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I went to Melissa to help me get over my craving for chips. It was my “go to” comfort food for decades. After 20 minutes with Melissa, my cravings are gone. I no longer have to use will power, as it is no longer even a thought. Thank You Melissa!

Diana Benson

Phoenix, AZ

I want to share with you five easy steps to improve your health. So often, when we think about our health, we don’t know where to start, it can feel overwhelming. There’s so much information out there, how do I know what’s real, what’s true and where to start?

I want to allow you to start very simply with these easy steps because when you start a process simply, it’s easier for you to stick with it than if you were to try and do everything all at once as then it gets overwhelming and it becomes too much.

5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Health Now

As you know, I have my “Don’t Wait For Your Wake Up Call!” podcast and this blog because I’m all about health education and giving you ways to improve your health. I also want to empower you in your health journey by ensuring that you know that you are not at the whim of your genes. You can absolutely impact your health outcomes based on the actions you take today. And what I mean by all of that is the fact that epigenetics has now proven that just because your parents might have had heart disease, or there might be breast cancer in your family or some other form of cancer, that it doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to get those diseases, and you don’t have to feel like “I got bad genes”.

In reality, the amount of genetic impact from your parents’ health on your health outcomes is actually only 5% to 10%.  The other 90 to 95% is the environment you create inside your body, by the lifestyle that you live. This is where you can be really empowered in your health because you can choose to create a body that is inhospitable to disease, so that the ‘switches’ that would turn on your genes for the diseases that you are genetically predisposed to never get switched on.

I’m going to repeat that as it’s so important!  Those switches never have to get switched on, if you create a body that is ‘in-hospitable’ to disease. And so that’s what I want to share with you today!   You can make the choices; you can be empowered in your health. What you do today matters for your health one year, five years, 10 years from now, people can have Alzheimer’s for 20 to 30 years before it ever gets diagnosed. And so that’s what I mean by ‘what you do today matters’. And you can just start taking baby steps, to make small changes so that you are changing your long-term health outcomes.

There are five steps I’m going to share with you today, that you probably already know, however, are you implementing them?  And I want to not only share the steps, but explain why and how in taking this action, it will improve your health because I believe when you understand the ‘why’, it drives you to taking action rather than just being told to do something.

You don’t have to implement all five at once. As I said, implement them one at a time. Start with the easiest one for you and do that for a few weeks. And then when you feel you’ve got that one down, move on to the next one. And these are in no particular order either. Like I said, pick the one that feels the easiest to that you want to start implement eating now.

Step 1: Hydration

How much should you be drinking on any given day in order to give your body the hydration that it needs?  Hydration is incredibly important for our body, our brain is made up of fat and water, our body is largely made up of water. When we’re not giving ourselves enough hydration, we can get a headache. As the brain starts to kind of dry out, we age faster as the body and the cells in the organ start to dry out, and they can’t function as well.

How much is the right amount to be drinking?

You might have heard eight cups a day, and then you think,  “I’m way smaller than the next person, is that really true?”

I’m going to give you a ratio that works with the size of your body:

On any given day, you should be hydrating 50% of your body weight in ounces. For example if you weigh 150 pounds, 50% of that is 75 pounds, therefore you should be hydrating with 75 ounces, and that is almost eight cups.  If you weigh 200 pounds, then you need to be drinking 100 ounces. If you weigh only 100 pounds, you need to be drinking 50 ounces. That is a way to easily be able to calculate how much you need to drink based on your body size, on any given day.

Now, you will want to increase that if it’s a super hot day and you’re running around and you’re sweating a lot, plus you want to increase the amount of water you  when you’re doing a detox program too.  When I run my detox programs with people, I have them increase to 2/3 their body weight in water because we really want to flush all of those toxins out.   50% of your body weight on a normal day is a great starting point.

You may not even be drinking that much right now. So you don’t want to just suddenly go from only 30% of your body weight up to 50% of your body weight, as that can feel like a lot. It’s best to increase slowly over the course of the next week until you get to that 50% point.

Some people say they forget to hydrate, I always have a mug at my desk, in my car, everywhere I go, I always have something with me. You may not be in that habit yet, but you can start to create that habit. Put a water bottle in the car, put a water bottle beside your bed, have one at your desk, so that you can easily hydrate because by the time you feel thirsty, it already means the body is dehydrated. Ideally you want to be drinking throughout the day so that you don’t even feel thirsty. You can buy water bottles that  have the times of the day marked on them. To build the habit, you could use that and then by 10 o’clock, you have to have drunk a certain amount and you can see if you are behind schedule or not. By 12 o’clock this much, by two o’clock this much. And in following that it just helps you realize, oh, I haven’t drunk enough and its now noon, I need to catch up on my how much water I’ve drunk. So that works well for people.

I also want to share with you what is considered to be hydration.  Good hydration for the body is water and herbal teas, protein shakes or shakes that are full of all your vitamins and minerals. The detox shakes that I use with my clients are also considered hydration. Water that you’ve added the juice of half a lemon or half a lime is considered hydration and it gives you some good electrolytes in there too.

Drinks that are not considered “hydration” and don’t count in the amount that you’re calculating for 50% of your body weight are:

  • coffee,
  • caffeinated teas,
  • any alcohol,
  • pop,
  • energy drinks

None of those are considered hydration for the body. So in your calculations,  please don’t include any of that when you’re figuring out your 50% of your body weight.

Another tip is that the body does better when it hydrates with warm fluids. So room temperature or warmer rather than ice cold is better for absorption by your body.

Step 2: Sleep

70 million Americans struggle with sleep every single night. And when we don’t get enough sleep it is negatively impacting our health.  Sleep is absolutely critical to our body being able to restore, rejuvenate, heal, as well as detox overnight. The average human needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night. If you’re unwell and healing, you need to be closer to the nine-hour mark. If you’re doing well and you feel good, maybe you only need seven hours of sleep. Too many people are surviving on five and six hours of sleep a night. That’s surviving, it is not thriving. You might think you’re okay with it right now, however what you do today matters for your health down the road.

When we don’t get enough sleep, the balance in our gut starts to break down, as lack of sleep will kill off our good bacteria in our gut.  It also makes us less resilient to the stresses that we face each and every day when we go out into this stressful world that we live in. As a result between the stress being higher, and then our gut health being lower, it wreaks havoc on our immune system,  when we’re not getting enough sleep, we are more prone to getting sick.  Again, you probably already know that already, however maybe you just needed that reminder today, so that you can start to focus on prioritizing your sleep.

That’s really what I invite people to do – prioritize your sleep. So often, we simply get busy in our day, and we just want to get that one more thing done, so we squeeze out our sleep time rather than prioritizing our sleep. Instead, figure out what time you have to get up tomorrow morning to start your day based on wherever you need to be. Then make sure that you’re getting into bed, seven and a half to eight hours prior to your wakeup time.  That way, you have time, once you’re in bed, to be reading, having some quiet time, and the time it takes to fall asleep after you turn out the light and still get at least 7 hours of sleep.  In order to do that, it might mean that you need to be getting off screens earlier to get yourself into bed earlier.

Going to bed one hour earlier every night, can be a difficult habit to implement, however you can do it in small increments, you can set alarms in your watch, to remind yourself to get off the screens earlier, and just shift your bedtime 15 minutes earlier every night for a week, and then move it forward again 15 minutes the next week. By the end of the month, you’ll be going to bed an hour earlier. That’s a lot more doable for people.

Getting off screens is very important too because screens put out blue light. Blue light actually blocks the production of melatonin in your body for 30 minutes, after you get off screens for every hour you’ve been on screens. If you’ve been on screens with blue light coming into your eyes, which is the light of high noon, for three hours in the evening, when you get off your device, then you won’t be able to produce melatonin for another 90 minutes after that. Your body needs to produce melatonin for you to get into that deep restorative sleep. Therefore, if you get off screens earlier, you’re going to have a much more deep restorative sleep. If you can’t get off screens earlier, you want to be blocking that blue light that’s coming into your eyes. You can do that on phones with night shift options in your settings, you can go into ‘display and brightness’, you can turn on ‘night shift’, mine’s turned on from 5pm to 7am every day, so it automatically turns on. This way,  if I’m looking at my phone after dark, I’m getting yellow light rather than blue light into my eyes. You can do the same on your laptop or computers, you might have that option. I just noticed that mine had that option,  the other day!

However, I’ve been using something else for quite some time now called “Just Get Flux”  which is a free download. You can simply download that, and it has a GPS system in it, so it knows where you are. It knows what time dusk is in your region and it will automatically turn on yellow light on your computer.   For television screens, you can buy blue light blocking glasses and wear them and that can have a profound positive impact on people’s sleep.  I’ve had clients tell me they were night owls and they could never go to bed between before 2 ~ 3am.  It’s because they were watching television late into the night with this blue light coming into their eyes and their body wasn’t able to produce melatonin and they weren’t able to get to sleep. As soon as they started using blue light blocking glasses, they noticed a profound improvement. Blue light blocking glasses are not expensive. If you have prescription glasses you can actually take them in and have a blue light blocking glaze added to your prescription glasses, if you haven’t already done that.

I highly recommend that you address the blue light that you may be getting into your eyes from all of the devices that we have in our world today, in order to help improve your body’s ability to produce melatonin and you to be able to get into a more deep restorative sleep.

The other thing that’s important with that is having a bedtime routine, because the brain also needs to have a trigger as to when it should start producing melatonin. Back in our hunter gatherer days, we didn’t have electricity. The brain knew when to produce melatonin because of dusk. However, we no longer have that trigger with all the lights we have in our houses as well as our screens.  We need to teach our brain when it is time to start producing melatonin. The brain figures that out when you follow a specific routine, for 30 days.  That routine can just be four to six steps that you do in the same order every night as you’re getting ready for bed, it can take half an hour or so.

Examples would be things like walking the dog around the block, maybe it’s tidying up the kitchen, maybe it’s taking a shower or bath and then brushing your teeth and putting on your PJs and getting into bed and writing your journal or reading a book. Do these in the same order every night over the course of the next month, as you bring your bedtime forward by 15 minutes each week and you will notice that you are much better able to sleep.

Right now, what most of the population is doing is trying to ‘sleep on demand’. They go-go-go all day, do everything that they have to do and then now they’re tired, and it’s time for bed, so they get into bed, turn out the light and they expect the body to just be able to sleep. It doesn’t work that way. Our sleep is impacted by what we’ve eaten, how close to bedtime we’ve eaten, how much sugar has been in the food we’ve eaten, how much coffee we have running through our veins, whether the body is still hopped up on cortisol, which means it’s not producing melatonin. All of these things impact our sleep, and we’re not taught this because we believe since we come out of the womb, and we know how to sleep, that we don’t need to learn how to sleep. Yet this information is so important because we have so many things in our busy lives these days that are negatively impacting our sleep. So again, just pick one of these areas that you want to improve upon.

Here’s a tip, if you choose hydration, and reduce your coffee, because it’s not hydrating and you’re choosing other forms of hydration, you’re also going to be benefiting your sleep, because coffee has an eight hour half-life!  What I mean by that is, if you have a cup of coffee at eight o’clock in the morning, you still have half of that caffeine running around in your veins at 4pm, and half of that again at midnight. If you’ve had more than one cup of coffee in the day, that can be negatively impacting your sleep depending on how sensitive you are to it. A lot of people don’t realize this, and they drink coffee to give them the energy and wake up their brain to get them through the day. However, then it’s negatively impacting their sleep, and then you don’t sleep well and when you wake up,  you start your day with coffee and then do it all again.

When I work with clients, I have them remove coffee for a couple of weeks, so they can start to understand their sensitivity to coffee, and how coffee is impacting their sleep. In many cases, they choose not to go back to coffee because they realize they sleep better without it and they wake up feeling more mentally alert and energized. You can do that for yourself as well.

Step 3: Brain Breaks

We are always go-go-go trying to get everything done, and we’re not giving our brain a chance to take a break. In this stressed-out world that we live in, we really do need to give our brain just little five minute breaks which   can be done in so many different ways.  It’s whatever resonates with you – such as:

  • Going outside for five minutes and breathing in the fresh air and a short little walk.
  • Just sitting at your desk and closing your eyes and/or putting your head down for five minutes, and just really focusing on your breathing.
  • Taking a five-minute break to chat with a friend and get out of work mode and just kind of get into fun mode and play mode.
  • Getting up and changing the location of where you’re at, moving away from your desk and allowing yourself to breathe.

Breathing really is a fabulous way to get out of the stress state and into the parasympathetic nervous system, rest, and digest state. We have our breath with us all the time, and it’s so powerful because when we are in this stress state all the time, we are negatively impacting our health. Just like with our sleep, we are breaking down the balance in our gut microbiome. High stress is killing off the good bacteria in our gut, just like poor sleep does.  As a result, we end up with imbalances in our gut, which can cause all sorts of health issues down the line from Candida overgrowth, to bacterial overgrowth, to digestive issues, not being able to enjoy eating food, because we’ve got pain associated with eating our food, or we’ve got gas and bloating, maybe constipation, maybe diarrhea, stress is very often the root cause for all of this.

If you can mitigate your stress by taking little five-minute breaks through the day, just start off with taking one five minute break a day for the first week. Then in the next week, can you build in 2 five-minute breaks. The next week, maybe you get 3 five-minute breaks into your day. Notice the difference in how you feel and know that you are significantly helping your body and your brain be able to cope and be on a healthier trajectory.

When we are under high stress, and we’re not giving ourselves these breaks, we can’t even digest our food properly, because digestion is turned off in the high stress state. I’ve done podcasts & blogs on stress in the past, which you can check out.   I just want you to know that high stress shuts down our digestive system and if we continue to put food into our mouth, the body can’t even break that down properly. We’re not getting the vitamins and minerals that we need in order to function well. We burn through our reserves, and pretty soon we get to a place of depletion. That’s when you’re dragging your butt, you’re feeling exhausted, you’re not able to function at your best.  You need to assess the stress in your life and figure out what do you need to do in order to support that, as well as who might you need to get help from at that point too.

High stress can also cause hormonal imbalances, I see this all the time, particularly in women. In a high stress state, the body not only shuts down digestion, but it also shuts down procreation, as the body’s trying to produce more cortisol and adrenaline to give you the energy to get to safety because that’s what it thinks you need.  As a result, it’s not producing progesterone, and yet, it’s still producing estrogen. Plus, we’re getting estrogen through xeno-estrogens from a lot of personal care products and plastics and toxic forms of estrogen that the body’s taking in. Then we end up in an estrogen dominant state.

That’s not a state that anybody wants to be in either because an estrogen dominant state can then slow your thyroid and metabolism, hello weight gain and it can put you on the path to type two diabetes.  It can put you on the path to breast cancer, all because stress has caused an imbalance between your estrogen and progesterone levels. These are things that are really important to know about. They’re also things we can test for. So, if it’s something that you’re concerned about, we can test for this and see if that’s where you’re at and then know exactly how to rebalance the hormones.

Also, a lot of people are popping antacids day in and day out because of digestive struggles. When you read the label on the bottle, it says they should not be taken for more than two weeks at a time without your doctor knowing about it. Yet people are buying them over the counter and using them for years and years and years, that only further worsens your digestive health. Even though in the moment you think it’s helping because it’s helping resolve your heartburn issues, it’s making things worse because the fact that you need them in the first place is because of high stress.

Stress has caused a sphincter at the bottom of your esophagus to malfunction and basically it doesn’t seal up nice and tightly anymore.  It’s job is to let food into the stomach cavity and when it gets floppy and doesn’t close tightly again, the little bit of stomach acid that you have can get out and escape up into the esophagus and that’s what you associate with being heartburn. What we need to have happen is we need to be lowering the stress. We need to be allowing the digestive system to turn on properly by lowering the stress and the body will heal that sphincter because that is what the body is designed to do. While we keep taking antacids, we’re simply ignoring the root cause of why you need them, and stopping the body from making hydrochloric acid, the acid that you think you have too much of. Then we put food in, and we expect the body to break it down, and it can’t, because we’ve stopped all of the hydrochloric acid being produced.

We get into this negative cycle with our digestive system, which causes all sorts of gut health issues. We don’t want that, because Hippocrates said over 2000 years ago that all health starts in the gut and he’s right!    We don’t want to be damaging our gut health, we definitely want to be focusing on it. So, brain breaks, taking little breaks, taking the time to breathe and breathe deeply will help lower your stress levels and improve your health.

I’ve done Health Hacks on 5-5-7 breathing. Check it out so you can learn about that technique that’s really easy to do takes less than five minutes.  You can start to implement that in the first week, once a day, and in the second week, maybe try to get it in twice a day. Find things that you enjoy for your brain breaks, just give your brain that break, allow your stress levels to come down in order to ensure that you’re looking after your gut health, your hormone health, and that you’re not ending up really deficient in your vitamin or mineral levels.

Step 4: Detoxing

This is something I talk about all the time; we live in a toxic world. Since World War 144,000 manmade chemicals have been introduced into our world and they are getting into our body, through our waterways, our airways, our skin, our food.  It’s too much for our liver and our kidneys to be able to deal with. They are our detoxifying organs, but they are overburdened and undernourished, overburdened because of that high number of toxins that we have and then undernourished because of our depleted systems soil systems, which means that we’re not getting the nutrients that we need for our liver and kidneys to be able to actually convert those toxins to being water soluble, so we can excrete them from our body. What happens is, the liver tries to just keep those toxins out of our bloodstream, and it will store them in our fat closets, which are in our brain.

I said earlier, our brain is largely made up of fat and water, in our breasts in women, we’ve got dense fat tissue in our breasts, and then anywhere else, we’re carrying extra weight on our body. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want toxins running around in my brain, or in my breasts. Just look at all the Alzheimer’s and dementia we have in the world. Look at all the breast cancer that we have in the world, do you think there might be a connection between our toxic loads and the illnesses, the chronic illnesses that we have in the world today?  There’s absolutely a connection there, and it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to get chronic illnesses, even if we’re genetically predisposed to them. Remember, it’s all about the environment you create inside your body. That’s why I really love sharing this information about detoxing, because it is such a critical step in alleviating the chronic illness that we have in the world today.

It’s not hard to do, I run detox courses throughout the year, and you can hop into one of my group programs and learn

  • how the detox program works
  • the right way to eat for your body,
  • understanding digestion, (where we also dive into the connection between digestion and stress),
  • sugar because it’s in everything,
  • how not to retox after your detox.

My next program is starting at the end of March 2023.

Regardless of when you’re reading this, I will have an upcoming program that you can hop into, or you can do a detox program 1:1 with me if the timing of my group program doesn’t work for you.  Detoxing is a profound way to change your health outcomes and start to understand it at the root cause and get those toxins out so that your body isn’t storing them inside. I don’t think anybody wants that.

Step 5: Focus On Your Gut Health

It’s important to make sure that you don’t have a leaky gut. Leaky gut is caused by many different factors such as:

  • Using too many NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Advil
  • Oral birth control
  • Gluten and dairy products (because they are both highly inflammatory foods)
  • chemotherapy treatments
  • alcohol
  • chronic stress
  • chlorine and fluoride

These are all factors that can trigger something called leaky gut.

What is leaky gut?

Well, leaky gut, is when the lining of your gut wall starts to separate, think of it like a fence, and then gaps begin to develop between the fence posts in your gut, which then allows food particles, and toxins and birth control, and antibiotics to get out of your digestive tract and directly into your bloodstream through this fence, which now has gaps in it.  We absolutely don’t want that to happen, because leaky gut is the root cause of autoimmune diseases. This is because the immune system sees these pathogens in the bloodstream and thinks “ this isn’t meant to be here” and starts attacking it, resulting in our own body attacking itself. Food particles and other pathogens shouldn’t be able to get directly into our bloodstream. We need to ensure that we don’t have a leaky gut. It is something we can test for, if you are struggling with any gut related symptoms, you want to check into that don’t just ignore it.

So often, we’re taught to push through and suck it up and be strong. However, when it comes to our body and our symptoms, the symptoms, our body’s way of talking to us and asking us to do something differently, and we’re not to ignore them. They’re the early warning signs that when we get curious about ‘why do I have this symptom?’, we can start to resolve the issue much more quickly than if we ignore it and then down the road find we have an autoimmune disease.

Too often we are ignoring our symptoms as aging or seasonal allergies, or our genetics, and we shouldn’t be doing that, we really do have to get curious about why we have these symptoms and look into them. And the sooner we do that, the sooner we can bring the body back into balance so that it can heal. You can easily start to reduce the amount of dairy and gluten that you’re eating, even if you don’t think you have sensitivities to them. They are highly inflammatory and can cause problems in your health if you’re eating them daily. Maybe you want to cut back and skip them one day a week, then over time reduce to having them maybe only three to four times a week or less. Reduce the number of processed foods that you’re eating as well. Some, people might have some processed foods every single day, maybe you want to cut it back by three meals a week in order to start changing your habits and start making more meals at home.

When you make meals at home, it means you know what is in the meal that you’re eating because you’ve put all the ingredients in it. When you are buying at the grocery store, you’re buying processed, ready-made meals, read your labels, look for the sugars, look for the vegetable oils that you have. Look for ingredient names of things that you can’t pronounce. If you’re seeing high sugars, if you’re seeing high levels of canola oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, sesame seed oils, these are all really high in Omega 6s and they’re all very inflammatory. You want to limit the amount that you’re getting of these foods, so start reading those labels. And if there’s a lot of ingredients of foods that you can’t even pronounce, it’s probably not food, it’s chemicals that are in your food, and you don’t want those in your body either.

Those are some easy steps of small things that you can take in order to start improving your health and being empowered in your health and learning how to create a body that is ‘in-hospitable’ to disease, because you can absolutely do that.

You don’t want to live in this place of ‘I’m going to ignore my body until I get sick’ as you don’t want to really regret doing that. You also don’t want to live in that place of ‘ignore my body, get sick and then go to the doctor’ expecting them to fix you. It’s not their responsibility to fix you, it is your responsibility to take care of your health.  You have one body, and the more you take care of it, the longer it will function for you at really high levels, so you can get out there enjoy your life, right to the end, with good movement, good flexibility, feeling great, good mental alertness, and having good energy. We have one life, and you get to make the most of it, don’t give up your power, don’t hand over your health to someone else. It’s your responsibility.

I did some research last year and was really shocked to find that the average North American spends 10 years at the end of their life in a nursing home, that’s not quality of life, because by the time you’re in the nursing home, you’re not coming out, you’re basically slowly dying. So even though they say we’re living longer, we’re actually dying longer. There’s a huge cost to that, it’s at $108,000 per year right now, that’s US dollars, and by 2030, that’s forecast to be 141,000 US dollars per year. So, over the course of 10 years, that’s a massive amount of money!

You may not want to invest in your health right now, however do you want to have all of that money set aside to care for yourself for the last 10 years of your life? Or do you want to choose to invest in your health, and enjoy life right to the end and have those 10 years back?  It’s a choice!


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