If anyone is a walking (biking, running, hiking) advertisement for the value of taking care of yourself, it’s our nutrition coach and regular guest blogger, Michelle Cartmel. Here she discusses why self-care isn’t self-indulgence, it’s doing what’s best for your body and your health.

Over the past year, the phrase “self-care” has become one of the new, modern-generation buzz terms that’s been added to our vernacular and prescribed regularly.

From health mavens on social media channels like Instagram, to doctors and therapists, to cheesy TV infomercials, someone is always telling us why we should be practicing self-care, and, if you ask me, making us feel inadequate because we’re not doing enough of it.

I get why it’s come to the forefront; we’re all so over-programmed with work and life responsibilities  that we often don’t take time to take care of number one. Before you know it, our rapid pace has taken its toll on us – mentally and physically.

Seriously, we need to be reminded to sleep?!

What does it tell you when Arianna Huffington, one of the most successful media moguls of our time, writes a book called The Sleep Revolution to remind us how important it is to, well, sleep! It’s so basic, right?

While the book is full of scientific evidence that supports the importance of sleeping, napping and rest, the message is simple: getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

So, what a book like this tells me is that our society really does need to take a back-to-basics approach to health, and good sleep is one of the foundations we need to build upon.

Self-care doesn’t need to mean adopting a new Ashtanga yoga practice into your life or becoming a vegan. My prescription for self-care: keep it simple, Sally. Start with the basics and when you’re ready, you can add on.

So, in addition to sleep, here are two surprisingly simple ways you can start practicing self-care today:

One: Wash and moisturize your face before bed.

woman in towel sips coffeeWhen I was a little girl, I remember lying in bed at night listening to my mom wash her face, brush her teeth, etc. She would come into my room to kiss me good night afterwards; her warm skin smelled of Oil of Olay, and I loved it. My mom is in her early 70s, still religious about her skincare routine, and because of it, has youthful, radiant skin.

So take five minutes to do this every night – and find a mild cleanser and nighttime moisturizer that you love. It doesn’t need to be fancy; in fact, some of the top-rated cleansers and moisturizers can be found at your local drugstore. I have used Cetaphil and CeraVe products for years, and after testing all of the fancy ones, I swear by these!

After a few months of consistent skin care, your skin will begin to brighten and soften, and throw a curve ball at that aging thing. And when you’re ready to add-on, I recommend toner and hydrating eye cream. (Oh, and sunscreen is a must every day, after a few minutes of vitamin D time.)

Two: Eat like a rabbit.

rabbit eating a flower

That’s right, hop to it! Make greens, veggies, and fruits a central part of your diet. I’m not suggesting that you should eliminate meat from your diet (although I fully support this), but you should supplement your diet by adding in more fresh produce. A diet rich in veggies and fruits will help reduce the risk of heart disease (the leading cause of death among women in the U.S., according to the CDC).

When possible, add veggies and fruit to every meal. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • a handful of spinach in scrambled eggs
  • blueberries on your yogurt
  • kale in a fruit smoothie
  • chopped veggies for snacks
  • riced veggies, which you can substitute for regular rice in your next stir fry dish. Green Giant now has a terrific line of riced veggie products that are available in most freezer sections.
  • spiralized veggies (my fave!) which are now available in many markets, or you can spiralize at home. I swap spiralized zucchini for spaghetti and top with pesto or marinara sauce. Such a healthy, no-guilt meal! I follow Inspiralized on Instagram for healthy inspiration.

One fun way to add more fruits and veggies: shop at your local farmers’ market.

These small changes to your daily life can lead to impactful results over time, but first you’ve got to commit to consistency and commit to yourself – because YOU are worth it.

Take good (self!) care.

Michelle

 

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Michelle Cartmel

Michelle Cartmel is a certified health/nutrition coach, busy mom and a self-taught cook.  As a long-time believer that you don’t need to sacrifice flavor to stay fit, Michelle launched her coaching business to help people restore healthy habits and get back on track to attaining their goals using flavorful, whole foods as the foundation and springboard towards a happier, healthier life. Michelle works both one-on-one with women and families and also leads group nutrition sessions. When she isn't working, she's cooking, cycling and running around with her two young sons. Learn more about Michelle at freshstartgal.com

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