5 Steps To Living Well

The idea that there is a one size fits all program out there just sets people up to fail. And if you've done any reading on wellness at all you already know that for every article touting the perfect method, there's another one saying the exact opposite! So please don't look at what I've done and assume that I believe it's THE way! Everyone is different, and it's important to keep that in mind. I can only share what is working for me and my specific health needs. My goal is to encourage you to find what works for you, and if you need some help and encouragement along the way, I'm happy to do what I can!

These are my 5 steps to living well.

Steps to health and wellness

 As I've mentioned before, I have a condition called Oral Lichen Planus which means there are some foods I have to avoid so as not to irritate my mouth. So I've spent hours researching what foods are beneficial and what foods I should limit. With that in mind, I've listed the main things I've done that have improved my health and also helped me to lose over 30 lbs, which in turn benefits my health even more. 

1. Taking Nutritional Supplements

This one tops the list. Without supplements, I know I wouldn't have seen the kind of improvements I have. Even if I had no limitations on what I can eat, I know my regular diet was not enough to supply the nutrients my body needs. 

 Not only that, some of the supplements I take are for specific needs and would be impossible to replicate in the kitchen. For example I take a supplement for reducing inflammation that contains glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, manganese and a herbal blend. I also take omega 3s, probiotics and prebiotics. In all, I take 12 different supplements that have been specially formulated to be readily absorbed by my body...which is another important factor. Many vitamin/mineral supplements on the market today just pass right through our digestive system without being absorbed. 

 A few months after I started on these supplements, I was no longer pre-diabetic, and my cholesterol had come down. The proof that they work is not only in my blood work, but in how I feel! 

 I recently went off my supplements for one full week while I had blood work and other tests done, just to make sure my results were accurate. It was quite the learning experience. My OLP flared up so much that my gums were swollen and it hurt to floss my teeth! I've never been so happy to take my supplements as I was at the end of that week!

Nutritional Supplements

 One other way I supplement my diet is with a fiber drink. It not only helps my digestive health, it provides nutrients that help lower cholesterol.

2. Practicing Intermittent Fasting. 

The next thing I did was to stop snacking in the evening and adopt a form of intermittent fasting. The length of time I fast each night varies, but generally, I keep my meals between 10 am and 6 pm...sometimes more, sometimes less. I've never been a big breakfast eater, so this works well for me. When I started this, the key was not so much how long to fast, but to just break the habit of snacking on junk in the evening. It really hasn't been difficult, because I don't have the cravings I had before starting supplements.

3. Finding the right foods. 

This part was the most complicated for me, and at times very confusing. I spent hours researching to come up with a plan that meets my specific health needs. Because hypothyroidism runs in my family, I wanted to find a diet plan that would support thyroid function. I discovered that just because a food is 'healthy' doesn't mean it's good for me. After all, everyone says kale is good for you...even if they don't like it! I was surprised to find that this isn't always the case. Some vegetables can adversely affect my thyroid. These are known as 'goitrous'. Broccoli, cabbage, caulifower, and yes, kale are just a few that should be limited or prepared in such a way as to remove the goitrogens. 

 It took some time, but I  finally came up with a list of foods that are good for my thyroid but also won't cause my OLP to flare up. Some foods I've had to eliminate for OLP are citrus fruits, spices, vinegar, tomatoes and tomato sauces. I also try to avoid soy, and for now, I've reduced my gluten and lactose intake, mainly to see if it helps with my OLP.

This is 'MY' plan for eating well. I have very specific needs that you may not have. But I believe some changes I've made are beneficial for anyone...such as cutting added sugar and sugary foods, quitting junk food such as chips and other empty snacks, and fast foods. I've also added apple cider vinegar and coconut oil to my diet just because I've read so many good things about both! I'll make a separate post of some of my favourite meals!

4. Increasing Physical Activity

And here is the step that I find most difficult. I'm a bit of a couch potato. I really do enjoy walking, whether it's outside or using the Walk at Home videos....once I get going. I just need to make myself get up and get moving! 
Now that summer is here, there's lots of work to be done around the yard, and we have a beautiful forest across the road, so there's no excuse to be sitting around!

5. Reducing Stress

Unfortunately, stress is known to be a trigger for OLP, and often causes flare-ups for people with this condition. Surprisingly, this has not been such a difficult issue in the past several months. It seems that as I've become healthier physically, I've felt less stressed by things that in the past would have been more of an issue. Since there is no way to eliminate stress completely from my life, I need to be mindful of what kinds of situations are triggers and remind myself to relax and realize that worrying and stewing about things don't help. I need to trust that God is in control and just leave my burdens and cares with him. Not always easy, but always best!
Having a support system also helps to reduce stress. I'm fortunate to have my husband joining me on this journey to wellness, so we're able to support each other.
I've also have a group on FaceBook specifically for ladies who are in need of support and accountability. We do not follow a particular program, and we're not just about weight loss or fitness. No matter what your goals are....whether good health, financial stability, a decluttered home, spiritual accountability, or some other personal goal, our purpose is to offer support and encouragement. We also offer helpful resources, articles, website links, and encouraging personal posts. At times we have challenges to help get us motivated and moving, but these are all optional. You can find us at the Christian Ladies Network.

And that's the steps I've taken to living well. 

Of course, this is an ongoing process, but I hope you'll find some value in what I've shared so far, and are able to apply it to your own journey to wellness. I know it can be a challenge to make changes and stick to them, but you CAN succeed.

Read the series: My Wellness Journey

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For women who would like some encouragement or accountability for your own journey, we have a support group: the Christian Ladies Network


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