#1 Eat the Right Foods at the Right Times for the Right Reasons
What are the "right foods"? Well, that depends. For me, I've found that a diet of anti-inflammatory, low toxin, all natural foods help me feel and perform my best. So, I eat a LOT organic veggies and a LOT of good quality fats, a moderate amount of high quality proteins, and a very small amount of starchy carbs, like sweet potatoes (I also get carbs from the other vegetables I eat). I go for whole, real foods in their natural state and try to eat seasonally. I stay away from things that inflame my system, like grains (especially wheat), sugars, processed foods, industrial seed oils, most dairy, farmed seafood, genetically engineered "Frankenfoods", etc.
When is the "right time"? Personally, I generally eat in the afternoon and evening, usually from 2pm - 8pm. In the mornings I start my day with a healthy dose of good fats in the form of a Bulletproof Coffee and avoid anything that will potentially spike my insulin and cause my body to start storing fat, such as the typical Standard American Diet breakfast foods of cereal, muffins, waffles, etc. These types of foods just set me up to be hungry the rest of the day, plus they don't provide my body and brain with the proper fuel it needs to perform optimally - a perfect recipe for weight gain. The right time of day might be different for you. Experiment till you find what works for you.
What are the "right reasons"? Well, this is going to sound so silly simple but it's something that took me most of my adult life to finally figure out and have it really sink in - eat when I'm naturally hungry, don't eat when I'm not. Duh! Eating the way I do now (see first paragraph), has effortlessly removed the "death grip" food has had over me my entire life. I'm a foodie, food blogger and private chef because I freaking LOVE food. But, it's always been a love/hate relationship. At its worst - obsessive, compulsive, addictive. At its best - blissfully happy and completely sated. It's incredibly freeing to eat the way I do now - based on necessity, instead of desire - the way I imagine our ancestors must have done.
#2 Get Good Sleep
Sounds easy, but can be hard to do. Further, I'm not always as successful at it as I'd like to be but I make "trying" a high priority. Probably, the thing that works the best for me is having a set routine. For instance, when it gets dark outside I start to look forward to laying down on a cozy bed in a (reasonably) dark room and resting my eyes. It's sort of like "Pavlov's dog" and it works. Also, I say "reasonably" dark because I like to keep the blinds open to encourage natural awakening with the sun when it rises in the morning. Yes, I set an alarm, too. Some people find it's best to have a completely, pitch dark room with no noise, though.
I also have other things I do for my nightly routine - like finish dinner early, do the dishes, then watch one of my favorite shows on the DVR. Lastly, I'll take all my vitamins along with my daily dose of collagen, either with or without a probiotic, and sometimes a little raw honey, then I get into bed and usually do a little reading before falling asleep. Do I sound like an old lady yet? I don't care! It works!
For reference, my collagen of choice is Bulletproof Collagen Protein (affiliate link), sourced from 100% grass-fed pasture-raised cows, my probiotic of choice in this instance is Maple Hill Creamery 100% Grass-Fed Plain Yogurt and my honey of choice is whatever is local and raw. I mix them all together and eat. Or I just have one of these: Bulletproof Vanilla Collagen Bar (affiliate link). I've found that having a small amount of good carbs in the evening helps me to sleep better, deeper, more restoratively.
#3 Get Physical Every Day
Take every opportunity you can to move around, lift heavy things, squat, flex, stand, stretch, etc. You can do pretty much all of these things throughout the day, even while you're at your desk at work. When you're not at work, get outside for fresh air and a walk, or even run if you like. I love to run. Even when I didn't feel like I was particularly good at it, it was still fun to just take off like a 5 year old as fast as I could till I ran out of breath. You can also go to the gym, pilates studio, do yoga on the beach, walk to the post office to mail something - seriously, there are endless ways to get moving. It's good for the body and for the mind.
My favorite workouts are running, including racing 5ks, 10ks and half marathons and Lagree Fitness pilates (I'm also a certified Lagree Fitness instructor). Ask me about my pre and post workout stacks (I'm always tweaking them)! You might be surprised to learn that I include nootropics by Natural Stacks in my pre-workout stack. More on that in a future post.
Lastly, please check out this infographic from Nuts.com with 5 Easy Tips, this handy list of suggestions for healthy snack ideas and be sure to share your tips in the comments: