WARNING: This post talks about food and exercise, as well as possible mental health issues that may arise from either of these subjects. If you find any of these topics triggering, please do not continue reading.
Yup, I’m going to be that girl for a hot minute.
I’m sure by now you’ve grown sick and tired of all of the “new year, new me” posts, considering that by the time you’re reading this it’ll be just about the second week of January. But give me a chance, this might take a turn you weren’t expecting.
As some of you know, a few years back I decided to take on quite a bit of a risky challenge and go off of my autoimmune medication and treat myself through holistic practices (if you’d like to hear more about that journey, get in touch and let me know and I might make a post about it).
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or nutritionist, and am not providing any advice for you or your current situation, nor am I recommending that you take yourself off any medication without the guidance and approval of a health professional. I am simply sharing my own experience.
Three years after my diagnosis and I feel fantastic, I am not on any medication, and have learned the power of using food and exercise (and a couple of supplements) as medicine. Because of that, I should tell you that the following tips are about health and not aesthetics.
Without further ado, lets get into my healthy staples for this new year:
- Drink yo’ water fam. I’m sure everyone has heard this a billion times, but its still relevant. Water is E V E R Y T H I N G. Wake up, drank (water). Pour up, drank (water). Sit down, drank (water). Stand up, drank (water). Okay but for real, from the second you wake up, throw back a glass of water before even thinking about coffee (yeah, that shook me too). Your body is dehydrated when you wake up, and coffee just dehydrates you even more. For my autoimmune people, drinking water can help with dry eyes/mouth/skin (what’s good Psoriasis and Sjogren’s!), kidney function (Systemic Lupus how you doin’), bloating from poor digestion, and so much more.
- SLEEP. I don’t know why anyone prioritizes anything over sleep (unless you’re in college because I did some damage over my 4 years too.) Sleep is the time where your body heals, your cortisol drops, your mind processes your day and absorbs what you’ve learned. If you’re committed to better overall health in 2019, commit to your sleep schedule the way you committed to your favorite Netflix series last year. Get. Those. 7-9 hours. PLEASE.
- Maca Powder is a godsend. If you’ve ever struggled with hormonal imbalances, welcome to your new best friend. Maca is an adaptogenic root, meaning that it adapts to your body’s needs. For this particular root, it helps with balancing of hormones (cinnamon can help as well!). A teaspoon of this a day will change your life. Poor skin? Bye. Irregular period? Bye. Fatigue and stress? Peace out.
- Omega 3’s. GUUUUUUUURL/BOIIIIIIIII. If you suffer with any pain in your joints, you need this in your life. Omega 3’s are a kind of fatty acid that is found most easily in fish. Its a fantastic anti-inflammatory and can do wonders for your joint and heart health. A lot of people will opt to take it in a capsule form, but if you can find a way to get in the natural way (think: Tuna and avocado toast, salmon, cod, haddock, sardines), I would recommend that. Try swapping out some of your meaty meals with fish to balance out the Omega 6’s (fatty acid found in meats). Fish are friends and food.
- CBD Oil: Hear. Me. Out. I hope and pray that by now, you’ve all heard about this supplement and that you know that it has no psychedelic affect whatsoever. In case you haven’t, I’ll link more information on the differences between marijuana and CBD here. I have found this to be an incredible supplement for my joint pain, my anxiety, my skin, my digestion, my insomnia, basically everything. If you’d like me to make a more detailed post about my experience with CBD oil, let me know!
- Fruits and veg: Eat them. All of them. Eat the whole damn rainbow. Stick to whole, real, foods. That’s that on that.
- Move. Find a way to move every day. Go for a walk, go explore a city you’ve never seen and cycle/walk through it, got for a swim at the beach (or a heated pool if you’re freezing in the northern hemisphere like me), go to the gym, run, weight lift, do zumba, yoga, pole dancing, any dancing, boxing, whatever your little heart desires, can stick to, and can afford. Just move. It’ll get your endorphins up, improve your heart health, your sleep, and bonus! Your circulation (I’m looking at you Raynaud’s!).
- Listen to your body. I first heard this mantra through my favorite Youtuber, Sarah’s Day . Let me tell you, this changed my life. Everyone should definitely abide by this rule, but especially those with autoimmune diseases. Listen to what foods make you feel good, and which ones cause a flare up. Watch how you feel after a workout- you should feel energized, and if not, maybe you went a little too hard. If you’re too fatigued that day, take a rest. You have to remember, there will be days when you wake up feeling like you never went to sleep, and the reason is that your body was up all night fighting itself. Go easy on yourself.
- Journal. MAJOR. KEY. Shoutout to my sister for getting me on this life. Journaling will seriously help you work through those thoughts that are just bouncing around in your head all day. It’s a place where you can say and be whatever you want. Feel like doodling that day? Go ahead. Feeling poetic? Live that moment. Feel like saying something to someone that you know you can’t say to them? Write them a letter in you journal. Put it all there. Believe me, it’s amazing to look back and see the personal growth you’ve had over the years.
- Manage your stress. I think every college student and working professional just clicked away. I am aware that life is stressful. But attempt some strategies to minimize that stress. For example, CBD oil (yeah, I’m on that again), ashwaganda (another adaptogenic), having a distinction between “work” time and “home” time, turning off your phone after a certain time, a social media detox, meditation, yoga, go sit at the beach/in nature in general, create (music, art, writing, etc).
- READ. Reading is cool, okay? It’s making a comeback. And I don’t mean on your kindle. Read a book, like with pages and a spine and a cover. Find whatever it is that will hold your attention away from a screen for a substantial amount of time like romance, thrillers, books on health, nutrition, philosophy, religion, travel, whatever! But please. Sit down on your commute on public transport, at a cafe, at a beach, on your couch, in your bed, and just lose yourself for a bit. I can also make a post on my most recommended reads if that’s what you’re vibing (can you tell I want you to interact with me?).
- Treat yourself. In whatever way that means to you. Bubble baths, time alone, time with friends and family, travel, a glass of wine at the end of the night, going to your favorite bakery, or my personal favorite: chocolate. It is okay every once in a while, and you will thank yourself when you maintain your sanity.
- Find balance. Yes, you should eat kale and exercise, and you should also eat cake at birthday parties, and drink champagne on new years and tequila when you’re heart broken (or looking to make some mistakes), and have a box of chocolate just because and some Ben and Jerry’s when you watch Love Actually. But for my autoimmune people in particular, please remember: food is not everything, but it is your medicine. Over the holidays, I quickly relearned the repercussions of my actions. My lupus symptoms began to come back and my anxiety was at an all time high. I eased myself into eating my normal, whole foods, and enjoying a few treats here and there. I also realized that the gym eases my anxiety, so I went back to working out because I enjoy it and it makes me feel strong, not out of guilt for what I ate the day before.
Your loved ones love you, not your “Earth suit”. Because at the end of the day, that’s all this body is. An Earth suit. But the connections you make with people (that actually stick) have nothing to do with what you look like, and everything to do with the conversations you have, the memories you make, and the love you give.
Find out what it is that others love about you. It’s okay to ask. Ask your friends, ask your S.O., ask your family. Shit, I even asked ex-boyfriends. When I began subtly asking around, I got responses like my confidence, my passion for everything I do, how I inspire them, my love for them and everyone in my life, and so many more wonderful comments. Trending theme? Not a single one had a thing to do with my physical appearance.
Be gentle to others. Don’t make any comments on anyone’s body, because you don’t know if they’re battling with it. Instead, remind everyone around you about why it is they’re so valuable to you. Tell them the little things that you love about who they are.
At the end of the day, even if you’re happy and healthy, there will still be months where you buy smaller jeans, and months where you’ll buy larger ones. This is okay. Just like all things in life, its about commitment and getting back up when you stumble (or crash and burn like I have in the past). But above all else, I hope you learn to accept and love this amazing, incredible Earth suit that allows you to breathe, think, experience, create, travel, and connect, and everything else that lives inside of it.
If you or anyone you know are struggling, there is always help. Please feel free to check out the resources below:
Let’s kick off a healthy 2019, mentally and physically.
Stay kind x