Discover the secrets of top holistic health experts that could save your life.
Creating and following different health habits can add up to one big solution, which in the long term may just save your life. Discover how making small changes in your everyday life can mean you'll definitely live a happier, longer one.
1. Watch your weight (especially during pregnancy)
"For most people, pregnancy is not an easy ride to the finish line," says Eryn Leslight, founder of Mummy Physiques. "Feeling sluggish, sick, sore, swollen and tired are just some of the common feelings pregnant women go through. Exercise could be the answer to combat these symptoms by improving muscle tone, strength and endurance, helping you to carry the weight gain ofyour baby (and make sure you're not putting any unhealthy kilos during your pregnancy), and to prepare you for the physical stress of labour. Keeping active will really help with your focus and determination during that tough time. Think of it as months of training for a marathon! Regular exercise will also help you bounce back to your pre baby weight (and fit back into your favourite pair of jeans) after your baby is born, as well as strengthening your heart and lungs, so you don't get tired as easily. More energy is just what women need while we are pregnant - even more so once the little bundle of joy arrives!” Note: Check in with your doctor or midwife first for their expert opinion before starting any type of exercise program. For many women if you have exercised regularly prior to falling pregnant you shouldn't have any problems, but it's always a good idea to get a medical opinion.
2. Make fitness a priority
Health and wellness expert Ali Cavill says, "Find your excitement or passion and follow it to create the life you want. Above all, listen to YOUR body: after all, it knows YOU best. Ease into a light workout on those low energy days. You’ll feel better for any form of exercise, no matter how gentle. Aim to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of rigorous physical activity five times a week and at least 30 minutes of light or ‘incidental' activity each day. Incidental exercise is any activity built up in small amounts over the day, even if it's taking the stairs, walking from the bus stop, vacuuming the house, walking the dog or riding your bike to the shops. It all counts to your daily total!”
3. Switch up your workouts
“When it's cold or the weather is bad, do another type of exercise,” adds Cavill. “Not only will it keep you motivated and interested, it’s a great way to meet new people and find new workout buddies! Check out your local community pages for exercise groups, fun fitness activities such as bush walking or fun runs or sign up with a team for the winter.”
4. Work out with a friend
“Find a training buddy to exercise with at least once a week,” says Cavill. “You can keep each other motivated during the workout. Being accountable to not just yourself will motivate you to continue you on your fitness journey, and may give you new exercise ideas you hadn’t thought of before. In addition, when working out with a friend the intensity of your workout is likely to be harder!”
5. Schedule downtime
“Time slots get allocated to work, meetings and appointments, so why not schedule downtime on your calendar too?” says Cavill. “For example, you could schedule downtime every Friday night or Sunday afternoon. Imagine knowing that you have uncancellable scheduled leisure time from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. every Sunday. You could go to the movies, take a scenic drive, play golf, walk on the beach, or spend time with a close friend. People who intentionally schedule downtime report feeling more relaxed during the working week. It's almost important to eliminate time thieves. Unproductive activities can drain your time so commit to your schedule and reduce those negative stress factors.”
6. Go to bed
“Sleep is the best meditation!” says Cavill. “Sleep is a physiological essential, absolutely necessary for good health, and is recommended at more than six hours a night. This allows the body to refuel its mental and physical stores and rejuvenate your emotional capacity.”
7. Take a risk
Challenge yourself to take a risk each day, something that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Risk is an inherent part of living a satisfying life. Commit to a half marathon or fun run, sign up for an eight-week fitness challenge, eliminate sugar from your diet, abseil down a mountain!
8. Breathe your way to calm
Spend a few minutes each day to stretch out, relax and breathe. Try to clear your mind and allow any negative thoughts to drift away.
9. Nourish yourself
Eat right and nourish your body with good food: By focusing on eating well you can stabilise your mood, improve your focus, and boost your brain health, and manage your weight. Food is directly linked to your capacity to focus, think and plan, and is also critically involved in emotional regulation.
10. Work out on the way to work
Building exercise into your daily commute can provide that ‘me-time’ your body desperately craves. Leave your car at home and cycle to work. Get off the bus or train one stop early and walk. Take the stairs.
11. Take care of your skin
Dr Jodie Silleri, cosmetic physician at enRich Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centre, says, “Slip-slop-slap can save your skin - which may save your life. The sun’s harsh rays not only cause premature ageing, but also substantially increase your risk of skin cancer. Australians have the highest rate of skin cancer and melanoma worldwide, affecting both the young and old. Protect yourself from lines, wrinkles, or worse. Apply SPF 50+ sunscreen regularly, avoid sun baking or prolonged sun exposure, and don’t forget protective clothing and eye wear.
12. Don't rub and scratch
Dry or itchy skin or eczema will only be made worse by rubbing and scratching your eczema. Instead, apply a cold washer or water spray, or a non-irritating moisturiser, or even a topical steroid treatment as advised by your doctor. Be sensible. Rubbing and scratching will simply prolong the scratch-itch cycle, causing more inflammation and increasing your discomfort.
13. Go nude when exercising
“Wearing your make-up to gym is simply a bad idea,” explains Silleri. “Make-up will mix with sweat while you exercise to block skin follicles and cause congestion and acne. If you are feeling very self-conscious, then consider a tinted moisturiser or sunblock as an alternative. And don’t forget to wipe away your sweat while exercising. Sweating in its own right, whether you are wearing make-up or not, can cause congestion and acne. Keep a towel on hand at the gym and wipe away your sweat as your exercise to keep your skin free from pimples. Shower immediately afterwards to freshen up and protect your skin. And unless you want warts and tinea on your feet, invest in a pair of rubber thongs when using gym showers to keep your skin free of viruses and fungus!”
14. Don’t over-exfoliate
“Too much exfoliation can leave your skin feeling a little raw,” adds Silleri. “Be kind to your skin. If we inflame skin too much through repeated treatments that traumatise it, we will do more damage than good. Excessive inflammation can cause worsening of pigmentation and blood vessel formation. Protect your skin by avoiding using too many acidic products, which inherently dry out skin. The skin will not appear rejuvenated, but inflamed and scaly. When it comes to exfoliation, less is definitely more.”
15. Take it off
Sleeping in make-up is a recipe for disaster for your skin. Congestion and acne are the likely outcomes, and so the vicious cycle begins, causing you to wear more make-up which makes the problem worse. Sleeping in make-up will also promote milia, tiny hard balls of keratin that look like acne and need to be manually extracted. It takes less than three minutes to remove make-up properly at night. Make this an essential part of your daily skin care routine.”
16. Be aware of oral health
“Oral health affects almost all aspects of your overall health, especially cardiovascular disease and diabetes - two of the biggest killers in developed countries,” says Mystica Linforth, founder of Essential Oxygen. “Make sure to brush often, especially first thing in the morning when toxins have gathered in your mouth overnight. Don't poison yourself with toxic toothpaste. Make sure yours is microbead- and toxin-free. Check the label to ensure that your toothpaste is certified organic, doesn't contain GMOs, toxins or harmful chemicals like sodium lauryl sulphate, chlorine bleach, pesticides, fluoride, glycerin, or alcohol, or abrasives (besides being horrible for the environment, microbeads and other abrasives are bad for your health). And also check the company doesn't test on animals.”
17. Hydrate yourself
"Anyone who has ever suffered from any health ailment knows just how much the problem can ruin a day, week or even a year," says Justyna Kalka, a nutritionist for Zak Australia. "Unaddressed health imbalances can lead to disease - just like that, the ease of your life is compromised. Our bodies are mostly water - in fact, around 60 percent water! Every cell in the body needs water for proper functioning. Chronic dehydration has been linked to so many common diseases that cripple society today. The risk of obesity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes all increase in states of chronic dehydration.”
18. Greens for life
“Chlorophyll is the green found in all greens, an immensely powerful detoxifier and blood builder, increasing oxygenation in the body,” adds Kalka. “Tissues and organs thrive, stay healthy and supple in high-oxygen conditions. Green plant food is Mother Nature’s pharmacy. Eating greens everyday will help keep your body nourished and disease-free.”
19. Eat good fats
“The common belief is that low fat is healthy - but the opposite is actually true,” says Kalka. “Our bodies are designed in a way that relies on dietary intake of quality fats to stay in optimal health. Your hormonal and mental health, clarity of thought, memory, brain structure and function rely on your intake of essential fats. Fish and seafood, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, eggs, coconut products, olive oil are all healthful sources.”
20. Have a Zen moment
"Maintain your spiritual health by scheduling in a daily moment to ground, connect, and be fully in your power," says Rachel Holm, founder of Hanako Therapies. "An easy way for calming and stabilising is to stand with the feet hip-width apart. Taking long steady breaths, gently pull up through the knee caps, squeeze the thighs, and tuck the tail bone under. Lift up through the spine and the crown of the head and drop the shoulders down and back, rest your energy in the heart space and breathe here for a few moments. Once you feel calm and expanded, gently open your eyes and smile."
21. Use coconut oil
"For anyone wanting to naturally increase metabolism and burn fat, I highly recommend coconut oil," says trainer Luke Hines. "It's wonderful for baking, frying, salads and smoothies, plus it is packed full of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are an incredible energy source for the body, helping you lose weight, feel great and perform to your best."
22. Change your mindset
"When someone is suffering from pain, there can be many associated thoughts and feelings, often negative," says osteopath Nick Efthimiou. "Mindfulness is one method of dealing with these and being able to continue living a fulfilling life. Mindfulness can be simply described as the practice of paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgemental manner – that embraces everything about that moment, from your thoughts and feelings to body sensations, all the way to what is going on around you in your environment. Anecdotal and published research reports both suggest mindfulness to be a good strategy to help with pain."
23. Roll on
"Using a foam roller on a regular basis is an effective way to maintain your tissues, improve body awareness, and build a solid foundation for a healthy active life," says physiotherapist Dan O'Grady. “Just like brushing your teeth, it works best if you do it regularly, for a few minutes every day.”
24. Flex your quads and hips
“Most of us tighten up during the day in the front of our bodies, due to sitting, driving, walking, so spend a minute rolling the foam roller along the front of your legs,” advises O'Grady. “Keep the pressure medium as you don’t want to trigger off a fight/flight response by rolling too intensely. Remember to breathe. Hold any particularly tight spots until you feel them release.”
25. Relax your upper back
“Excessive sitting and driving can lead to chronic stiffness in the thoracic spine,” adds O'Grady. “Roll the roller along the upper back, from the lower shoulder blade to upper shoulder blade. Lift your hips off the mat while keeping your head supported with your hands. You may feel a release and some cracks in your back (this is a good thing!). Continue for one minute. Then, bring your hips down to the mat, gently arch over the foam roller, and take a few deep breaths.”
26. Don't forget your ITBs
A well known 'hot spot' for runners, walkers and cyclists, when the iliotibial bands (ITBs) get tight, you will feel pain in your knees and hips. O'Grady believes almost everyone can benefit from rolling here. “But go easy on yourself, the pain shouldn't be more than 5/10,” he warns. “Lie on your side with the roller midway up your thigh. Support your body weight on your other foot and hands. Roll up and down the outer thigh, taking care not to go too high or low.”
27. Know your nutrition
"Avoid processed foods," says nutritionist Pip Reed. "Anything that comes in a packet and contains vegetable oil, processed flour, added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients will be toxic for the body can cause inflammation, which leads to illness and/or disease. Decrease your alcohol consumption - one glass of red wine a night can have some health benefits, but any more causes problems for mood, hormones, liver and weight, as well as inflammation."
28. Be mindfully active
"Focus on how your body moves," adds Reed. "Be present in the moment and avoid risks like looking at your phone while crossing the road, or potential injuries from not paying attention to your surroundings, where you are walking or running. Being mindful and present also decreases anxiety; when focused on the now, you are less likely to stress about future events.”
29. Eat a rainbow a day
"Most of the colours in our diet come from fruit and vegetables," says dietitian and sports nutritionist Robbie Clark. "Each colour carries its own set of unique disease-fighting chemicals called phytochemicals. In addition to these phytochemicals, fruit and vegetables are jam-packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre, which all help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, bowel disease and type 2 diabetes, to name a few.” Clark adds that it's also important to take your time to eat your food slowly and be mindful when dining. “I see a lot of clients with gut issues and the way they eat has a lot to do with it,” she explains. “We are living in an age where everything has become fast-paced or we have developed FOMO (fear of missing out). This changes our eating habits and causes us to eat faster, chew less and swallow more while washing it down quickly with some type of liquid. We should be more mindful about not only the type of food we put into our mouths but HOW we eat as well. By slowing down and focusing on your meals, you may experience less bloating, gas and cramping, and more regular bowel habits. A happy tummy equals a happy life."
30. Sit less
"Many of us sit for hours at a time at work, at home or commuting," says Clark. "Plus, continual advances in technology contribute to us doing less manual labour and active tasks. Sitting is the new smoking, and for good reason. Sitting down for too long can lead to weight gain, poor muscle tone and posture, osteoporosis, and increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease." Clark's top tips for moving more? “Stand while talking on the phone. If you work at your desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk station. Have meetings with colleagues while walking. Get up and move around the office. And stretch every hour.”
Meet our experts
Eryn Leslight is the founder of Mummy Physiques, specialising in women's fitness. @mummyphysiques
Health and wellness expert Ali Cavill works at Fit Fantastic. www.facebook.com/fitfantastic
Dr Jodie Silleri is cosmetic physician, enRich Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Centre. www.mrich.com.au
Mystica Linforth is the founder of Essential Oxygen. www.essentialoxygen.com
Justyna Kalka is a Zak Australia nutritionist. www.zakau.com.au
Rachel Holm is founder of Hanako Therapies and an energetic healer. www.hanakotherapies.com
Luke Hines is the CEO of The Paleo Way. www.trainerluke.com
Nick Efthimiou is an osteopath and personal trainer at Integrative Osteopathy. www.integrativeosteopathy.com.au
Dan O'Grady is a physiotherapist at Kinfolk Wellness. www.kinfolkwellness.com.au
Pip Reed is a nutritionist, personal trainer, Yoga-Fit instructor, and director and co-founder of online nutrition clinic, The Health Clinic. www.TheHealthClinic.com.au
Dietitian and sports nutritionist Robbie Clark is co-founder of online nutrition clinic, The Health Clinic. www.robbieclarknutrition.com