Sarah Holgen MS, CNS
No budget?! No problem. 6 FREE ways to improve your health.
It seems like everywhere I turn theres another health and wellness product that I "won't be able to live without!" - As someone who understands that not everyone has extra dolla' bills to spare, or who is working more than 1 job just to stay afloat, I knew that I wasn't alone in wishing there were more low-cost to NO-COST ways to improve our health, without the fancy health foods. Keepin' it classic, if you will...
The truth is, a lot of the privileged wellness community can afford these specialty superfood items and it helps them continue their goal of living a health and wellness based lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, I looooooove me a certified organic non-irradiated matcha latte with foamed non-carrageenan oat milk, sweetened with fair-trade non-gmo monkfruit crystals and topped with organic rainforest alliance certified vanilla coconut whipped cream, but... Lets be honest, not everyone trying to get healthier can afford these tasty health foods on the regular.
The absolute truth is that when we do the free health-stuff first (called lifestyle medicine), like getting enough sleep or drinking enough water, we are already making changes to our health that are far superior than any health supplement or green concoction can accomplish.
LET'S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS. FREE STUFF.
I think its important for everyone to work on this list first, before supplements, before fancy wellness products, before medication and surgery. These are the basics of what your body needs to thrive! And if you have a few bucks to spare after rent, go get yourself that fancy organic chocolate, or whatever makes you happy.
6 Ways to improve your health, FOR FREE:
1. Get enough sleep
Sleep is when you heal. Sleep is when your body restores and rebalances its hormones. Sleep is necessary to reset your brain and gut which can optimize digestion and much more. Sleep also helps you cancel out stress and lose weight! Getting at least 8 hours a night is crucial to a healthy body and mind. Make sleep a priority and it can help you lose weight, feel more refreshed, help you handle stress better and provide necessary healing and recovery time for your body. I feel the best when I get 9 hours of sleep, you heard me, nine hours! It made such a big improvement in my mood and energy the entire rest of the day!
2. Drink adequate water
Swap out sugary sodas, energy drinks and fruit juices for ice-cold, clean, refreshing water. Not only is it cheaper, its also saving you a ton of liquid calories that are not burned for energy but are almost always stored as fat. Not only is water a good replacement for soda, but staying hydrated throughout the day helps with digestion and sleep that night. Being dehydrated at night can prevent good sleep, so drinking water throughout the day can not only help with weight loss but also better sleep and energy! Aim for at least 60 oz per day, more if you are exercising.
3. Fasting and intermittent fasting
Literally, free. You actually save money, time, energy, a lot of things when you fast. Not eating - free. Not having to spend time eating - more time. Not having to cook or clean up after those meals - much more time and less energy spent. Fasting is the purposeful omission of food for a specific time period. The benefits are endless and I highly encourage you to research fasting for its benefits on energy, weight loss, sleep, hormones, blood sugar and insulin issues like diabetes, joint pain and inflammation and much more. (I will have some juicy full-length articles on fasting coming up!)
General intermittent fasting recommendation for all: Try fasting for 12 hours every night and limiting your eating window to 12 hours during the day. For example, eating from 7am to 7pm and not eating anything after 7pm except for water. We do not have a lot of digestive fire at night and this means that those large dinners or big snacks late at night are not digested properly leading to fatigue, poor digestion and weight gain.
Water fasting (no food only water): This is true fasting and I would recommend trying one, 24 hour fast a few times a month, or trying one, 3-5 day fast every month or two. When we completely omit food, your body turns on fat-burning, recycling mode where it is now able to get rid of fat, waste build up, dead cells and kill cancer cells too!
4. Stop eating dairy products
When you stop buying dairy products not only are you saving money, you are also removing a common inflammatory food. Many pasteurized dairy products like milk, cheese and cheese spreads can trigger weight gain, imbalanced hormones and poor digestion. Anytime we mess with our gut, we mess with the entire body! Giving your gut a break from dairy can help heal skin conditions, help with weight loss, improve sleep, improve joint pain and decrease general inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the number 1 cause of almost all chronic diseases that exist.
5. Get moving every single day
Im not talking just about exercising at a gym, Im talking about movement in general. Ask yourself, have I moved besides going back and forth to my car/work/house? Something as simple as walking or even dancing every day (its free!) stimulates your lymphatic system which is where the garbage men of your body live. Movement helps your lymphatic system clear your body of toxins, help your immune system work better and promotes nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to travel to every cell in your body. Regular exercise or physical movement is also a great stress relief, can help you sleep better, improve anxiety and depression and is a great addition to any weight loss goal.
6. Filter your friends
Did I seriously just ask you to re-evaluate your friends? Yes, yes I did. I suggest keeping friends in your life ONLY IF THEY WANT WHATS BEST FOR YOU!!! Why would we want to cling to people who don't want to see us shine and thrive!
For example, your friend Tasha likes to do food-based hang outs. If she wants to go to KFC, 7-11 or Coldstone creamery every time you hang together, then maybe suggest a healthier option instead like walking on the beach/in the park, getting your nails done, get crafty with a DIY project or going on a scenic hike! If she knows you want to get healthier but isn't supportive of your goals, it might be better for your growth as a human being to hang-out less frequently with her. After all, you are in charge of your destiny and you are in full control of who and what is in your life.
Please leave a comment below on ways you stay healthy for free or on a low budget :)
You are loved. In good health,
Sarah Holgen MS, CNS.