top 7: very common things that may be preventing you from being your healthiest self

5 January 2015

While reading Well and Good NYC’s round up of top wellness stories of 2014, I stumbled upon this article by Lisa Elaine Held.  Basically, between drinking green juice and hustling to crossfit, we are often guilty of at least one of these fairly easy to fix pitfalls.  Although we definitely don’t need to be perfect all the time, it may surprise you how good you feel from making even one or two of the simple changes that functional medicine physician, Susan Blum, MD suggests.

1. Your glass of wine is poured before your coat is off. “If you’re a generally healthy person, then alcohol in moderation seems to be okay,” Dr. Blum says. (Phew!) “But people don’t realize how much they’re actually drinking.” If it’s a multiple drinks per night situation, try sticking to one glass or “box it out,” she says, meaning skip a few days and only pop the cork during a designated time frame, like Thursday through Sunday.

2. You answer emails during dinner (and at yoga, and in bed…) If you’re super stressed all of the time, your cortisol levels will spike and all kinds of negative effects will follow, like five bonus pounds of stay-put muffin top, brittle nails, and more. “Stress hormones are often to blame,” when people are confused about health issues, Dr. Blum says. “They will undermine everything else. Women need to make sure that they’re not burning the candle at both ends for too long.”

3. Your bedtime is way too late (or non-existent). No one sleeps enough, and Dr. Blum says getting to bed at a reasonable hour is often the culprit, since women are getting home super late after a long day of work and late night hours are often the only ones they have to themselves. But it’s not just about the energy deficit you’ll have the next day. “It goes a step further because your body repairs and restores itself at night.”

4. You live on take-out. Really, who wants to cook after a 12-hour work day? But Seamless often equals extra sugar and salt, too. “You don’t always know what’s in there.” Try chopping veggies and pre-cooking quinoa on Sunday so you always have something to grab.

5. You skip breakfast. It often seems like all you need is coffee when you’re running out the door, until that mid-morning crash. “Making sure you eat breakfast and lunch and making sure both of those meals have a protein source” will help you maintain short-term energy and long-term health, Dr. Blum says.

6. Your household and beauty products are full of chemicals. Lots of healthy people refuse to buy non-organic produce for fear of pesticides and then, whoops, slather parabens on their skin and spray their counters with toxic cleaners. “The environment is really making people sick—we’re just exposed to so many things,” Dr. Blum says. You can’t totally avoid toxins, but you can start to pay attention and switch things out.

7. You have too little (or unsafe) sex. When it comes to a balanced sex life, “I don’t think people put it on their ‘healthy to-do list,’” Dr. Blum says. If you’re in a relationship and are a busy bee, you may be having too little. “People legitimately have low sex hormones from stress and lack of sleep,” she says (see points two and three, above), and prioritizing it more could help you get to a happier, healthier place. Or, if you’re dating, and can forget about the implications of hooking up in the heat of the moment, that’s an area to bring back into balance, too. 

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