The holidays are upon us. While it’s easy to rush around, wear yourself down, and forgo taking care of your body, this doesn’t have to be your mode of operations this time of year. Here are five simple practices to help you stay healthy and keep sane through what I’ll refer to as the holiday hustle. Because ain’t nobody got time to be down and out.
1. Eat Well
I’m a firm believer that staying healthy begins in the kitchen. Eating well is crucial to keeping strong and fueling your body with the elements it needs to prosper. In a post I wrote for Women’s Running Magazine, I noted seven plant-based foods I recommend getting your fill of this season: sweet potatoes, winter squash, quinoa, lentils, beets, greens, and citrus, plus some tips to help you spice up your meals with healthy extras.
Read Women’s Running Feature Here: “7 Plant-Based Foods That Boost Your Immune System”
“Above all else, we choose to stay. We choose to fight the darkness and the sadness, to fight the questions and the lies and the myth of all that’s missing. We choose to stay, because we are stories still going. Because there is still some time for things to turn around, time for surprises and for change. We stay because no one else can play our part. Life is worth living. We’ll see you tomorrow.” — Jamie Tworkowski, Founder of To Write Love on Her Arms
TWLOHA’s “We’ll See You Tomorrow” campaign is one to carry with you for keeps—hope always involves tomorrow.
With September being National Suicide Prevention Month, this week being National Suicide Prevention Week and Thursday (Sept. 10) being World Suicide Prevention Day, themes of life, death, joy, sadness, hope, and despair have been weighing both heavy and light on my heart and mind (then again, they always do).
I have a number of close friends and family members in my life who have battled, or are battling, depression. The closest of these people being me.
By default, I’m an anxious human. When not in check, my subconscious mind has the ability to get the best of me. And if I’m not careful—I’m in deep before I even realize. At that point, it can be a steep uphill climb to move beyond the bundle of nervous energy that has come crashing down on me.
For those (millions) of us living with anxiety, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing. That said, anxiety is something that we must live with and manage so it doesn’t cause our bodies harm, or have a negative impact on our relationships (with ourselves or others).
Although some seasons of my life are more anxiety-ridden than others, the following methods and activities help me cope and live with a clearer mind regardless of what is happening externally.
There are a number of reasons I love running, but one benefit of running that oftentimes goes unrecognized is its stress-relieving properties. When I start my day running, it sets the tone for the whole day—clear mind, energized body, focused spirit. This is true for every single run, whether it’s a strong 10 mile training run that’s invigorating and empowering, or a 2 mile shuffle that’s so miserable I can barely keep my feet moving. When I follow up my work day with a run, it’s a similar scenario. A post-work run allows me to reset my brain and shift my attention away from work before the evening begins. No matter how intense, or what time of day, running provides me with instant decompression and gratification. It gets the blood flowing, not only to my brain, but to each and every part of my body.
TIP: If you hate running, try another aerobic activity. What do I mean by aerobic? I mean cardiovascular exercise, be it biking, hiking, swimming, dancing, or even simply taking a speedy walk with your dog— anything to get your body moving, oxygen flowing, and your heart rate up. I find that getting my heart rate up while exercising helps me have a lower resting heart rate, which also means my body is less likely to store up nervous energy to be released in a negative way.
I’ve been reading quite a bit of Courtney Carver’s Be More with Less blog lately, and it’s reaffirming the decisions Andrew and I have been making to rid ourselves of all kinds of excess. A particular post titled, “Why You Should Give Away 50% of Your Stuff,” really speaks to me.
In the past month, I’ve quit a freelance project that was taking up an entire day every single week, and made a move across town in an effort to alleviate burdens, and simplify my life with Andrew. Immediately following this move, we hosted a yard sale to get rid of a solid chunk of our belongings, as step one of cutting what we own in half.
To say that the changes that have transpired in the last month are freeing is a profound understatement. We now have less physical space to take care of, less physical belongings weighing us down, less stresses in our lives, and more freedom to live.
Here is a quick look at some of the steps we’ve taken recently (and are continuing to take) to simplify. If you are finding yourself bogged down by physical belongings, or mental clutter in this current season of life, I invite you to consider any one (or all) of the following challenges.
Reality—we all exist within the confines of complex human bodies. Regardless of shape or size, we are all comprised of bones, flesh, blood, and teeth.
While our spirits may be infinite, we rely on these physical forms to carry us throughout our daily activities. To keep our bodies functioning at their best, it is up to us to feed ourselves what we need to thrive and heal, rather than merely survive, or breakdown. This is my ultimate motivation and drive for supplying my body with plant-based food that is as close to its natural form as possible.
Going vegan at the start of my 20s, coupled with a move toward mindfulness and reevaluating my relationship with food, turned my life around for the better. Still, I am not here to say choosing to eat only plants is a magical shield, nor am I wearing some sort of invincibility cloak. The truth is, everyone gets worn down sometimes.
Even us vegans get sick.
A week ago Sunday I was running down the streets of New Orleans with thousands of fellow runners. It was my third time participating in the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
These 13.1 miles took me through downtown, along St. Charles and back, through the French Quarter and toward City Park. I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:04:09, soaked in a mixture of ice cold water, salt, and sweat.
Before offering a play by play of the race, I feel I must first acknowledge the moments leading up to the start line, and the love that supported me along the way.
This photo was taken Friday night at the expo. Stopping by the expo just before it closed on night one, rather than waiting until Saturday, meant we were able to walk through and see everything without the crowd, and take our time being silly.
As if Vega wasn’t already number one in my book when it comes to clean, plant-based nutrition products, they’ve found a way to make their signature Vega One, All-In-One Nutritional Shake, even better.
There are nutritional shakes and dietary supplements of all shapes and sizes out there on the market. Some are part of larger pyramid schemes, while others claim to offer a “get fit quick” fix. The first thing I love about Vega is there’s no scheming involved, nor does Vega offer empty promises of an overnight transformation of any kind.
Vega was founded by Brendan Brazier, a vegan, and former professional Ironman triathlete, who was driven by the desire for complete plant-based nutrition. As a result, Vega products are formulated with health and performance in mind. With Vega you get the real deal, absent of suspicious ingredients. You also get what you pay for—high quality products that go a long way. As someone who is anti-artificial and doesn’t buy into gimmicks, I consider these factors to be of the utmost importance.