Editor’s Note: This feature is part of The Inertia‘s Health and Wellness Spotlight, an initiative that explores emerging trends in nutrition, diet, and fitness in surf and outdoor culture. We’ll be releasing a feature each day this week with your health in mind, so check back here daily. Unequivocally, excellent health enables more time to fully enjoy the ocean and outdoors. This initiative is powered by our friends at Vivobarefoot. Check out The Inertia’s 2019 Health and Wellness Product Guide here.
Our health is everything. Duh. If we don’t have it, well…we don’t really have much. We can’t play outside, play with our kids, or really do much other than feel sorry for ourselves. Here’s the thing, good health doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, to me, that’s the most annoying part of this whole health movement: spend lots of money, partake in an elaborate combo of box jumps while downing milkshake-like drinks you’ve never heard of and then measure–yourself in pounds and your food in ounces. So lame.
It’s not that damn complicated. I’m admittedly, no expert. But skin issues have forced me to explore diets more closely and I’m married to a foodie (that part’s rad). Eat well 90 percent of the time (fruits, vegetables, quality meat, no gluten for me). Easy on the alcohol (easier said than done), and exercise. So let’s streamline it as we wind down our 2019 Health Spotlight. Here are five simple things you can do to be healthier. Not hard. Easy.
Sleep 7 Hours
So simple. Even though I find this one difficult. You too, maybe? I like to read about the world late at night because I’m stuck in the working world during the day. But if we can get seven hours of sleep each night, our lives will be immeasurably better. We can heal those nagging winter colds (sleep boosts our immune system), help our muscular system recover from long work days (or workouts) and avoid getting sick in the first place. Let me help you visualize: lack of sleep is basically like handing your immune system an M80 and watching it blow up. There’s nothing left to fight disease. Plus sleep fights Type 2 diabetes by lowering glucose levels and preventing obesity (a lack of sleep messes with your hormones and thus your resistance to eating unhealthy foods). Get in your bed at night.
Play at Least 3 Times a Week
If you’re an Inertia reader, you probably don’t need to worry about it. But a reminder: get out and ski, snowboard, surf, skate, whatever you love to do, three times a week. And one of those sessions (at least) should see you absolutely sweat your ass off. Sweating helps us rid our bodies of toxins like nothing else–the ones left over from the cheap beer and tacos we stuff our faces with. Sweat is a way to purge bad stuff (no, seriously, it’s backed by science)– and it cleans out our lungs. That’s why, if you’re looking at short period wind swell, considering not paddling out, just go. Continuously paddling and duck diving in those conditions is really good for you. Love to splitboard or ski in the backcountry? You’re healthier for doing it. If you’re looking for a new way to get your sweat on, check out the mountain bike options on Craigslist. Find a hard-tail bike you can use on the street or easy trails, stick your headphones on and just go for a climb. Or maybe try commuting to work on your bike. You don’t even need to get gnarly. Just sweat.
Finish Eating Earlier
More and more studies are coming out that show how damaging it is to our bodies to eat later in the evening or at night. Our metabolism is just so much slower as we sleep and it’s harder on our bodies to try to digest food overnight. As mentioned, fruits, veggies, and meats that haven’t been processed are good for us, but before you even try concentrating on what you eat, do an experiment and work on when you eat. For two weeks, try finishing your meals by 6:30 p.m. Don’t eat anything after 6:30. Instead, drink water. You can still enjoy a lot of the things you love but you’ll be blown away how much more your digestion system likes you. That way, you’re trying intermittent fasting without really, well, trying. If you don’t notice a difference in the way you feel, yell and call me names in the comments below.
Find a Partner
Think of it as free motivation. Or for some of us, free therapy. Who’s your bestie? Your motivation partner? Peer pressure works in wonderful ways, so use it as motivation to get out by having a partner on speed dial to call up, or who’ll call you out if you try to bail. All of us get that lazy bone stuck in our teeth once in a while. Friends who motivate are awesome. Plus, it’s proven that working out with a friend or group helps us release even more endorphins than we already do when exercising, making us feel extra awesome (check out this study). Essential.
If you’re living somewhere new, don’t be above trying an app: Strava is an incredible program for motivation. These Facebook-like formats where your “friends” or network post GPS-measured times of certain routes that include walks, runs, paddles, bike rides, or whatever, can motivate us to go harder and sweat more. Which is a good thing (see above).
Water is essential to everything we do. Digestion, a strong immune system, even the health of our teeth. As Dr. Eric Goodman wrote for us earlier this week, if your body is trained to live in a dehydrated state, that’s exactly what it’ll do. But your health will suffer. Fail to intake enough water and you’ll start to see things like blood pressure issues and digestive meltdown. Sometimes I find I drink more water by switching up the device I’m using to drink it. I’ll find a good water bottle and go with it. Then I’ll need motivation so I’ll permanently borrow one of those fancy glass bottles from a restaurant to use as my new container, just to get some variety in how I down H2O. Lately, I’ve been into those 32-ounce glass mason jars. We’re supposed to drink 64 ounces of water a day (that’s tough). So if I can get two of those down (rare) I’m feeling like a rock star. Any way you can get hydrated is good. If it means splurging on a new water bottle once in a while, do it.