6 Cheap and Easy ways to Improve your Health

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Is shopping at Whole Foods, buying organic, and spending loads of money on pricey supplements draining your bank account and making you stressed out?

Here are my top 6 ways you can be a better you, without breaking the bank!

#1. Sleep– Getting a good night’s sleep is more important than just the obvious reason than to have more energy and focus. While you sleep your body heals itself and recovers from the stresses of life like long work hours and exercise. The main timeframe of this healing and recovery happens between 10pm and 2am. What you may not know is that lack of sleep may be sabotaging your diet. Recent studies show that impaired sleep effects insulin sensitivity, which means that you may have higher insulin levels that can lead to fat storage and even type 2 diabetes. Hormones are also regulated during sleep and dis-regulation of cortisol can lead to fat gain, especially in the belly area. On top of that, when you are tired, your ability to make good food choices diminishes and those high salt and high sugar snacks will be irresistible. So what if you missed out on sleep last night, are you doomed? Luckily, in as little as 15 minutes, you can recharge your batteries with a power nap, or meditation. Score a 20 minute nap during your lunch break for more energy and alertness all day. This little bit can help you keep cravings at bay and even avoid the vending machine! The best thing about sleep, naps, and meditation is that they are completely FREE! You can even find free guided meditation and calming music free on sites like youtube.

Blue light, beware. Don’t forget to turn those electronics off an hour before bed time. The blue light given off from your tv and computer tells your brain that its daytime and can trick you into staying up later. You can try some tinted lenses to watch your late night shows, or download f.lux (http://justgetflux.com) which tints your computer screen to a more orange hue after dark depending on your time zone.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/15/health/sleep-insulin-resistance/index.html

http://wp.me/p4knIu-1v http://examine.com/faq/how-important-is-sleep.html  

http://io9.com/the-science-behind-power-naps-and-why-theyre-so-damne-1401366016                  

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/mastering-the-mid-day-recharge-in-only-15-minutes/

#2 Deep Breathing  It seems too good to be true, but here is a freebie health tip that you can do anytime, anywhere! Breathing exercises have been used for ages to calm women during birth,  talk a child out of a tantrum, help an athlete focus, and even slow down your heart beat. Taking a deep breath can relieve stress, regulate hormones, and help you feel invigorated. During practices like yoga, students are taught many poses and stretches, but the common theme is always regulating your breath. There are even apps that can track your breathing and heart rate and help you train to calm yourself down from stressful situations. You can find apps like HRV Sense, or visit the website http://www.heartmath.org. Managing stress is one of the most important things you can do for your health so, sit up straight, take a big breath into your chest, and check out these unique breathing exercises:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/121387-breathing-exercises-lower-heart-rate/

http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/1468                                           

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aDEwZ2MuRk

#3 Warm water with lemonThis quick and easy morning ritual can cost you pennies a day but bring you a wealth of great benefits. Squeeze half a lemon into warm water and sip it when you first wake up. The vitamin C and other goodies in lemons charge up your digestion and metabolism, and could even take the place of your coveted coffee. It will leave you feeling refreshed with its alkalizing properties, and give your skin a boost of its healing powers.It can also help freshen your breath! This is certainly a “power drink”.  In addition to lemon water try other powerful drinks like green tea, and even “bulletproof coffee”.

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/category/coffee-2/           

http://www.livestrong.com/article/269786-lemon-juice-hot-water-health-benefits/    

http://fitlife.tv/benefits-warm-water-lemon/

#4 ExerciseAgain, no surprise that exercise can better your health. Luckily this does not have to require expensive memberships or clunky equipment. Walking is a great place to start. Just getting your body moving in any way will be beneficial and if you are up for it, you can do intervals of speed walking until you are ready for some for intense exercise. An interval for walking could be a 10 minute warm up followed by 60 seconds speed walking followed by 60 seconds easy walking and do this for about 20 minutes.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/17-reasons-to-walk-more-this-year/#axzz2wclqJG00   

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261

If you are ready for a more vigorous workout that can really get you in good shape, you might be ready for some HIIT (hight intensity interval training). This would consist of doing something like running in place, jumping jacks, mountainy climbers, burpees, jumping rope, or many other types of movements for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds rest and repeated for 15-30 minutes. Thanks to sites like http://www.youtube.com, you can find many workouts for free!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/14/hiit-workout_n_4426903.html  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzoqO3ENKNk

Resistance training is also a great option and this is when you work a muscle or set of muscles until they are fatigued such as doing push ups for arms, chest, back, and abs, or bench pressing a barbell. The idea is to put enough strain on the muscle that it tears and rebuilds itself into a larger muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn to maintain it. There are almost unlimited ways to do resistance training and usually include your body weight such as in push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, dips, and sit ups.

http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-fact-article/2661/strength-training-101/

Another type of resistance training is called “eccentric” exercise, meaning that instead of contracting muscles by lifting weights, you release the muscle using more weight than you can lift, to stimulate deep muscle fibers. This often uses weights but you can do the “free” version with moves such as a push up position where you only slowly move down toward the floor and then use assistance to push back up. Check out this video for more information:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ2F0FYcVsU

Unfortunately one mistake people make is using poor form or over doing exercise until they become hurt or injured. To avoid this it would be a good idea to hire a trainer to help teach you how to do each exercise properly and set you on a course of smart progression as to not go beyond your strength level. To save money on this, try convincing a few friends to go in on the trainer because they usually give discounted rates for multiple people. The next great tip on avoiding injury is to keep your muscles and tendons limber by “rolling” them out with a foam roller. This inexpensive piece of equipment is like having a daily sports massage and can really get into those knots and cramped area so your body can move more easily. Last tip on avoiding injury is taking the time to stretch properly. Classes like yoga and pilates are wonderful for elongating muscles and developing flexibility and avoiding injury at the gym (as long as you don’t over do the stretches and hurt yourself, remember, its not a contest!) There are wonderful inexpensive ways to do yoga such as: http://www.yogaglo.com where you can pay a reasonable monthly rate and can customize a great workout to do from your computer at home.

http://www.performbetter.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PBOnePieceView?storeId=10151&pagename=225                                                          

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJLxruO3su0

#5 Attitude– Being positive may not always be easy but one thing you can do to lift your mood is to focus on a few simple things that may brighten your day.  Not only can thinking positive make you feel better, it can improve your health!

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950                                                                         

http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/05/health/positive-thinking-deepak-chopra/

“Gratitude” might be some hooey word you remember from “The Secret” but there is much more to it than just wishing for all your dreams to come true. Being grateful for what you have helps you put things into perspective. Reminding yourself to be grateful for the smallest things such as a warm house, running water, shelter from the storm, having enough food, having friends and family, and then appreciating these things, will make any person feel lucky even on their worst day. A practice that is particular to nutrition is to appreciate your food. Before you eat anything, think to yourself, “I am grateful for this food, and my body appreciates all the nutrients”.

Ask yourself “WHY”. Having a reason to press on or achieve your goals will help you to stay motivated and positive. Some people say “i want to lose 20 pounds” but what that person might mean is that they want to feel less bloated, have more energy, and look great in their favorite jeans. Staying focused on the “why” is a great way to stay positive and have a good attitude about making positive changes in their life.

http://www.amazon.com/Make-Shift-Happen-Change-Changing/dp/1936608707

#6 Sit Down Less Sitting for long periods of time may be more damaging to your health than you thought. Being sedentary is an obvious reason that you should be active but long periods of sitting can shorten your leg muscles, strain your back and neck and lead to leg, hip, back and neck issues that need expensive rehabilitation. Another downside to sitting all day, year after year is that your arteries and blood vessels actually become stiffer, leading to heart disease. Stay mobile with a standing desk, stretch your back and legs often, move around your office while on phone calls, try a few apps that remind you to take 5 min to walk around your office or workplace every hour. Another way to  track your movement is to get a cheap pedometer and try for the coveted 10, 000 steps a day. You can motivate yourself to keep moving with an awesome website: http://earndit.com where you register a device such as a fitbit (http://www.fitbit.com) and earn points with your activities and those points turn into donations for charities! Super cool, and a great way to see how your activity is directly helping other people as well.

http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/       

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/25/135575490/sitting-all-day-worse-for-you-than-you-might-think

I hope you enjoyed these free and inexpensive tips, and let me know how they have worked for you! Thanks for reading,

Lauren                                                                                                                                       Nutritioneers