People doing yoga outdoors

Being Healthy is More than a Number on the Scale

I know that being slim is at the top of your wish list, and it’s a big deal for me as well. Nothing in the world makes me happier than pulling on that new pair of skinny jeans and discovering that it fits like a glove—woo hoo! When it comes to good health, however, I know that being at my ideal weight is just part of the picture. That’s because being truly healthy is a lifestyle—not just a number on the scale. And today, I want to talk about seven of the most important elements of that lifestyle.

Eat right.

We all know people who live on low-cal frozen meals, diet sodas, and nonfat yogurt. Many of them are dragging through life with bad skin, bad hair, a bad mood, and zero energy. In addition, we all know people who live on junk—a bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast, a burger and fries for lunch, a super-sized soda in the afternoon, and pizza for dinner. These people may stay slim for a while, but eventually they crash and burn, developing a big belly, sleep apnea, or even diabetes. Why are both of these groups of people—the low-cal, low-fat dieters AND the junk-food junkies—so unhealthy? Because they’re not feeding their bodies the foods their cells crave.

So here’s the first and biggest step toward glowing health: EAT REAL FOOD. Banish fat-free pseudo-foods, artificial sweeteners, fake flavors, soy Frankenfoods, and junk foods from your kitchen. Say “no” to drive-through meals, over-processed frozen meals (even if they claim to be “healthy”), and barcoded foods with ingredients you can’t even identify. Instead, eat the cleanest and highest-quality meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs you can afford.

Load your plate with nutrient-rich veggies, and toss in a handful of berries or half a grapefruit. Include a dose of healthy fat in every meal, and add healing collagen to your diet with collagen shakes and bone broth. I know that eating like this takes more effort than microwaving a “healthy” frozen meal or scarfing down a fast-food taco. But it’s the #1 key to getting slim, energetic, and healthy—and glowing health is a very big reward for a few extra minutes in the kitchen.

Get a handle on your stress.

Your body is wired to respond to the stresses your early ancestors faced—for instance, a raging thunderstorm or a rampaging bear. However, it’s NOT designed to handle the constant grind of today’s world, from job pressures to bills to family crises. This modern-day stress never lets up, and it can grind you down over time. It can hike your cortisol levels, giving you a “cortisol tire” even if you’re slim everywhere else.

In addition, it can wreck your skin and hair, leave you bitchy and depressed, and even age your cells faster. I wish I could wave a magic wand and get rid of your stress, but I can’t.  However, I can tell you how to take control over it: by practicing simple, powerful stress-busting techniques every day. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Meditate.
  • Do breathing exercises.
  • Do yoga or Tai Chi.
  • Read a book.
  • Start a journal.
  • Take up a new hobby.
  • Watch a funny show.
  • Call a good friend.
  • Play with your dog, your cat, or your kids.

Also, get a little outdoor time each day. A quick hit of Mother Nature—whether it’s planting some herbs in your garden, walking the dog, or simply admiring the flowers outside your office at work—can ratchet your stress down fast. Finally, stop volunteering for every bake sale, school field trip, or office project. You know my mantra: Strategize your yesses! If you’re overwhelmed, make a list of everything you’re doing, and start chopping things off that list. Every time you do this, you’ll reclaim more “you” time that you can use for activities that lower your stress and truly make you happy.

Move all day long.

We’re made to move, but these days we spend hours every day sitting instead. Whether we’re commuting to work, sitting in the office, or parked on the couch watching TV, we spend far too much time with our bottoms in a chair. One result of this is what I call “flat butt.” That’s when your bottom gets saggy and droopy, like a deflating party balloon. However, far worse things than “flat butt” can happen if you sit all day long.

Too much sitting leads to weight gain, insulin resistance, poor posture, low muscle tone, and a host of other health problems that doctors refer to collectively as the sitting disease. What’s the answer? In addition to working out at least three or four times each week, get in the habit of moving every hour. At work, stand up and do some stretches, climb the stairs instead of using the elevator, and visit coworkers rather than emailing them. At home, dance to your favorite music or walk around the room as you watch TV. (A step tracker can motivate you to up your game.) All of this is easy, and all of it will help keep your body young, slim, and healthy.

Get your shut-eye.

Sleep rocks!  Getting a good night’s sleep enhances your immune function, refreshes your brain, brightens your mood, and keeps your metabolism working efficiently so you burn off those calories. However, I know it can be hard to get enough zzzz’s when you’re busy and stressed. Here are some tips that can make it easier:
  • Set a bedtime. It’s easier to fall asleep when you sack out at the same time each night.
  • Turn off your devices at least one hour before bedtime, because the blue light emitted by them messes with your melatonin levels. If you can’t bring yourself to shut your devices down, use blue light-blocking glasses. (Some devices also have a blue light-reducing setting.)
  • Create a bedtime ritual. For instance, set aside an hour to write in your journal, take an Epsom salt bath, read a novel, or chill out with some soft music.
  • Drink a mug of bone broth with dinner. The glycine in the broth will help to soothe and relax you.

Above all, prioritize sleep. Remember that it’s not just “down time”— it’s your body’s rest, refresh, and repair time, and getting enough of it is far more important than catching up on a few chores or watching the late show.

Tackle those toxins.

Tons of nasty chemicals are lurking around your home in cleansers, scented candles, bug sprays, yard care products, and detergents. They’re even hiding in your soaps, shampoo, and makeup! Luckily, it’s easy to swap out toxic products for clean ones. If you aren’t sure which brands to buy, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database and their Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Also, clean up your water. If you can’t afford a whole-house filtration system, get point-of-use filters for your faucets and showers.

Create a supportive inner circle.

Forget about being popular (seriously, that’s SO high school!). Instead, cultivate a small group of friends who will make your life better. Here’s how to recognize these people:
  • They leave you feeling energized.
  • They make you feel better about yourself, rather than worse.
  • They really listen to you.
  • They cheer you on when you’re working to get healthier, and steer you straight if you’re acting in unhealthy ways.

Friends like these don’t just make you happy; they help keep you healthy as well. A good social network can reduce your stress and even lower your risk for high blood pressure and obesity. As you’re cultivating your inner circle, ease out the people who don’t share your values or who take too much advantage of you. It’s fine to be friendly with these people, but draw the line when it comes to being friends.

Be kind to yourself.

It always amazes me that we strive so hard to be kind to others, and yet we’re frequently cruel to ourselves. This is especially true for over-achievers, who are constantly beating themselves up over every perceived flaw. To be truly happy and healthy, you need to stop this self-bullying and start being as kind to yourself as you are to others. Here are some tips for doing this:
  • Stop thinking of mistakes as failures. Instead, think of them as life lessons, say “next,” and move forward.
  • Quit the negative self-talk, and send yourself positive messages instead. For instance, rather than saying, “I need to lose weight because I look terrible,” say, “I want to lose weight because I deserve to be healthy.”
  • Do something nice for yourself every day. This may actually be a difficult habit to cultivate if you’re used to spending all your time trying to please your kids, your partner, your parents, or your boss. To make sure you don’t skip this random act of self-kindness, set a daily reminder on your phone.

Finally, stop comparing yourself to other people. Instead of wishing you were more like them—richer, more beautiful, more talented—focus on being the best YOU that you can be. You’ll be amazed at how this simple shift in attitude changes your life for the better. Put all of these seven strategies into play, and you’ll be healthy and happy from head to toe. And every one of these smart moves will help you get slim and stay slim as well… so your healthy, happy body will look awesome in those skinny jeans!

Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!