Daily Health and Wellness Log and Monthly Bonus Goals For Healthy Living
In a fast-paced world, with high daily demands, it's harder than ever to monitor our personal health and wellness and give self-care time and attention. With obesity, diabetes, depression, and autoimmune diseases at an all-time high, the time to start paying attention to our body and mind is now.
I know what you're thinking. "Another health and wellness article telling me how I should eat, exercise, and organize my life". While this is true, I've tried to make this simple to follow. By not only providing a daily checklist to keep you on track, I have presented daily choices that are simple and a breeze to follow.
Everyone is busy, and time is minimal. The kids keep you on the move, jobs are demanding, and relationships erratic. However, if there is one thing I have learned in my 52 years of life as a mother of four, nurse, runner, and queen of late blooming, it's that if you do not take the time to care for your mental and physical well-being, your life will continue on a chaotic path. Your to-do list will get longer, while your bucket list grows shorter. We spend most of our time chasing our tails, feeling overwhelmed, sick, and tired.
Americans are overworked, unrested, generally overweight, and eat terrible. When I started traveling abroad back in 2016, my eyes were opened to just how terrible we treat our bodies compared to other parts of the world. My husband and I spent three weeks in Eastern Europe, touring seven different countries and there were five things we noticed they all had in common:
- Very little obesity
- Allot of movement; both on foot and on bicycles
- Less fast food sources, more fresh produce and meats, and smaller portions when dining out
- A more social climate; gathering to eat and listen to music with friends is commonplace
- Wine, coffee, and still or sparking waters are consumed much more than sodas with meals.
Print This Weekly Checklist and Mark Off Your Daily Accomplishments
Drink a Daily Java or Tea Without Refined Sugars or Artificial Sweeteners
It's a no-brainer that starting your day with a sugar bolus only sets you up for a mid-morning crash. Not only will your pancreas thank you, but you will learn to enjoy the actual flavor of coffee that many of us miss when we mask it with sugary calories. In reality, the healthiest way to drink coffee is black, but most of us do not enjoy the bitterness, which is why we turn to sugar and sugar-infused creamers. I personally prefer a splash of half and half, a touch of butter, and sprinkled cinnamon in my morning latte. Ditch the sugar bowl, artificial sweeteners, and those 5 pumps of your favorite syrup at Starbucks, for these simple and healthy substitutes instead:
Eat Organic Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy and Meat Whenever Possible and Cook With Healthy Fats
Organic means free of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, cruelty-free, and humanely raised. My favorite motto is "you are what the animal or plant you just ate, ate". Do you really want those thing inside your body?
Eating healthy and organic is not always easy when traveling or eating out. You can pack your own organic snacks and meals when possible, such as on road trips or when flying, and be as selective as you can otherwise. It's nearly impossible to do anything at 100%, but your best efforts can make all the difference in how you look and feel in your body. Your skin and internal organs will thank you for the strong efforts as will your wallet in decreased medical bills!
Visit farmer's markets. The small farmer works hard to bring you the best and most wholesome produce and meats. Cut out the middle man and buy direct from them whenever possible. Grow your own food when the season permits. Most of us do not have the luxury of having large amounts of land and growing space, so improvise by building raised bed gardens or using multiple large container with organic soil. This is the I have, but it's also very easy to build on your own (just be sure NOT to use pressure-treated lumber due to the toxic chemicals infused into it. Cedar, cypress, or redwood work best for longevity, but expect to replace the boards every five years or so). I bought my organic garden soil in bags from Home Depot. I plant tomatoes, peppers, green beans, lettuce, eggplant, onions, carrots, radishes, and have an herb garden in my flower bed on the side of my house. I always have plenty to share and can or freeze what I can't use. I was able to get a free rain barrel from my city too, so watering my garden is always easy and inexpensive. 4x8 foot raised garden
Research suggests that organic foods may have higher nutritional value because in the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants increase their production of vitamins and antioxidants. Some studies have linked pesticides in our food to everything from headaches to cancer to birth defects. Even low-level pesticide exposure, however, can be significantly more toxic for fetuses and children (due to their less-developed immune systems) and for pregnant women.
Say NO To Sugary, Processed, Artificial, and Salty Snacks
I have one word for this, "poison". I could easily list 100 reasons why sugar is the devil in disguise, but I will spare the lecture and touch on the big reasons.
First off, sugar affects your body's ability to regulate insulin. This is very taxing on your body and can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, which is chronic, life altering, and even life-threatening. Sugar also causes fat storage, which leads to obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases, not to mention fatigue and depression. The recommended maximum daily intake of sugar, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), is 6 teaspoons/100 calories for women and 9 teaspoons/150 calories for men. It's also wise to avoid artificial sweeteners, which can often mimic the action of sugar when metabolized by the body, plus they contain non-natural ingredients that research is now showing to be harmful to our health as well.
Names for added sugars on labels include:
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Malt sugar
- Raw sugar
- Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
Salt is another demon that contributes to increased blood pressure, thirst; water retention, and bloating. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium intake per day.
Salt is in just about everything, including canned and bottled vegetables and sauces, so be sure to read labels carefully, even if you don't think an item contains salt, and go easy on the shaker. Taste your food first before adding salt.
Drink 7-8 Glasses of Water
This is my number one healthy choice I make every day, and have my whole life. I attribute my life-long hefty water consumption to why I have very healthy skin, hair, nails, and overall general good health today. I do not look my age and have healthy, clear, wrinkle-free skin. I have been an avid water drinker since childhood, to the point that I annoy family and friends with my water rants! In addition to the benefits I mentioned, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states these reasons for why water is important:
Water helps your body:
- Keep your temperature normal
- Lubricate and cushion joints
- Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
- Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
If you cannot stomach drinking 64+ ounces of water throughout the day, try flavoring it with fruits such as lemons, limes, strawberries, or oranges. I personally make a jar of water every few days, and keep it in the refrigerator. There are a plethora of fruit-infused water recipes on Pinterest to keep water from being boring. My faithful two-gallon mason-typeis always full of water and close at hand, day and night. I recommend the Yeti for it's ability to keep water, with or without ice, cool for over 24 hours. 30 oz Yeti tumbler
Prepare Your Lunch For The Next Day
I feel the biggest reason for daily bad food choices is lack of preparation and planning, therefore, frequent trips for fast food or unhealthy cafeteria choices that are fast and easy. I try to make something on Sundays that can get my husband and I through the first few works days at work. Our favorite healthy and wholesome lunch to pre-make is my delicious chicken soup that is loaded with 20 healthy ingredients. I also try to make extra food when cooking dinner so that we have leftovers to take for lunch.
Consider Drinking 5 oz. of Red Wine Several Evenings Per Week
According to the CDC, Red wine, in moderation, is heart healthy. The alcohol, resveratrol, and antioxidants in red wine, may help prevent coronary artery disease, a link that is not completely understood. However, part of the benefit could be that antioxidants may increase high-density lipoproteins (HDL) aka "good" cholesterol and protect against bad cholesterol buildup.
I would discourage red wine consumption, to those with a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, as too much alcohol can have many harmful effects instead of helpful.
Exercise in Some Form at Least 30 Minutes Each Day and Avoid Sitting For More Than 50
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity over the course of a week and the guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.
Reducing sitting time is also important to decrease your risk of metabolic issues or even blood clots. Many of us have sedentary jobs, so setting a reminder on your phone to get up and move and stretch every hour, or take a stroll around the building can make a big difference
Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time outdoors has numerous benefits to overall health, the first being Vitamin D exposure. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sunlight hitting your skin, which activates Vitamin D in our bodies. Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and to fight off cancer, osteoporosis, depression, and heart attacks. Be careful not to get too much of a good thing and wear your sunscreen. I also recommend using natural products on your skin; especially sunscreen. (After visiting Aruba, I discovered this aloe-based sunscreen from Aruba Aloe that I highly recommend that is sans all the ingredients your skin can do without).
Fresh air is good for the mind and helps alleviate stress, symptoms of depression, brain fog, and the overall staleness of being stuck indoors. A hike or walk in the woods can be motivating and a reminder of how incredible our planet is and makes us more environmentally aware too. Even if it's cold, bundle up and go!
Take Some Time Out to Treat and Pamper Yourself
Each day, do one thing to take care of your outer layer. Our skin is our largest organ and most days, we totally ignore it. If we paid attention to one part of our skin each day, just imagine how beautiful and glowing we would look and feel. This does not only apply to women. Soft skin and self-indulgence is for everyone!
In addition to the monthly indulgences of haircuts, manicures, facials, or massages, I recommend the following pampering treatments, which include some of my favorite and inexpensive products. You needn't spend a ton of money to indulge in these daily delights:
- Give yourself a facial weekly to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize.
- Exfoliate your entire body in the shower with a sugar or salt scrub (it's also quite easy to make your own body scrub)
- with a foot mask that peels away dead skin (the reviews don't lie, this product really works!) Exfoliate and moisturize your feet
- your hair (you can get 3-4 treatments per packet and is the best value for your money, and will leave your hair silky and smooth the fly-aways) Deep condition
- Mini self-massage. (I love the for my legs and back and the Fascia Blaster for arms, neck, and feet) mini one
- Take an Epson Salt and bath. While not scientifically proven, the use of LavenderEpsom salts does seem to have many claimed benefits. It's my go-to remedy after a hard workout or post-marathon).
Step Away From Your Computer, Phone, Or Other Devices For Two Hours
Take a two-hour "digital detox" each day and connect with your family and friends or use that time to partake in the other activities mentioned above. This is the perfect time to prepare a healthy dinner, interact with your spouse and children, take a walk, a long bath, or exercise. The act of receiving a notification, even if you don’t reply to it, is enough to severely distract you from doing something productive.
A U.S. survey found that more than 73% of young adults (under 30) suffer from symptoms of digital eye strain from screen overuse, including dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, neck and back pain, and headaches.
Meditate or Relax Quietly For 15 Minutes
Mediation has a large place in my daily regimen and I cannot stress how much it has helped me cope with life's dysfunctions, just by closing my eyes and becoming mindful. I love Body Scan Meditation for achieving total relaxation and often find myself able to disconnect and fall asleep much easier and faster, especially when I've been stimulated by a computer screen or even watching a movie prior to bedtime. There are many wonderful body scan meditations on Youtube, and these are my two favorite videos/practitioners:
Keep a Daily Journal
Personally, I use Facebook as my journal. I don't post every day, but I do always try to post useful and relevant statuses. I have been having customized books printed of my Facebook entries in five-year intervals using a company called My
Social Book. Whether digital journal or handwritten, writing down your thoughts, musings, and daily experiences can be therapeutic and validating. Plus, it's a nice memoir to leave behind for your children and grands one day so they can feel close to you.
Get 7-9 Nightly Sleep Hours and Hide the Blue Lights
Sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend roughly one-third of our lives asleep. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) completed a two-year study to determine how much sleep people need by age category.
The NSF recommends the following to help you get a full night's sleep, which I also learned when I enrolled in a Cognitive Behavioral Program for combatting my insomnia several years ago:
- Stick to a sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- Exercise daily.
- Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine.
- Turn off electronics before bed.
95% of adults in a US study admitted to using some type of screen in the hour leading up to bed*. (Artificial blue light emitting from screens increase alertness and suppresses the hormone melatonin by up to 22% which negatively impacts sleep)". So here is yet another reason to unplug from those devises, especially as bedtime approaches.
Additional Wellness Goals to Complete Monthly
In addition to tending to your diet, exercise, and mental well-being, here are some things you can do throughout the month for yourself and others, as well as to organize and declutter your life and further add to a lifestyle of overall wellness and happiness.
- Take a “free-day” to indulge in a few of your favorites
- Reach out to a friend or family member and make plans with them
- Do a random act of kindness
- Plan a date night with your partner
- Plan a road trip or a weekend getaway that is within your budget
- Make a monthly budget and debt reduction plan
- Plant a garden
- Purge, toss, and clean one room in your house
- Organize your digital photos
- Make a digital scrapbook of a special event or collection of favorite photos
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Debra Roberts