Healthy Habit Harvest

Healthy Habits to be Thankful for this Holiday Season 

This month, we give thanks for healthy habits.

Check out these five healthy habits from Dr. Deb Houk that you can take advantage of this Thanksgiving season and learn how they benefit your overall wellness!

  1. Give thanks for exercise! If you want to decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke, one of the best ways to do so is to increase your physical activity. Exercising regularly is an amazing way to improve your health by normalizing many factors that easily get out of control, like your blood pressure, blood sugar, and your cholesterol. You don’t need to go crazy with the exercise either, as even walking for 30 minutes, three to four times a week can substantially benefit your health! Exercise and increasing physical activity can also help you lose excess weight, which in turn decreases your risk of developing further negative hits to your health like diabetes and high blood pressure. Take a walk with your family after eating Thanksgiving dinner this year, and make exercise a habit going forward!   
  2. Give thanks for sleep! Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, stick to a pre-sleep routine, avoid technology (cell phones, tv) prior to sleep, and sleep in a cool, quiet, and dark environment. Sleep disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea are shown to negatively affect heart health, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death.  Fatigue by itself is considered an impairment like alcohol and drugs, can lead to depression and mental health issues, and has significant consequences for those who are sleep deprived.  
  3. Give thanks for water!  Drinking enough water each day helps the body cleanse itself from toxins, keeps the mind clear, prevents constipation, improves circulation, and helps the body fight an array of illnesses. Water helps the body stay hydrated, which in turn allows the bodily functions to work at their best. Water also helps you absorb the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from the food you eat, giving you even more reason to stay hydrated. 
  4. Give thanks for mindfulness! Most people go through their days somewhat mindlessly, with their attention divided and unfocused. Being mindful is one healthy habit that can help people decrease stress levels, reduce anxiety, and improve many medical ailments like high blood pressure, chronic pain, and depression. Adding relaxation techniques like guided imagery and progressive body relaxation can help make you feel like a new person as the body’s natural relaxation response is stimulated. Practice mindfulness as you go to bed and before you get out of bed each morning.  
  5. Give thanks for sunlight! Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D for our bodies, which when optimized helps build strong bones, manage calcium levels, decrease inflammation, and support the immune system. Sun exposure protects against mental health issues like depression, improves mood and overall sense of well-being, and supports better sleep by resetting your circadian rhythm. The key is protecting with sunscreen, but also enjoying the health benefits that the sun has to offer. 

And, here is where Michelle Mejia is finding health and contentment this month.

I love eating out. Growing up, my father was a talented chef who spent his time here in Naples and in the Northeast. As someone who grew up in the restaurant industry and even cooked professionally for two years, I’m happy to share that I’ve always had a healthy relationship with food. I love eating, I love cooking, and if you see me downtown, chances are I’m also drinking an Aperol spritz or a glass of whiskey with my dinner. 

Something that people ask me about is whether or not I diet or exercise, and what I do in general to maintain my health. The truth is that I don’t think about my health all that much. I don’t obsess about it. I don’t restrict myself from anything I want to eat or drink. I also don’t really exercise all that much. The answer is that I’ve developed a few great habits that I continuously rely on that work well for me. 

One thing is that I don’t eat meat. I cut that from my diet over 16 years ago. I eat fish when I go out, otherwise, I eat predominantly vegetarian and mostly healthy. A second thing I do is use intermittent fasting and do a full cleanse at least twice a year. For example, every year just before Easter, I fast for about 3 days. The third thing that I routinely do is use meditation daily and attend an intense meditation retreat every year for four days straight. This helps me to become aware, pay attention to my body, and feed it what it needs in order to have great energy and thrive. For me, it’s all about balance, and using these tools allows me to still eat out and have fun. 

Michelle Mejia is the owner of Naples Home Stylist. She helps her clients to create beauty and balance in the home by using her expertise in design, organization, and healthy living. 

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