Okay... for the final step, we are going to address a few things that will make sure you are getting the most out of your efforts to eat many whole foods every day. Any idea what I mean? Let's dig in!
I am living proof, that even if you're eating fantastic whole foods, sometimes things still won't feel quite right or seem "off." For example, the amount of hair loss I was experiencing LONG after my 2nd child was born, not just the typical few months after giving birth. Feeling "off" is often because we are not paying enough attention to our sleep amount/quality, movement, sunshine intake, needed time for injury recovery, stress levels, etc. Let's look closer at these other areas of life that may need a little bit more of your attention to really feel great!
As we get older, there are some pretty obvious signs when our hormones are not "firing" at the correct times, which is often initiated from not sleeping enough. For example, going to sleep late and not getting enough of it, will often make falling asleep harder later. This is because Melatonin isn't high enough in the evening to help make us feel tired to fall asleep and then Cortisol is kicking in too late in the morning (which is supposed to help us wake up & get going), which leaves us feeling tired and dragging all day. Insomnia, anyone?
Many of us overeat when we are tired too. This is usually due to the correlation between Leptin and sleep. Less sleep usually means lower Leptin levels. In case you didn't know, Leptin is one of the hormone that tells your brain that you are "full" and satiated. When there isn't enough Leptin, we might overeat. Don't blame Leptin, it is there to keep you from starving... 🙂
Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of pretty vicious cycles, and quickly. When you have time, read up on the other hormones affected by sleep deprivation. There are many. In the meantime, check out this post I did on ways to improve the quality of your sleep. This is something that is worth making a daily priority!
Remember how I mentioned having some really late postpartum hair loss? Yes, stress was the key driver. I had put my adrenals through a lot and they definitely needed some extra support that I was not providing. The way my body was communicating that need to me, was through hair loss. Our bodies are trying to tell us things all the time, we just may not realize it (headaches, acne, stomach aches & bloating, skin flare ups, achy joints, inflammation, etc.).
- I have become a pretty huge fan of a nice hot bath with a couple cups of epsom salt in it with a drop or two of lavender essential oil. A good 15-30 minutes of soaking always leaves me feeling better.
- Journaling can be an effective stress management technique. There is something about writing things out that can bring them into perspective and aids the brains in coming up with strategies to handle them.
- Meditation can also be great tool for working through stress. Sometimes just a few deep, intentional breaths can help diffuse a situation. I really do believe in the power of the mind and that we believe the things we are "telling" ourselves often. Meditation can help us realize the things we are repeatedly telling ourselves that we may not have realized otherwise.
- Exercise can be a good method to relieve stress for some people but it can also be an additional stressor for your body (depending on what you are doing). So I just want you to be aware of that possibility during stressful times. Sometimes a little R&R (rest and recovery) will do more for you than exercise, especially if you have had a physical injury.
- I have found some gentle yoga practice to be happy medium option for managing stress while still getting in some stretching, movement, and toning. It is also great to help clear the mind and become more connected with how the body is doing.
Daily Dose of Sunshine
Make Time to Play!
Woot! I really am so proud of you. I would urge you to reference these steps as you are going at your pace toward a whole food lifestyle. There are a lot of tips, tricks, recipes and ideas to help support you in this journey. Not everything will resonate with or work for you. No worries, but keep trying out different ideas. A journal can be really helpful in figuring out how different foods make you feel or how your mood varies when you spend some time outside, how your mind changes when you play... etc.
If you feel like you need extra support in this journey or are having ongoing symptoms, finding a good Naturopathic Doctor or nutritional Therapy Practitioner near you can be priceless. I have utilized a Naturopathic Doctor a few times and found it very helpful!
Finally, can I ask one favor of you? Please share these steps with someone you think could benefit from them! Let's change the health of our culture one person at a time. Starting with ourselves. I wish you well in this journey of health and thriving! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help as you are chugging along!