Walk....sounds simple, right? You would think. However many of us spend way too much time at a desk and in our cars. Do you think you get plenty of exercise in your day? Here is an easy way to see where you are now and also to measure your improvement.
Pick up an expensive pedometer (you can get one at any drugstore) and track your steps. See how many steps you are currently taking on a regular day, and then make steps to increase. It is recommended that people get 10,000 steps a day, which is the equivalent to walking 5 miles. If you don’t have a regular exercise routine and your job doesn’t require you to walk much, you may be surprised at how few steps you take during a day.
When I first gave a pedometer a try, I was shocked to find that on an average day I would take only 2,000-3,000 steps a day. If you find that your daily activity leaves you lacking in steps, make small changes to add steps.
-Find a parking space farther away from your destination.
-Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
-If you have a choice in bathrooms, use the one that’s furthest away.
-Find times to take small walks; such as during your work break, during lunch, after dinner.
-Instead of meeting a friend for a drink, meet them for a walk.
-If you golf, skip the cart and walk the course.
-Do you have to drive everywhere? Are some things really in walking distance?
-Pace while you’re on the phone.
Because we tend to be competitive beings, you may find that just because you are wearing the pedometer, you easily make choices to walk more…because the steps are being tracked and your ego simply wants a better score. Find a friend, family member or co-work and make things interesting with a little friendly competition. Maybe the person who walks the least buys a cup of tea for the other?
These small changes will start to add up. But remember - if you are currently only getting 3,000 steps your goal for tomorrow isn’t 10,000!!! It’s something like 3,500. Making small incremental changes is the best way to create lasting change. Then you keep making more changes and more changes…slowly. Soon you will notice you feel better and one day you will be shocked to see that you are much closer/at/or over 10,000 steps.
There is nothing wrong with building your activity level baby-step after baby-step…it’s actually the most successful way to do it!!
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Yet another post in my blog series to inspire small steps toward holistic wellness....because large, grandiose changes rarely stick. For long lasting change, baby steps are the way to go. So today let's talk about a way to decrease some of the toxins in our lives.
Awhile back, I wrote a blog post about natural cleaners, because I believe this is another easy way to detox our lives. The cleaners we often clean our homes with are nothing more than toxic chemicals. Sure they kill bacterial and viruses and make the house smell nice, but what we are really doing is filling our homes with toxins.
Now, I’m not saying to toss all your cleaners today. Start with this….remove all cleaning products from your KITCHEN. Get an inexpensive spray bottle and fill it with white vinegar. This is an inexpensive and much healthier option. (If you need an abrasive cleaner, us a sprinkle of baking soda.)
The kitchen is that last place you want to use store-bought cleaners. While spraying the cleaners around the kitchen, you are not only breathing in those chemicals, you are also contaminating counters, cutting boards and ultimately, your food. Who wants that?
Now, if you are like most people, you are worried about the smell of vinegar. Yes, it is likely to remind you of coloring Easter eggs. However, as soon as the vinegar dries, the smell is gone and you are left with the clean smell of…nothing.
If you don’t like the smell of nothing, dab a little lemon juice or a good essential oil on a rag or paper towel and wipe it around on your counter or the sink faucet. Just be sure that whatever oil you use is suitable for ingestion (many aren’t). Another option to freshen the room is simply to create a potpourri pan on your stove. All you need is a small pan of water and some smell good items such as an orange slice, cloves & cinnamon or lemon & rosemary. Let your spice rack scent the kitchen!
Making this one small change, will decrease toxins in your home and therefore from your body as well…taking you one more step in the direction of holistic wellness!
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My second post in this series of simple steps toward Holistic Wellness, is about meditation. I have written on the topic of meditation before, and I note there is always a lot of interest in the topic…but little follow-through. I feel this is often because of two things – people over complicate the concept of meditation and people underestimate the benefits of meditation.
When I talk of Holistic Wellness, I’m talking about living a balanced life. I often use this graphic to explain the four main areas of self and what they entail. It is not all inclusive, but should give you an idea of what I mean.
Now here is that same graphic, but it lists benefits of meditation.
I created this to show people how this one small action can impact every aspect of self.
I hear many meditation gurus say that you must meditation for 30 minutes, twice a day for it to be effective. While others, including myself, know this is untrue. In a perfect world, yes...an hour a day of meditation would be fabulous. And maybe one day, you can work up to that amount. But for a beginner, that is just completely overwhelming. Who has that kind of time? And if you are new to meditation, 30 minutes is just too much. In reality, just 5 minutes… or 3 minutes…even 1 minute is a great place to start and will be beneficial. In fact, I always recommend starting very slow. You can always meditate longer if it’s feeling good and you find yourself enjoying time in the gap…but you shouldn’t feel bad about only meditating for 2 minutes either.
So let’s talk about meditation. You don’t have to sit cross legged in a special meditation space (although you can if you want to). You can meditate in a dining room chair, in your car, at your desk, lying on the floor, on the toilet (for some people that’s the only place they can find peace and quiet)! You can even meditate while walking, hula hooping, eating or doing the dishes.
The simplest definition for meditation I have found is “mindfulness”. You can turn any activity into a meditation by simply being completely present. While you are washing a dish, focus completely on what you are doing. The temperature of the water, the way the dish soap smells, the texture of the dish cloth, the feel of the water running over your hands as you rinse the dish, the clang as dishes touch each other. Taking moments to be completely present in what we are doing is a great first step in meditation.
If you want something a little more formal, find a quiet area…sit in a comfortable chair with your legs uncrossed and your spine straight. Place your hands comfortably on your lap. Close your eyes and take a couple deep relaxing breaths, exhaling with a sigh. This will help you release tension from your body. As you breathe normally, simply focus on your breath. Feel the air on the space between your nose and your lips, feel the breath in you nostrils and on the back of your throat, feel your chest extend and contract, hear the sound of you breathing…focus completely on the breath. When your mind wanders (and it will, because minds are made for thoughts), just let the thoughts float away and bring your attention back on the breath. Do this for as long as you desire. When you are done, take a nice deep, cleansing breath in…you may want to reach your hands over your head for a gentle stretch…then slowly exhale as lower your arms and slowly open your eyes and bring yourself back to reality.
It’s not difficult, and it’s worth every moment. How can you be more mindful during your day?
Give meditation a try, and let me know about your experiences!
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.