It is never too late to start prioritizing self-care.
I haven’t always taken care of myself as I should. In younger years, I did things that weren’t good for my health. Much of what I thought about diet and exercise was related solely to how I looked. I forgive myself. I was ignorant of the powerful manipulation at work in the culture. It’s no surprise that youth are particularly susceptive to falling prey to these forces. If I could go back, with the understanding I now have, I’d surely do things differently. But at the time, I lacked experience, context, and leadership concerning the pitfalls of culture. Dear young people, if I could tell you one thing and have it hit home, it is this:
Be true to yourself. Do not fall prey to what culture tells you. It’s not your friend. It aims to exploit you and will spare no part of you. It’s likely that most of your peers will be victims of this. Their actions will reflect it. Have strength. Don’t be influenced by the misguided opinions of cultural slaves. Liberate and Self-educate. Read philosophy. Learn to take the best care of yourself that you can. Be active in a healthy way, feed your body with quality food, cultivate quality in yourself, and your actions. The sooner you begin this….the better off you will be.
Oh, how I wish someone had impressed this upon me when I was younger!
These days I prioritize my well-being over all else. I can think of nothing more important. It’s the base upon which all my experiences rest. Everything I do, I do in my body. Everything I think and feel arises from the brain that is part of my body. It is all connected. Gut health directly influences brain function. Every chemical reacts with your body. You are an absorbant creature….exposure has repercussions. It all matters.
Everything I do for myself is affected by my health. Whatever I can do for others is affected by my health. Optimized health boosts my ability to perform at life. I’m fortunate to have a whole and functioning body. I don’t want to squander such a great blessing.
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.Mahatma Gandhi
I exercise and I eat healthy because I desire to optimize life. I need to feel good and not be sick. I cherish being able to do strenuous activities. I’m not after a perfect body (the airbrushed, totally fake version of beauty foisted on us by corporations). I desire a healthy body. A welcome result of existing this way is a healthy appearance, which is naturally attractive.
If you become fixated on looks it can lead to things that are the antithesis of healthy. Body dysmorphia. Dieting. Excessive exercise. Using “weight-loss” products. Getting radical surgeries. I’ve been guilty of a few of these in the past. They did not bring lasting well-being. I’ve adopted a different outlook.
The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other kind of happiness.Arthur Schopenhauer
(These are things I do regularly. Some of it I mix up to keep it interesting):
- Live an active life. Even “chores” are an opportunity to move my body.
- Get outdoors (every day)
- Be immersed in nature. Expose yourself to PLANTS!
- Choose the stairs.
- Park far away from stores.
- Walk or bike places instead of driving
- Long walks and hikes
- Weight/strength/resistance training.
- Stretching every day.
I work using a computer. Maintaining a good balance between the amount of time I spend sitting versus being up and moving takes effort. I get up periodically to do active things. Housework. Stretching. Go outside. Do some push-ups or burpees. Anything really that isn’t sitting.
Not at home? No gym? No equipment?
There are countless exercises a person can do anywhere, anytime, with no or minimal equipment. Stretching. Yoga. Calisthenics. Using jugs of water as weights. Find some stairs and walk or run them. A park bench (or any number of similar sturdy things) can be used for step-ups and tricep dips. Plyometrics.
- My diet primarily consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat.
- I principally drink water. Mornings I have coffee. Occasional Juice. Rarely Alcohol. Avoid Sodas (Maybe once or twice per year).
- I avoid highly processed foods. I don’t eat frozen dinners, burritos, appetizers, I pretty bypass most of the frozen food section in stores. I don’t eat snack foods such as chips, crackers, cookies, candy, etc.
- I do not eat “diet”, “low fat”, or “reduced calorie” anything.
- I avoid food hacks…instant mixes, etc. I prefer to make things from “scratch” using quality ingredients.
- The oils I use are coconut, olive oil, and butter.
- I limit refined sugar and things with grains ( I love bread but I only indulge in fresh-baked/homemade and not often)
- I rarely eat out.
- I read ingredient lists and use the internet to learn about them.
- I do indulge in decadent treats sporadically. I think it’s important to really relish these occasions and treat them as special. I prefer high quality when I do eat these types of things.
It’s rather simple to identify foods that are the best for you. Things that are clearly recognizable as vegetable, fruit, or meat. In the grocery store, the areas you should focus on are the fresh produce and meat departments. Bear in mind that in today’s highly corporatized model of doing everything….even these foods can vary significantly in character. Go for the best that you can afford. Smaller-scale sources are often better than big Ag. If you know precisely where it comes from….that’s your best option.
Avoiding temptation begins at the store. DON’T BUY IT. There’s that moment at the store when you have the option to make a powerful choice. Choose wisely. Think. If you buy something….you intend to eat it….right? So don’t. Don’t even walk by things you know are your weaknesses in the store. Have a list. Stick to it. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Expect it to be difficult. If you’ve been eating processed foods for a long time you are chemically addicted. Corporations purposely engineer products to be addictive. They want to keep you coming back for more. When you stop eating these foods, anticipate withdrawals. Expect cravings. Expect to feel hungry. It’s will take at least a month of consistent clean eating to overcome this dependency. After that, you will begin to feel better. Your body has an amazing capacity to heal and adjust.
MODERATION & MINDFULNESS
Don’t stuff yourself at meals. Eat slowly. Relish it. Think of how lucky you are to have healthy and delicious food. Appreciate that you can taste the flavors and feel the textures, etc. Treat it as a wonderful experience. Mindfulness is something you should learn to practice in all aspects of your life. It’s the ability to concentrate on what you’re doing. You squeeze more goodness out of life if you develop your ability to be mindful.
I don’t eat 3 meals a day and I snack very little between meals. Unless you are doing extreme physical labor, you do not need to eat very much in a day. I normally eat two meals a day.
Try fasting. Eat only one meal during the day. Try not eating for an entire day. Do this intermittently. Maybe a few times per month. Research this topic and figure out what works for you. Fasting is proven to have many beneficial results. It makes you stronger. It invigorates the rejuvenating processes of the body.
- Limit cleaning products. I substitute more natural things when I can such as baking soda, vinegar, essential oils. I educate myself on chemicals contained in products.
- I don’t use air fresheners or artificial fragrances.
- I avoid/greatly limit such things as pesticides and herbicides in my environment. I DO NOT use them in a garden.
- I haven’t used cosmetics in several years. IF I were to ever do so again, I would opt for those with natural ingredients.
- I stopped coloring my hair. I don’t think this is something I’ll ever do again. Have you ever looked up the chemicals that are in hair colorants? I would say you’re better off forgoing exposure. Plus…you save money and time.
- I try to use a shampoo with less/better ingredients. I attempted no shampoo methods a few times. Unfortunately, it didn’t work great for me but you may have better results.
- Moisturizer: I use either natural Aloe or a coconut/coco butter mix that I make.
- I don’t regularly use soap of any kind on my face or body. I do use it to wash my hands OR in the event of doing a very dirty job.
- I go barefoot a lot. I don’t wear shoes that hurt my feet or body.
- I meditate and spend time in solitude/quiet.
- I read. I choose to learn new things on a regular basis.
- I engage in creative activities.
- I get plenty of sleep.
- I have routines and set priorities.
- I practice minimalism and essentialism when it comes to consumption.
- Develop daily rituals of care: Simple daily habits that help you make the most of the day and yourself. Make your bed. Clean face. Brush teeth (I use baking soda and mint oil). Keep a tidy house. Drink lots of water. Walk barefoot. Be outdoors. Breath deeply. Meditate. Think of what you’re grateful for. Do the dishes. Savor your food.
Mental & Emotional health is part of this. “Know thyself.” Introspection. Mindfulness. Learning about psychology. As someone who has suffered from depression and anxiety, I recommend studying Stoicism.
Good health comes from what you do consistently over time.
Health is a vehicle, not a destination.Joshua Fields Millburn
It’s not a diet that you do until the scale shows a certain number. It’s not a New Year’s resolution. It cannot be achieved through buying exercise equipment, a gym membership, or any sort of “health” product.
Health is what you do. EVERY SINGLE DAY. It is ALL the choices you make. It’s consciousness. It’s a priority you set. It’s being trustworthy to yourself. It’s the self-discipline to avoid what is an impediment to your goals. It is in your way of thinking. It is YOUR responsibility. It is a way of life. No one else can do it for you.
Doctors won’t make you healthy. Nutritionists won’t make you slim. Teachers won’t make you smart. Gurus won’t make you calm. Mentors won’t make you rich. Trainers won’t make you fit. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility. Save yourself.Naval Ravikant
Daily Stoic (health starts in your mind!)
Excitotoxins (in processed foods)