19 (small) ways to change your life and health

SO let me just disclose this by the likes of anyone else who is commenting on things they are not really qualified to talk about:

I am NOT a healthcare professional,
a nurse,
a doctor,
a nutritionist,
a psychologist,
someone who studies human development,
or a dietician.

However, I do lead a healthy active lifestyle that I would like to share my best input on so that you too can lead a healthy active lifestyle, and seeing as we're all at home right now- why not try to incorporate some of these literally minuscule changes into your daily life?!! Most of these you might even already be doing without realizing it. These subtle changes will turn you into a healthier, happier person, and also a better citizen to this planet. With Earth day being earlier this week, I included some parts that will hopefully inform you about points of waste in our daily lives that must be eliminated.

Without further ado, here's some health tips and tricks from a type A person who relies on organization to keep my brain from going into overdrive♡♡♡
I hope you pull something out of this that gives you a sense of control, which is very much needed in a time where everything seems to be spiralling out of control.

1. Use cold water at the end of your shower

So this is one I've been reading a lot of medical articles about. Using a burst of cold water at the end of my showers has been a technique I've used for years to help me feel more alert and awake, and because I read somewhere once a long time ago that it locks in the moisture in your hair strands so you have less breakage. However, I never realized there were actual health benefits to it as well. Research shows that people who shower with cold water are 29% less likely to call in sick for work or school, proving cold water usage to be immune system boosting. I was also reading that using cold water at the end of your shower for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes increases muscle recovery post sports or other exercise. This means that the contrast in temperature from hot to cold speeds up the physical recovery process. 

2. Wake up with the sunrise

So while I'm not really qualified to dispute about most of these things, I feel especially unqualified to talk about sleep patterns, because if you know me my amount of sleep is on average about 5 hours a night. Although I don't sleep a lot, I still tend to wake up early, (It's a curse) so I at least feel like I can rep this point. Waking up with the sunrise is in the human species natural circadian rhythm. We are meant to go to bed when the sun goes down and rise when it does, because our bodies respond to light. Waking up early helps me be more productive throughout the day because I have more daylight hours to consume, makes me feel less groggy and tired even if I haven't slept much, ensures I eat a good breakfast (usually muesli and fruit with some sort of non-dairy milk) and am therefore less hungry throughout the day, and there are less interruptions overall because most of the world is still just getting up. Another thing I like to do is listen to my favourite songs right when I wake up, throughout getting ready, and while I'm drinking my coffee. No matter what kind of day you have before you, nothing can beat taking in the first hours of sunlight with a warm cup of coffee and some bomb music playing. I read an article once from an 80 year old man explaining the 20 best pleasures of life and one of them was listening to your favourite songs in the morning, so that alone convinced me to copy it into my routine and start the day off on the right foot. 

3. COCONUT OIL. I cannot stress this enough.

So coconut oil is kind of my saving grace product. As a pre-teen I went through a phase where I needed to know every natural product that was good for my skin and hair and unsurprisingly, coconut oil has been in my routine since then. To start, it makes your hair so soft and moisturized if you use it as a mask once every couple weeks. Scrunch it in your hair before bed, put a towel on your pillow and sleep with it in, then rinse it out in the morning. It's also an amazing serum for under your moisturizer before you do your makeup. You can cook with it, it's high in Vitamin E, it's antibacterial. What's there not to love really. I could probably write a whole book about the vast ways I use coconut oil. 

4. Comb your hair and then braid it when it's wet

This one is pretty straight forward- a comb is gentler than a brush and when your hair is wet it's really fragile, braiding it keeps the moisture in so it dries less frizzy, and the combination of the two circulates your hair's natural oils from the roots to the ends. Your hair will thank you. 

5. Drink more liquids, get a frother

You know how your grandparents are always drinking excessive amounts of water, tea, hot water with lemon, black coffee? Ya well they actually have a good reason for it. Liquids support digestion, body detoxification, and circulation. Hot water is a vasodilator, meaning it expands your blood vessels, helping muscles relax and reducing tension. Liquids also help your body absorb nutrients and in turn flush out any harmful substances. While coffee and tea need to be consumed in moderation due to the high caffeine intake, drinking them responsibly can actually be linked to having a lower risk of getting certain diseases. A soothing cup of hot water has also been shown to reduce levels of stress and anxiety, and research shows that drinking water before a meal can increase your metabolism by up to 30%. (That's a lot!) 
Now the frother section of this is just to say that if you're not too keen on drinking fluids, make it a fun routine, and by that I mean buy a frother and whip your coffee to a perfect fluffy abyss. I asked for one for Christmas and since then, my friends in Paris come over to my house just for a cup of my perfectly whipped coffee. 
The best Turmeric latte. Look on my Instagram
 under the "eats" highlight for the recipe!

6. Experience a team sport

Where do I even start with this one! From the age of 3 to 18, I played several team sports and have a lot to say about this. My longest team sport obviously being dance, but I also played soccer, hockey, badminton (doubles) and lacrosse growing up. Being an avid cross country runner and track athlete as well, two sports that lean towards individual performance, I feel like I understand the contrast between the two. Studies show that being a member of a team sport increases communication skills, your ability to work as a team, your value of respect, trust in others, and more. When you play as a team you play with teammates that are like your siblings. I would see my group of best friends at dance more than my actual brother and my dance teachers more than my parents. It becomes a community atmosphere that goes above just getting good physical exercise and endurance. The competitive spirit associated with sports is also a healthy atmosphere as long as it's not taken to the extreme. 

7. Stretch every morning

I either stretch before bed or in the morning, but I find the morning to be more effective because then you don't go through the whole day feeling stiff and sore. Stretching increases blood flow, helps prepare your body for the day ahead, and is a ritual that helps my muscles wake up. Now I don't mean full on gymnastics every morning- even a quick back crack or a few minutes in child's pose is a good habit to start doing!

8. Eat less meat

My host dad coined this really cool term the other day called "adaptavore." I'm not strictly vegan or vegetarian, but I have a very low meat intake and have swapped many dairy alternatives like milk, yogurt, etc for non-dairy options. However, if my mom is making burgers for lunch- I'm going to eat a burger. Or if my host family is eating fish, I'm going to eat what is being prepared. It's just about being conscious of the meat you're consuming, and when you do have it making sure it's from an ethically produced source. Not only is eating less meat and getting protein from other sources overall better for your health and reduces your risk of getting various diseases, but by lowering your meat intake you're also eliminating greenhouse gas emissions. The meat industry accounts for 20% of emissions, and 90% of deforestation. Those are huge numbers, so doing your part makes a difference! 

9. Take care of your hands and feet

This is kind of a weird one, but just hear me out. Since your feet are located the farthest from your heart, they are the first part of your body to show circulatory problems, as well as other things like ongoing tingling which is a sign of diabetes, and swollen ankles / feet that could be inflammatory arthritis. We rely on our feet so much so it's important to give them a break sometimes. Also our hands!!! And our nails!! We are using our hands constantly. Any signs of shakiness, numbness, swelling, spots on your nails- are all factors of various health conditions. So pay attention, and moisturize to avoid skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. ALSO coconut oil for your cuticles!! Told you it was good for everything. 

10. Get a massage

Getting a professional massage every once in awhile (or more if you're a serious athlete) is SO important. I didn't know how stiff I was until I started going for them a couple years ago, and it was so painful at first because of all the years of built up muscle tension. But they get better I promise, having released, relaxed muscles is probably the best feeling in the world, especially after dance competition season. 

11. Move your body daily 

SWEATING IS GOOD FOR YOU!!! There I said it. Hot yoga is hot for a reason. Sweating is literally your bodies way of detoxifying, and we're all into detoxifying products. People who move their body daily, even just for a dog walk, quick tennis match, 20 minute work-out... are generally happier due to the endorphins released when exercising, have more energy, less health issues, and an overall better confidence level. 

Spin is actually so fun
My friend Kate and I took up boxing this year at
Chez Simone in Paris.

Hot yoga at the studio called Snake and
Twist right behind my apartment in Paris
is my favourite way to start the morning.
Post box :) 

12. Eat and shop locally and organically

This is probably the most important thing I'm going to talk about. We all go grocery shopping, and we all have felt confused as to what we were supposed to buy. Is there a cheaper alternative? Are the organic strawberries smaller than the normal ones? Is there an option with less plastic wrapping? It's tricky, but hopefully this will help a bit. Shopping at your locally owned shops supports small businesses and improves the economy for everyone where you live. As for the organic benefits:
-organic food is better for the environment as the growing / raising processes ensure that natural fertilizers are used, livestock are given non-GMO feed, disease is prevented with natural sources like rotational grazing, no harsh chemicals are used, etc.
-organic food has fewer pesticides and is all GMO free. 
-organic food is often fresher as it does not have added preservatives or chemicals that make it last longer. 
-The animals are not given growth hormones or antibiotics. 
-It's an overall ethical and environmental way of farming.
So, start buying organic!!

Rice with soya sauce, sweet potato, zucchini, turmeric tofu

Beet salad and tomato bell pepper spaghetti
Apple with PB and cashew cauliflower with coconut sticky rice
and green tea with honey

13. Try natural remedies 

For this I mean to try natural products opposed to over the counter drugs like Advil, Tylenol, Ibuprofen. Obviously if you need antibiotics, you need to get a prescription from a doctor, and I'm not saying that when I have a bad migraine I never take Advil. I'm just conscious of not taking too much and relying on it. There are SO many natural cures out there, like essential oils, magnesium supplements, getting enough sleep and drinking enough water, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake. Natural first, prescription drug second if the natural isn't working is what I do for minor pain or sickness like a cold. 

14. Invest in nice things, say no to fast fashion

This one is also VERY important. Do you know how much waste the fast fashion industry produces every year??? 13 MILLION TONS OF TEXTILE WASTE. 13 MILLION TONS. That is something I find beyond depressing already but ready for the worst par? 95% OF IT COULD BE RECYCLED OR REUSED. 95%. An average consumer throws away 70 pounds of of clothing per year. That is an ungodly amount of unnecessary waste to add to the already deteriorating planet. Find brands that are 1. Sustainable. 2. Transparently and ethically produced meaning the workers get paid fair wages, the material is naturally sourced and good quality, the price point can be exactly traced back through the cost to make the garment and is not inflated when it hits the stores and 3. Shy away from companies like H & M, Zara, Forever 21, and other mass produced high waste stores. Thrifting is so fun and some of my favourite garments were found thrifted or are things that I reworked from old clothes or made myself.

15. Keep a journal and use it daily

As someone who's struggled with anxiety in the past, keeping a journal is a saviour for me. Journaling keeps your thoughts organized and apprehensible, helps me log my goals, milestones, boosts my memory and allows me to self-reflect. It's also a place for me to store photos and little souvenirs like ticket stubs, concert bands, etc. A journaling technique that I like to use is doing monthly recaps, where I take a page and write down all the things that happened in the month so at the end of the year I have twelve pages filled with the best memories. It's also a great way to overview the way you progressed throughout the year and how one month you might have been striving for something that you achieved later on. Pretty cool!

16. Take time to read everyday

Stop letting reading be a thing you adored as a child that slowly got pushed off the radar of things to accomplish and has been forgotten about!! Even if it's just a long instagram caption or proof-reading your friends essay. People who are well-read are more interesting to talk to. Okay I just made that up but in my experience it's true. Studies show that reading helps you focus more and concentrate in other aspects of your life, as well as provides a type of mental stimulation that you don't get doing anything else. I'm certain there's a genre you'll enjoy, from poetry to murder mysteries to short stories. If you haven't found a book that you've loved yet, widen your search!

17. Stop putting your career before your social life

First of all, your career should ideally be something you love. If it's not quite where you want it to be yet, or you need to get through the hard parts for it to blossom into what you've dreamt it would be, then that's even more of a reason to stop skipping the family dinner, girl's night, or hanging out with your little brother. Now I'm not saying you should slack off and never work hard, it's just that you need to maintain a work to life balance. There are many things that are more important than meeting a deadline or doing the extra math questions. You only get to actually live once, if you always push off the living to finish the work you'll never get to actually live. I'm being a hypocrite right now because I am the worst for this, but trust me, everyone needs to take some social time.

18. Take more pictures

Pictures are the only thing that documents the best moments of our lives because our human memories suck!! I mean you'll never regret asking a stranger to take a photo of you and your friends. Unless the said stranger runs off with your phone, so just make sure you pick a nice stranger. Buy some disposable cameras for your next birthday party or friends gathering, put them in a bowl and let people take snaps at their leisure. Get them developed the next day and have tons of cute memories. I like to take pics on only my camera on hikes or day trips, that way I can get a cleanse from my phone and have quality shots afterwards. It's easy to focus on the social media aspect of taking pictures and forget about the real reason we do it, for souvenirs of moments that have passed. Pictures and videos are timeless. 

19. Eat your biggest meal at lunch

This is something I didn't do until moving to Europe. The Ayurveda Hindu health and wellness discipline says that your digestive system is most active around lunch, giving your body the optimal chance to digest your food before sleeping. It also makes sense to consume the most in the middle of the day so you have energy for the afternoon, opposed to eating the most at dinner time when you're most likely just going to sleep afterwards. Overall I feel better eating more earlier on!

Urth café on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles, one of my favourite cafés.


So there you have it, my tips and tricks for a healthy lifestyle :)) Let me know down below if you try any of these out or have already been doing these. Happy quarantining, I'm sending you all the best vibes in the form of freshly baked brownies, sleeping in, and watching 80's movies. 


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