The journey to cultivating and maintaining wellness truly begins inside. For me, wellness began in 2013 when I was just 19 years old. I was a very stressed college student who was eating, breathing, and sleeping nursing studies. Studying at all hours of the day and night came with the development of some unhealthy habits. Most days I would skip exercise in fear of losing study time, and I was definitely not taking the time to cook healthy meals. By the time that I had reached my second year of nursing school, I had enough with feeling helpless to my stressors. That’s when I decided to take things into my own hands.
As a new year’s resolution, I went to my first yoga class and it changed my life forever. After just one class I found myself breathing deeper, retaining more information when I studied, and craving healthier foods. During this transitional period, I found myself having more energy and a new zest for life. I found new ways to move my body and making healthy versions of my favorite foods became exciting and delicious. Later, I even went on to become a yoga instructor.
I had never really enjoyed eating meat, and actually began a slow transition to a plant-based diet at the age of 10. Contrary to popular belief, vegetarianism is absolutely not synonymous with healthy, and there are many processed unhealthy foods that do not contain animal products. I also don’t believe that there is a “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to dietary intake. Just because eating plant-based works for me, does not mean that it will for you.
When it comes to cultivating positive habits and longevity, I do not believe that the body benefits from “cold-turkey” methods of diet change. As I stated earlier, I transitioned to a plant-based diet over a number of years beginning with eliminating red meats, then poultry, then seafood. This allowed my body to adjust over time, and now I no longer crave any animal products at all.
Here Are My Three Rules of Healthy Living:
Find joy in living healthfully, so you don’t fall into old habits.
Find your favorite way to move your body and do it daily.
It doesn’t have to be long or strenuous, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Set the tone for the day with your morning routine.
I begin my day with 32 ounces of water with lemon, and follow it up with fresh pressed celery juice.
Pro tip: you must press the celery fresh each morning or it will lose its benefits.
If i’m in a hurry and cannot press the celery fresh, I substitute it with some warm water and apple cider vinegar. A teaspoon of honey helps to tone the bitterness down while you’re getting used to the flavor.
Take a moment to breathe.
Meditation isn’t for everyone, and I’m not saying that you need to do some sort of extensive breathwork. All I want you to do is wake up, sit on the side of your bed, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to acknowledge the start of the day. Use this time for positive affirmations. Tell yourself that it will be a great day!
This is the best tip that I have ever received. Someone once told me that we must be thankful for our food, enjoy every bite, and be in the moment with it. This may sound a bit odd, but think about how many times we find ourselves in front of the TV or computer mindlessly shoveling food into our mouths.
Even if your goal isn’t to eat entirely plant based, we can all benefit from decreasing our intake of red meat. Maybe you try saving it for a “treat” once per week and see how you feel?
By eating with intention, I found myself enjoying my food more, and even eating less.
At the end of the day, I believe our happiness is of the utmost importance. I’ve found that the degree of health I feel directly affects how happy I feel.
Live well, eat well, and be well;
Bella Sannasardo, RN, BSN
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