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Natural Awakenings New York City

Gut Check

Jul 03, 2019 08:02AM

Small tweaks can add up to big changes for better health

It doesn’t have to be hard to fit diet and exercise into our daily lives, and it’s not selfish to take care of ourselves.

By Celeste DeCamps

Everyone is looking for a shortcut to good health—a life hack that would simplify our to-do list when it comes to feeling and looking better. Just say the words “diet and exercise” to someone, and you can almost hear the internal groan. Who has time to plan out nutritious meals and make regular trips to the gym? Obviously, someone who has no responsibilities for anyone or anything except himself.

What’s the answer? How can we make time for ourselves without adding more stress to our already stressful day? How can we stop reading this article before it asks us to do something we don’t want to do?

Whoops, too late.

If the idea of overhauling your entire life is overwhelming, try tackling that big goal incrementally, with small changes. You can make a tweak here and a tweak there and see good results without having to deal with the anxiety of adopting an entire health regimen all at once.

This issue of Natural Awakenings focuses on the gut—one component of our internal system that definitely needs more love. It’s a good place to start. So here’s my suggested change for this week:

Eat more fruits and veggies. Did you know that consuming two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day helps reduce the growth of “bad” bacteria in the gut and increase the concentration of “good” bifidobacteria? Until recently, I didn’t either. But making this simple change to your daily diet is not hard. Just throw in a couple of pieces of fruit and add some flavorful veggies to your meals.

Next week try another small change. Then try another one the week after that. (Or don’t. I’m not very demanding.) Here are a couple of ideas:

Get more exercise. I know you knew that was coming. But what if I said to do something fun, like dance or swim or run around the park with your kids? See, that’s not so bad. All physical activity counts toward keeping your gut working. Moving your body also helps reduce stress and anxiety, which in turn helps maintain a healthy gut.

Breathe in some fresh air. I know you can do that. If you’re indoors a lot, take a break and get outside. Ideally, try to find some trees to hang out with. Being out in nature and taking a moment for yourself goes a long way to feeling better overall. We can go the whole day holding our breath, running from one place to another. Stopping to breathe gives us a chance to slow down, center ourselves and quiet our busy minds.

It doesn’t have to be hard to fit diet and exercise into our daily lives, and it’s not selfish to take care of ourselves. In fact, it’s important to develop healthy habits so that we stay strong for ourselves and our families. When we feel good, we have more energy to be there for everyone else.

Now, who wants to go dancing?

Celeste DeCamps is a motivational speaker. She shares a lifetime experience of stage dance and movement through engaging stories and fun audience interaction. For more information, visit her


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