Did you know your body wasn’t created to feel hungover, sluggish and exhausted every morning? You were created to feel rested, light, clean and full of energy. Feeling amazing comes by taking care of yourself, from the inside out. It’s not about being skinny or looking perfect. It’s about letting your body exist at its highest intended level, by eating well, drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep. What I’m about to share is what has helped me feel cleaner, lighter, more energized and more alive than I have ever felt before.
I am not claiming to be a nutritionist, diet expert, life coach or personal trainer. I am just an often-frazzled stay-at-home mom, trying to make the best choices I can for a healthy lifestyle. These are simply the steps that have worked for me. In making these changes, use common sense and definitely consult a doctor before making drastic changes to your diet and exercise routine.
Feeling good is about living well. It’s not about depriving yourself of what you love. It’s about giving your body what it needs and what it truly craves at its core. You may have forgotten, thanks to a sugar addiction or frequent stops at the drive-thru, but at its core, your body truly does crave good, clean, green foods. It’s my belief that, in vegetables and water, God has given us the most perfect forms of fuel for our body. Before you laugh, try it. I did, and I’ve never felt healthier or more alive.
Get 8 hours of sleep. Yes, it’s hard. I get it. I go to boot camp every morning at 6am, and I have 2 kids under the age of 3. If you’re a working mom, I’d say there are even more demands on your schedule and sleep. Let me spell it out: make it a priority and it will happen. If you get up at 5am (like I do), then here’s the deal: never go to sleep after 9pm. Just don’t. That TV show, that book, paying those bills, that glass of wine… none of them will make you feel better in the morning. Get your sleep. It’s the foundation of what you need to get through tomorrow. (And when you’re more rested, you make waaaay better food choices too.)
Drink 80+ ounces of water per day. When I feel amazing, it’s because water is all I’m drinking (and maybe a little coffee, done my healthy way). Water at breakfast. At lunch, snack, dinner, a tall glass of ice water. Water all the time. Here’s the amount of water you should be aiming for each day: half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces of water per day. Since most of us don’t think in ounces, here’s a visual. That’s about 4 of these glasses. I aim for 5.
This is my huge Mason jar, and at all times, it has ice water and a straw in it and is usually within 20 feet of me. (I find that having a straw in my water helps me drink so much more of it.) I know that it’s 25 ounces, so I make it my goal to drink 5 of these a day. Water is truly the source of sooo much goodness for our body. When I’m talking to friends who say they’re not feeling well, they’re always tired or they’re always hungry and wanting to snack, my first question is: have you been drinking enough water? The answer is always no. Oh, and also, water makes your skin look amazing. Get your water and you’re getting that healthy glow that we all want.
Eat more veggies. This is a maaaaaaajor part of my lifestyle, and it’s the main reason I lost 25 pounds and 8% body fat after the birth of my second son. If veggies scare you, let me give you this piece of advice: don’t think about eating more veggies as depriving you of something else. Retrain your brain. (After all, eating is sooo mental.) Think about how delicious veggies are, how filling they are (they truly are) and how great they are for your body. Instead of planning your dinners around protein, make veggies the centerpiece of every meal.
This is a recent dinner I made for our family, and everyone (including my steak-loving husband) loved it. I just threw all these veggies on a baking sheet and, using my favorite eat-your-veggies roasting recipe, roasted them up (at about 375 degrees for 30 minutes or so). It’s easy, simple, delicious, filling and perfect body fuel. (Another one of my favorite, satisfying veggie recipes is the Cozy Up roasted red cabbage salad.) I legit spend about $60 in veggies every week, but I spend so much less in other areas because we aren’t eating processed foods. Do it. If you don’t think veggies will fill you up, let me challenge you. For one meal, tell yourself: I will only eat veggies, but I can eat as many as I want. No portion control. Load your plate up with as many veggies as you like. For me, that’s roasted sweet potato, a huge green salad with sprouts and at least 5 types of veggies, roasted green beans, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I tell myself: If I’m eating veggies for this whole meal, there are no limits. I will eat as much as I want. Let me tell you, I am full every time (and I am a big eater, in general). I even made a little game with myself of trying a brand new veggie each week. It keeps it interesting, and it keeps the veggies on my plate. Win and win.
Eat lean proteins like fish, chicken, nuts and beans. Breaking news: you don’t need to eat meat with every meal. Yes, it’s true. Some of my favorite protein sources are: hard-boiled eggs, almonds, sunflower seeds, black beans, garbanzo beans, 19¢/serving slow cooker refried beans, kidney beans, salmon, tuna and chicken sautéed in coconut oil on the stove, or cooked in salsa and water in the slow cooker. Get over the old-school way of thinking, that steak and chicken need to be present in every meal. You’re so much more chic than that.
No alcohol. This is a hard one for me because I associate drinking with having fun, being social and blowing off steam after those tough child-rearing days. And I’ve also found some cocktails that are low-calorie, so I feel I can justify it. Just don’t. For 3 days. Just drink water. It’s waaaaaay better for you. You got this.
No grains or dairy. I used to gawk at people who gave up dairy. Why? People have been drinking cow’s milk and consuming dairy products for generations, and they are fine. Then, as part of a body transformation challenge through my boot camp, I gave it up for 28 days. I figured I had nothing to lose. I felt better than ever before. I don’t know why. I don’t know the science behind it. I am certainly not saying that dairy is bad for you because I don’t know that. What I do know is that I stopped eating yogurt, cow’s milk and cheese, and I’ve never felt better. And that’s enough for me. Same goes with grains, like breads and tortillas. Just don’t eat ’em. At least for these 3 days. (The one exception I make is Ezekiel bread, which is in the frozen bread section of the grocery store. But only 1 slice at a time.)
No added sugars or processed foods. Basically, don’t eat anything that comes in a package. Pretty easy. Again, it’s back to veggies, lean proteins and water. Trust me, it’ll be amazing because you’ll feel great after these 3 days. (The one exception I make are Lara Bars, which are made from pure ingredients. On the label, you see words you can pronounce like coconut, cashews and blueberries.)
Spend 1 hour per day outside. Stop. And let me tell you. There is nothing that feels more amazing than eating well, being rested and going to the beach, feeling the sun on your skin, looking around and thanking God for the beautiful earth He created and the perfect body He gave you to maintain. It doesn’t have to be the beach. It can be the park, the playgroup, the view from your seat in the plane on your business trip. Take perspective. Choose to be grateful for that feeling of flush on your skin when the sun hits it. Don’t ignore it. It is a gift. Every day is a gift. I find that when I go outside each day, I tend to keep perspective about how amazing each day is, and it also helps me continue the process of being healthy. Because being outside and feeling amazing is the reward that keeps on giving. In fact, when our family is at the beach, the sunset is the greatest show around. It never gets old, it’s always beautiful and it’s a gift that we can enjoy together every single day. Don’t waste the moments that are soooo worth savoring.
No TV or electronics 1 hour before bed. This is a very important one. Feeling amazing is about feeling centered and in control. Feeling that you have power over your day and your life. Sometimes, that means taking time to just be. Nothing else. Talk with your spouse, play with your kids, start your bedtime routine (more below). Take time away from electronics and your favorite TV shows to just be… quiet. For me, the no electronics rule also helps me fall asleep more easily so it’s a win-win.
Workout daily. You are probably surprised that this is so low on the list. It’s because of this: what you put into your body is sooooo much more important than working out everyday. Getting exercise is certainly a huge, added bonus, and I highly recommend it. But you can’t feel amazing if you’re eating a chocolate muffin for breakfast on your way to the gym to go on the elliptical for 40 minutes. If you have to choose good food or good workouts, choose good food. I find that, if I’m eating perfectly one week but don’t have time to work out, I totally maintain feeling great and staying within my target “feeling good size,” as long as my eating has stayed on track. If you are working out, that’s awesome. My personal goal each week is to work out 5 times, for at least 40 minutes. Usually, that’s 4 mornings of 1-hour boot camp and 1 morning of running, swimming or riding the bike for 40 minutes.
Drink less or no coffee. Coffee is a hard one for me. But I can still feel pretty amazing if I cut it down to one cup, done my healthy way. That means I use coconut milk and coconut sugar instead of my Splenda and fat-free half & half. Of course, I’d prefer to cut coffee out completely, but I’m just not there. Do what you can.
Stretch, drink chamomile tea and read or do devotions before bed. At least that’s my preferred bedtime routine. Come up with a relaxing bedtime routine that rewards your body for working hard all day. This challenge should make you feel good, not like punishment. Before bed, take a hot shower. Stretch your sore legs. Put lotion on your feet. Light a candle. Hand the lotion to your hubby and ask him to give you a back massage. You deserve it. Take the time to do things that feel good and reward you for working hard and making good choices all day long. I know there are lots of things competing for your attention in that last 90 minutes before bed. Make the choice to do something for yourself, that calms you and makes you happy. It’s just for 3 days. If you like, go back to the old ways after this, but for 3 days, just do it my way. As an added bonus, I like to read in bed or do devotions while drinking chamomile tea. (I also have a tall glass of ice water next to the tea too.) Do things that make you feel good, that reward you in a clean, positive way. You don’t need wine, Real Housewives or an hour on Facebook. (Trust me, I love all those too.) But for these 3 days, stick to these pure ways of rewarding yourself and just see how you feel.
Drink 1 fresh-pressed juice per day. My friend recently told me that she went to her hair stylist and the chick looked amazing. Glowing skin, super fit, full of energy. What are you doing differently? my friend asked (with her jaw on the floor). I’m juicing for every meal. Even though I’m not juicing for every meal, but the glowing skin thing was enough for me to hop back on the juicing bandwagon. I try to juice for 1 of my 5 meals per day. Usually it’s my pre-breakfast meal (when I get home from boot camp at 7am) or my post-lunch meal (around 1pm). Whenever it works for you, try to drink a fresh-pressed juice at least once a day. It’s a vitamin blast that gives you the best clean, pure energy there is. This is going to sound weird, but the best way I can describe it is: it’s like feeling “buzzed,” but in a way that you are more alive and aware than you’ve ever been. If you don’t have a juicer, ask around and see if you have a friend or coworker you can borrow from, to try it out. (That’s how I started.) Juice once per day, and I promise you will feel amazing, clean, light and full of energy. If you’re not sure about juicing or want to learn more, I highly suggest watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Don’t be put off by the morbid title. The title is actually very misleading because the documentary is extremely positive, uplifting and motivating. In fact, it was so life-changing for me that I posted it on my Facebook page and hoped all my friends would watch it. Watch it and be inspired and reminded of the amazingness that you can feel when you eat/drink/juice veggies all the time.
Nothing I’ve written today is rocket science. It’s all about being clean, green and disciplined. Sleep well, drink water and eat lots of vegetables. That is the way to feeling amazing and living a grateful, purposeful life. In the last year, I’ve discovered this way of living, and it has completely changed my life. I will never, ever go back. And I wish the same for you, in the deepest way you can imagine. Because I know how amazing you can feel. I know how clean you can feel. I know how alive you can feel. I know how grateful-for-every-healthy-second-of-the-day you can feel. And all it takes is these simple, small choices. For 3 days. So can you do it? Do it! (Honestly, I splurge almost every weekend, so pretty much every Monday, I’m starting the 3-Day Feel Amazing challenge. Trust me, it works.)
You have nothing to lose. And everything, your whole life to gain. Your happiness. Feeling worthy. Remembering that you are amazing. That you are valuable and interesting and soooo very perfectly made. Go get it, girl.
And please let me know on Facebook, how it’s going. Because I care. And I’m soooo excited for you.
Feel Amazing. Because you soooo are.