Living your best life doesn’t have to wait for a day when the weather is perfect, when you have extra money in your bank account, or when you’ve lost that last 10 pounds.
Your best life starts right now, in this moment, this second when you decide that from now on, you are going to make the best choices for you.
That means you’re not competing with a co-worker, a Pinterest perfection or some stranger's glamorous life on Instagram. That means you’re no longer worried about keeping up with the Joneses, or doing what other people think you should be doing. Your best life is designed by you, for you, and is all about you.
For some people, that may sound selfish, excessive or extreme. But when you consider the things that really are the best for you, you begin to see that balance is at the center of your best life, as is health, love, and compassion. So let’s explore what your best life really means outside of eating snow crab and popping bubbly every day.
The best you is a healthy you, not necessarily the perfect BMI percentage or the “right” clothing size. A healthy you is strong, vibrant and full of energy. A healthy you gets that way by getting a good balance of all the right stuff:
- Sleep: most adults need 6-8 hours a night.
- Nutrition: real food, mostly from plants.
- Hydration: Eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day works for most people
- Movement: you gotta move it or lose it - 1.5 to 2 hours per week
- Companionship: surround yourself with people who want to see your best self
If you feel like your best life is somewhere out there, or some day that has yet to come, you can begin to adjust these five basic components and make improvement to your life starting today!
Sleep is important
Sleep can be a challenge, especially in this high-tech day and age where everyone seems attached to a screen. But good sleeping habits are the foundation for improved mood, better energy, and higher cognitive function. Everyone doesn’t require the same amount of sleep, but everyone has to sleep. When you sleep you give your brain the opportunity to “clean up the hard drive” so to speak, which is why sometimes when faced with a tough decision, you’re able to make a move after you’ve had a chance to “sleep on it.”
Ideally, your bedroom should be cool, dark and free from all screens and illumination. Setting a bedtime routine can help your brain and body wind down and prepare for a night of rest. A hot bath or shower will relax your muscles and allow your body temperature to drop quickly after you dry off, which will also tell your brain it’s time to get ready for bed.
Set a bedtime and try to stick with it, and try not to eat anything two hours before you plan to go to sleep. If you are having problems sleeping or staying asleep, talk to your physician to see what options are available for you.
Embrace a healthy diet
Nutrition is key to living your best life because you really are what you eat! Calorie for calorie, a plant-based diet is the way to go if you want to pack in lots of nutrients, fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. But that doesn’t mean you have to commit to being a vegan today.
Instead you can commit to putting more vegetables on your plate, every meal, every day. In fact, make a goal of making half of your plate vegetables. Work vegetables into your snack. Plan vegetable-based dishes for your gatherings and celebrations. Find ways to incorporate local produce or shopping at local farmer’s markets into your lifestyle.
Eating vegetables doesn’t have to be confined to boring steamed broccoli. As our culture has shifted its focus to a healthier lifestyle, hundreds of cookbooks have been published that are just about preparing vegetables. And the internet is populated with millions of videos and recipes featuring vegetables from around the world.
So next time you are staring at your smartphone, instead of playing Candy Crush, do a search for some recipes that you can try.
Water packs a punch
Many people struggle with hydration because they may be too busy to grab some water, or they may not want to use the restroom frequently. But proper hydration may be one of the best ways to instantly boost your mental alertness, reduce body aches, and improve elimination.
Your body is 70 percent water and operates well when it’s hydrated. Lack of water can contribute to confusion, dizziness, a false sense of hunger (which can attribute to over-eating and poor food choices), dry or dull looking skin, muscle cramps and heart palpitations. That’s definitely not living your best life.
So do the easy thing and drink more water. If water isn’t appealing you can dress it up with cucumber slices and a sprig of mint, or a squeeze of lemon with a touch of honey. You may have heard that your body doesn’t benefit from the water in caffeinated drinks or food, but that’s not entirely true. Juicy foods like watermelon and oranges can improve your hydration, and as long as you aren’t drinking too much soda or coffee your body can extract the water from those drinks as well. Still, water really is the best option for maximum hydration.
Movement is important
If you don’t love to exercise, try to find an activity you do enjoy that involves movement. It could be line dancing, gardening, walking a pet, cycling, swimming, hiking, or throwing a ball around with the kids. Moving your body is essential to your overall health and promotes joint health, cardiovascular and muscular fitness, bone density and better sleep habits. As we age, it is important that we stay strong, maintain our balance and work on our flexibility so that we can enjoy moving safely through our lives and avoid injury.
For people who have mobility issues, water exercise classes at the local YMCA or Lou Walker Senior Center or chair exercise videos on YouTube can be a good place to start a low-impact workout that’s modified for you.
If you are bored with your usual routine, don’t be afraid to try a new sport, a Zumba class, or sign up for a 5K walk/run for charity. Mix it up and stay active. Your body will thank you, your energy levels will increase, and you’ll sleep like a baby!
Keep good company
When it come to the people you surround yourself with, consider them mirrors. What would you like to see reflected back at you? Hopefully, you’d like to see happy, loving, well-adjusted people with a good sense of humor who are kind, responsible and compassionate.
Those are good people to be around! So take an inventory of who you are spending your time with and decide whether or not they are supporting your best life. If you have too much dead weight, emotional vampires, or someone who is a constant state of crisis it may be time to build some boundaries.
In your best life, the people in your life will care about you and want to build you up, not wear and tear you down.
In your best life, you will have people who inspire you, hold you accountable, and listen to your needs. Your tribe should strengthen you and encourage you to get out into the world and make a difference in whatever way is your personal gift. These are the folks who will have your back and want you to be the best you that you can be.
If you’re not getting the love, respect and encouragement you need from the people in your life, then it’s time to clean house. There’s no room for “haters” in your best life, because it’s all love!
Living your best life can begin today if you take stock of how you’re living and make some adjustments to ensure that you are right with yourself. Then when you make goals and take action you know you’re coming from a solid, real place inside of you. Not a hungry, sleep deprived, low-energy place; but a nourished, empowered, supported and recharged place!
Moving through your life as your best self will attract like-minded people and positive circumstance because I believe the universe really does conspire to bring you what you want when you step powerfully and intentionally into the world. Your goals and dreams deserve the best you have to offer, so start by living your best life today.
- Asata Reid is a Life Chef who is making the world a healthier place, one plate at a time. For classes and recipes visit her at www.lifechef.net and www.youtube.com/chefasata. Follow her at twitter.com/chefasata and www.facebook.com/LifeChef.