Set Yourself to Glow
Do you remember when, as a child, it felt effortless to run and play and be outside and eat well and sleep soundly and feel joy and delight at the smallest things? Somewhere along the way, we can lose that ease of living we enjoyed as kids, and now, in this time, in this world, most of us (sadly) probably will end up with a chronic disease. Maybe you already have one . . . or more than one. According to the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 60 percent of adults in the United States already have a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, kidney disease, or dementia, and 40 percent have two or more chronic conditions.
But it’s never too late to turn it around, and you are not a statistic. If you assume you will someday suffer from failing health if you choose to remain on your current course, why wouldn’t you choose a new trajectory? What have you got to lose? Many of you reading this book don’t yet have a major health problem, and you can keep it that way by refusing to be a victim of a culture that glorifies poor health habits. It takes some effort to achieve a vibrant life, but what awesome things are easy?
Your health is yours, and nobody can take it from you if you choose to own it. In this book, you will find the knowledge and inspiration to make changes in the way you live, and the guidance to know how to do it. You will experience firsthand real, tangible, visible shifts in your energy and appearance. You will be vibrant.
30 Vibrant Habits to Cultivate
DAY 1: Try a mirror evaluation and practice self-love.
DO THIS TODAY Spend five minutes in front of the mirror with an eye for what you can do to help yourself feel better. Be honest and evaluate the signs of health and the signs of health dysfunction that you see in front of you. Check your skin, posture, expression, signs of energy or fatigue, signs of happiness or sadness, areas that could use more muscle or a bit less fat.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Your body is doing the best it can with what you give it. Have compassion for yourself and your body, rather than judgment. It’s never too late to be kinder to yourself and make changes that you will feel on the inside and that will show on the outside.
DAY 2: Listen to and try to decipher your body’s signals.
DO THIS TODAY Notice your body’s signals today. Don’t try to control them. Just notice how your body responds to the things you eat, the way you move, how long you sit, how well you sleep. Notice when you feel a good feeling or a bad one. Pay attention to your moods. Every ache, every twinge, every cramp, every itch, every mood change is a message to you about what you are doing. Tune in to the subtle signs that mean your body is talking to you.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Try to decipher your body’s signals. Why do you think you have that stomachache? Why does your knee hurt? Why are you suddenly so tired in the middle of the day? Why are you feeling a bit blue? Whatever you notice, ask yourself “Why?” You may not always have the answer, but asking the question is the first step.
DAY 3: Walk, and notice how it feels.
DO THIS TODAY Take a brisk 15-minute walk today, or add 15 minutes to your regular walk. Pick up the pace and breathe!
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Notice how it feels to move a little bit more than usual. Good? Worth it?
DAY 4: Scale down those energy crutches and turn up the fountain.
DO THIS TODAY Pick an energy crutch—that thing you do when your energy is lagging that you know isn’t great for your health (more coffee, sugar, alcohol, nicotine?)—and have half what you would normally have today. Does it still help? Are the side effects less?
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY You know how to create energy, so why do you choose to seek energy from something you know will ultimately deplete you?
DAY 5: Sleep in the dark and limit screen time.
DO THIS TODAY Make your room completely dark tonight. Block all window light and cover or remove all signs of light, including all light from electronics. Put your phone in another room. Go to bed early enough to get eight hours of sleep and see what happens. Notice how you feel in the morning.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Think about the role electronics play in your life. Would you be less stressed if you spent less time looking at your phone? What if you had less electronic exposure overall? Could you set time limits? Move the TV out of the bedroom? Turn things all the way off more often? In our modern world, you obviously can’t turn off completely, but think about some shifts that might make you feel more free.
DAY 6: Look for signs of dehydration; drink more water.
DO THIS TODAY Hydration is critical for your health at the cellular level. Today, drink half your body weight number in ounces of water.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Might you be chronically dehydrated? If you have dry skin, dry mouth, dark urine, and low energy, you probably are. Think about how easy it is to fix this problem.
DAY 7: Try Beauty Breathing and notice how it affects you.
DO THIS TODAY Once in the morning and once in the evening, do the Beauty Breathing exercise
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Deep breathing can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, slow your breathing, and stop an anxiety attack in its tracks. Is this worth doing more often? It’s so easy and it only takes a few minutes.
DAY 8: Try the Triple Oil Treatment, inside and out.
DO THIS TODAY Look and feel better inside and out with my Triple Oil Treatment today:
- If you aren’t allergic, rub unrefined coconut oil on your lips and cuticles. (PSST: IT’S ALSO LUBRICATING FOR YOUR LADY PARTS.)
- Take an EPA/DHA supplement
- Have a salad with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for dressing.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Some oil is good for your insides, like fish oil and olive oil. Some is better for your outsides only, like coconut oil. Due to its high saturated fat content, it’s not good for your heart or arteries (despite the fad). Think about how you might continue to use the right oils in the right places.
DAY 9: Max out on veggies!
DO THIS TODAY Have 3 cups of green vegetables today, raw or cooked. Lettuce, kale, collards, chard, microgreens, sprouts, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, green beans, asparagus, and artichokes are all good options.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY It’s easy to overeat, but green vegetables are the one food you can eat as much of as you want. You never need to limit them because they contain maximum nutrition for minimum calories, and nobody binges on broccoli. Remember that the next time you want second helpings.
DAY 10: Find a protein shake you like and try it for breakfast or a snack.
DO THIS TODAY Have a pea-protein- or rice-protein-based shake today.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY I don’t normally recommend any processed food, but protein shakes are an exception because they have condensed nutrition and can fill in nutrient gaps, especially when you don’t feel like eating a whole meal. When you find one you like, can it be your go-to when you need a quick breakfast or snack?
DAY 11: Go gluten-free today and notice how it feels. Can you go longer?
DO THIS TODAY If you haven’t eliminated gluten, see if you can go for an entire day without it. If you already have eliminated it, see if you can go an entire day without any grains of any kind, including gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and corn.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Depending on who you ask, most or even all people have trouble digesting gluten, even if they don’t necessarily feel it. There is nothing with gluten that contains anything you can’t get from some other food, and going gluten-free can really help with cutting back on empty carbs and junk food. Considering all that, would it be worth trying to go for a week or more without it, to see how you react?
DAY 12: Start scaling back on sitting time and move more instead.
DO THIS TODAY Figure out how much you normally sit during the day. Cut that amount of time in half today by standing more while working, taking more breaks to walk around, and maybe doing some exercises while watching television or listening to a podcast.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY One of the things I often say to people trying to move more is that any amount of exercise is better than no exercise. Start small, but keep increasing, and your fitness and health benefits will increase steadily, too.
DAY 13: Push yourself a little harder.
DO THIS TODAY Whatever exercise you do now (or don’t do), see if you can push yourself a little bit today. Don’t go overboard, but do try to go a little bit farther, faster, harder, or heavier than you normally would.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY When you push yourself with exercise, your muscle cells respond by making more mitochondria to produce more energy. When exercise feels hard, just remember that you are getting stronger with every push!
DAY 14: Take care of your own needs.
DO THIS TODAY Do something good for yourself today—something you really enjoy. Learning to meet your own needs is essential if you want to be in a healthy relationship between two whole people.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY When you feel tapped out, remember the saying: “You have to fill up your own cup before you can fill up someone else’s.”
DAY 15: Challenge yourself to communicate without any criticism.
DO THIS TODAY See if you can go for the entire day without criticizing anyone you love. It might be harder than you think, but remember that criticizing is just a habit. You can break this one!
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY People often criticize unintentionally in order to prove they are right. The real challenge is to explain your point without any low blows. Are you up for the challenge?
DAY 16: Reach out to a friend.
DO THIS TODAY No one person can ever meet all your needs, so make a date with a friend today to talk about your feelings. It feels good to spread your emotional needs around to a few close friends, and to be able to help meet theirs, too.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Each person has their own set of skills and their own brand of emotional intelligence. Give some thought to what you are good at, and what your partner is good at. Where do you intersect? Are you good at talking, or better at touching? Are you good at helping each other do things, or better at sharing in the pride at what you each did on your own? Contemplate the ways you and your partner interact best.
DAY 17: Improve your sleep hygiene.
DO THIS TODAY Stop eating three hours before you go to sleep. See if you sleep better or have more energy the next day. If you get too hungry to sleep, have a glass of almond milk or a small handful of raw nuts, which will be unlikely to impact your blood sugar. Night eating is usually just a habit, so, with practice, you will stop being hungry at night.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Think about some other ways you could improve your sleep hygiene. Which would you be most likely to be able to keep up?
DAY 18: Try diaphragmatic breathing.
DO THIS TODAY Do 10 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Some smartphones and fitness watches can be set to cue you when to do a minute of deep breathing. This can be a good reminder. If you have this capability, try turning it on and see if it helps your stress level.
DAY 19: Meditation Day!
DO THIS TODAY Try meditating today. Use the visualization exercise
How do you feel afterward?
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY There are many ways to meditate. Do a bit of research and see if you find techniques that appeal to you. Research has proven time and again that meditation benefits your health in many ways, so it’s worth finding the style that you will actually do.
DAY 20: Take 1,000 mg of vitamin C.
DO THIS TODAY If you aren’t already taking vitamin C, start taking 1,000 mg per day, ideally divided between two or three daily doses. If you are already taking vitamin C, try going up to 3,000 or even 5,000 mg per day, if your stomach tolerates that dose. You’ll be supercharging your immune system!
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Spend some time researching Linus Pauling and vitamin C for an interesting history lesson and some useful information about why vitamin C is so valuable for a healthy immune system.
DAY 21: Digital detox day!
DO THIS TODAY Try a digital detox today. See if you can go the whole day with your phone, computer, and television turned off. Instead, focus on listening to music, reading, and spending time with the people who you are actually physically with. Notice how you feel at the end of the day.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Some people have no problem going without their devices, but for others, it can feel like torture. Digital devices encourage shortened attention spans and reduced focus and concentration, and they can distract us from the real world around us. It’s not healthy, so if a digital detox is very difficult for you, it’s a sign that you should probably do it more often. Food for thought!
DAY 22: Go a whole day without dairy products. Can you go longer?
DO THIS TODAY If you still haven’t ditched the dairy, see if you can go an entire day without any dairy products. No milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, ice cream, or anything else made from the milk of an animal. Notice if you have any changes in how you feel, especially digestively. Do you have less bloating, less reflux, less gas, or less stomach pain?
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Fortunately, there are a lot of non-dairy products that mimic dairy products and they are better tasting than ever. Try milks, cheeses, yogurts, creamers, or ice cream made from almonds, cashews, coconut, rice, oats, hemp, flax, hazelnuts, or peas. If you find some favorites, giving up dairy will be a lot easier.
DAY 23: Take a probiotic. Rotate brands.
DO THIS TODAY If you aren’t already taking probiotics, take one today. If you already take a probiotic, look for a different brand with different strains of friendly flora. If you rotate the types of probiotics you take, you will expose your gut to a wider variety of beneficial microbes.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY There is some controversy about whether the microbes from probiotics actually stay in your gastrointestinal tract, but we do know they are beneficial, at least while passing through. To help encourage colonization, be sure to eat fiber with your probiotics. Fiber is your gut bacteria’s favorite food.
DAY 24: Toss old medication and supplements.
DO THIS TODAY Go through your medicine cabinet today and get rid of all the old expired medication and supplements. Most pharmacies will take your expired medication off your hands, or there may be a community drop-off spot.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY The FDA has a Q&A page on their website explaining how to safely dispose of different kinds of medications. Some are flushable, some are disposable, some should be dropped off at an authorized disposal site.
DAY 25: Go a whole day without any added sweetener. Can you go longer?
DO THIS TODAY If you haven’t already, try going for an entire day without any sugar or added sweetener of any kind, including honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave, stevia, and especially artificial sweeteners, which damage your microbiome. If you really need something sweet, have some mint or cinnamon herbal tea, or fresh fruit (not dried).
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Some people have an extremely difficult time giving up sugar. If this is too hard for you, remember the Rule of Halves. See if you can cut your sugar intake in half today. This is a more gradual, less harsh way to ease this addictive substance with no nutritional value out of your diet. If you can get to the point where you only have one square of extra dark chocolate each day, I would call that a success.
DAY 26: Try a grain-free breakfast.
DO THIS TODAY Have a cup of fresh berries with ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond or coconut yogurt for breakfast today. See if this keeps you full longer than a breakfast of grains (like oatmeal or toast).
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Many people who rely on grain-based breakfasts like cereal, oatmeal, toast, pancakes, waffles, or breakfast burritos and think it’s fine are amazed at how much better they feel with a grain-free breakfast. Could you be one of those people?
DAY 27: Have a clean whole-food day with no grain, dairy, sugar, or processed food. You can do it!
DO THIS TODAY Here’s a real dietary challenge, but I believe you are ready! Weigh yourself in the morning, then go for the whole day eating nothing but fresh vegetables (including lots of leafy greens), fresh fruit, nuts (including unsweetened almond or coconut milk), seeds, grilled or broiled seafood, and legumes (including hummus) with only olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing or sauce. No grains, no dairy, no sugar, no processed food. Drink lots of water throughout the day. You can have one cup of black coffee and two cups of green tea if you need them. Weigh yourself the next morning. Do you like the results?
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Your day might look like this:
Breakfast could be a bowl of fresh berries and raw nuts and seeds with half a cup of unsweetened almond milk or coconut yogurt.
Snack is a piece of fresh fruit or some raw veggies with hummus.
Lunch could be a big salad full of fresh veggies with a piece of grilled salmon, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
Dinner could be a big bowl of chunky lentil veggie soup, or a stir-fry with lots of fresh veggies and some scallops or shrimp over cauliflower “rice” or spaghetti squash.
Need dessert? How about a small spoonful of almond butter with some raw cacao nibs sprinkled on top, or some apple slices with cinnamon and chopped pecans?
DAY 28: Exercise for an hour! Go, you!
DO THIS TODAY Let’s up the exercise ante today! Commit to one full hour of continuous moving. You can walk, you can run, you can lift weights, you can do yoga, but whatever you do, do it for an hour.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY Think how great you could feel if you did this six days a week. This would be a great goal.
DAY 29: Be vulnerable with somebody you love.
DO THIS TODAY Have an honest talk with your partner or a friend today. Tell them what they mean to you. Tell them how important they are in your life. Commit to loving them better. Being vulnerable in front of another person feels hard but it also feels great.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY In an entitlement culture where people tend to think they deserve everything but shouldn’t have to work for it, admitting you need someone and that you value them can feel scary. It opens a door to a new level of intimacy, though, so if you really want to feel closer to someone, vulnerability is what it takes.
DAY 30: Consider what has worked for you and what hasn’t, and pat yourself on the back. Great job! I’m so proud of you!
DO THIS TODAY Today, look back over the past 30 days. Which habits are you still doing? Which do you want to pick back up? Which are not going to work for you? Make a list of what you want to incorporate into your life and keep going. We all slip up now and then. Nobody’s perfect. But if you can stick with your new good habits and leave most of your old bad habits behind you most of the time, you will become more and more vibrant.
THINK ABOUT THIS TODAY What did you learn about yourself over the last 30 days? Let’s rank your energy level one more time, on a scale of 1 to 10. How is your energy fountain now?