statically while holding a position for up to several minutes based on the John Barnes method. Or you can check out my 15 minute stretch and flow video and start stretching today.
Action Step: Schedule in 5 minutes during the day to stretch
My heart may need Jesus desperately, but sometimes I think my face may need Him just a bit more….lol. I have an issue with a face that always looks upset. I don’t know what it is or why it is, but I have a resting face; where even when I’m excited and filled with joy, my face just looks upset. I promise, I’m working on it.
Because of this, I make it a point to think about smiling more often. And truth be told, when I smile, I feel better. I feel a whole lot better when I smile. Smiling creates immediate positive energy and gives us a chance to share a kind moment with others without even saying a word. So, turn your frown upside down and share a smile with someone today.
Action Step: Choose someone random to smile at today. You may just make their day. (Just try not to be creepy 😉 )
10. Get Rid of Negative Thinking
I could write an entire post focused on thinking. Our thoughts drive so much of what our life looks like, it’s almost hard to wrap my brain around how important they are. Thoughts come into our head so quickly, and they stay with us if we aren’t conscious about taking them captive. Thoughts that aren’t life giving or filled with Godly truth, have the ability to derail us from our path. They so easily steer us in the wrong direction and lead us into thinking that we aren’t good enough.
These thoughts come from many different places; social media, the tv shows we watch, what we read, the people we hang around, the news, and so many more. If we aren’t careful, days, weeks and years can go by until we finally realize that we have been making decisions based on thoughts that really aren’t true.
The best way to combat against negative thinking is by diving in God’s Word and making sure that we have scripture at the ready for when those thoughts come into our heads. We can defeat negative thinking with God’s Word. His Word is our sword and the only offensive weapon we have in our arsenal. So, let’s stop the negative thinking today and replace it with God’s truth. This doesn’t mean thinking “happy thoughts.” It means meditating on Truth.
Action Step: Choose one scripture passage to memorize that will help you when negative thoughts creep in.
I’m not going to leave you hanging by expecting you to change all 10 of these right away. This is why so many women don’t stick with their weight loss programs; there are too many changes to make all at the same time. So my encouragement for you is to pick just ONE action step to implement today. Pick the one that resonates the most with you and schedule time to get it done today. Then, repeat it again tomorrow. Continue repeating the action step until it becomes a habit, and then add a new one in.
I would love to know which action step you are going to start with. Let me know in the comments below so I can support you and pray for you as you implement non-food habits into your life to improve your health.
Kristen is a wife + adoptive mama who loves Jesus, coffee, kettlebells + dark chocolate. She teaches women how to grow a stronger faith, raise a stronger family, and build a stronger body. She gracefully merges her Biblical counseling training and 15 years of health and fitness experience to inspire and educate women on how to make simple choices that create life-changing transformation.