The story behind 5 bites is that your well-being relies largely on these five factors:
nutrition, exercise, sleep, emotional balance, and avoiding toxins. The biggest factor is nutrition, which is closely linked to all the other four factors – it’s really the base of it all:
what you eat will determine how much energy you have to exercise, how well you sleep at night, it can affect your mood, and it can be full of or free of toxins.
So let’s take a closer look at each “bite” and why it’s so important for your well being.
1. Eating healthy and nutritious food
That is pretty much the foundation of it all. The fuel you give your body will determine how well it runs. Think of your body like a beautiful, luxurious and high tech sports car. You want to drive it your entire life and therefore you make sure it only gets the best grade fuel.
Eating food that is rich in nutrients (not just empty calories) will keep you feeling full and satisfied longer, so that in the end you’ll actually need less food. You’ve probably experienced this before: you eat Chinese takeout with white rice and fried spring rolls and feel stuffed and tired afterwards, but 1-2 hours later you already get hungry again!? Step 1: order it with brown rice and notice a difference.
2. Exercise – move it, shake it!
Yes, the dreaded e-word. I’ve been guilty myself of not breaking a sweat unless it’s just too hot outside, but this bite is key to keeping you from getting rusty. What happens to your sports car when you don’t drive it? Its engine breaks! Same with you – so let’s find a way to get moving. I have some great tips on the 5 invalid excuses page 😉
Keep in mind that every little thing counts, so take the stairs, walk more and stop hitting the snooze button. Instead, get out of bed and wake up your body with a short 10-minute morning yoga routine. Don’t worry – nobody’s watching, so you can do this in your PJ’s and to your best ability.
Allow yourself to be a beginner – no one starts off being excellent.
Unless you just had a baby and are forced to wake up every 2 hours, you should aim for at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. One rough night is not going to ruin everything, but you know how “well” you function on 4 hours of sleep… Getting enough sleep is not just for feeling awake enough to make it through the day – it is also your body’s recovery time. Your organs use this time of rest to regenerate, to reboot and also to heal. If you don’t allow your body to get enough rest, it won’t be able to reboot effectively.
One of our biggest sleep enemy these days is TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching movies and relaxing on the couch with another episode of “Modern Family” or the History Channel, but I stick to a “lights-off” hour. If your day runs late and your usual bedtime comes before you have time for TV, then don’t even turn it on. Studies have shown that screen time right before bed can cause restless sleep. If you’re still too wired to go to sleep, take a book to bed and read for a little while. It’s more relaxing, and provides some soothing “me-time”, which is the next bite:
4. Feed your Soul
When you crave comfort foods, put down the pint of ice cream and go outside for a walk instead. If it’s raining, take an umbrella. If you’re at work, take a walk around the block or to the nearest window or terrace. If it’s the middle of the night, take a flashlight…. OK, no! I’m kidding on that one. In that case, grab a book or take a hot shower. My point is that sometimes we just need to get out and see some daylight or a change of scenery. There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself and not doing anything productive. It is OKAY! In fact you should even try to meditate for 15 minutes at least once a week. 15 minutes is nothing for a week (which has 10,080 minutes)! Meditating doesn’t have to sound strange or foreign – it can be as simple as sitting or laying down and closing your eyes, just focusing on your breathing. Try it today!
Feeding your soul also means to take care of your emotional needs, getting enough personal time with your family, your kids, your friends and anyone whose company makes you feel better.
5. Remove the Toxins
Smoking and drugs are obviously bad for you. An occasional glass of wine with dinner is totally fine – but alcohol in excess is bad. Those are no-brainers, but then there are the hidden ones: pesticides, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and all those acronyms we read about: BPA, BHT, TBHQ, MSG, HFCS, …
This is where you have to become a little food detective and read the ingredient labels more so than the nutrition label.
In a nutshell, chemical additives and modified forms of food will have some sort of long term damaging effect to your body’s hormone system, nervous system, or the organ directly. There are numerous websites and books that cover these dangers in depth and I have read several of them. Since most of us are pressed for time and want instant information, I can recommend watching one of those authors’ TED Talk video. It is eye-opening enough for most people and really easy to understand: Robyn O’Brien’s “Patriotism on a plate”
Once you start to see through the marketing fluff of the big food companies wanting to sell you the latest zero-calorie, fat-free, all-natural whatever, you’ll turn your nose on that and start to think with your wellness in mind:
“I could eat that, but I don’t WANT it!”