If you’ve been feeling tired, bloated, or just out of sorts lately, summer is as good a time as any for you to give your body a restart. It may sound like quite the undertaking — adulting is hard enough without having to switch up your daily routine — but there are plenty of ways to give your body a fresh start that don’t involve crazy diets (like drinking strictly lemon water for days on end) or hardcore workouts. Rest assured: none of these tips involve depriving yourself.
Actually, according to Tiye Massey, Director of Content at Clean, a 21 day detox program developed by one NYC-based Dr. Junger, one of the most effective ways to give your body a restart is simply by eating better, rather than eating less. When I reached out to Massey for tips on how to give your body a fresh start, most of her advice on the topic had to do with improving diet. “Everyone can add more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to their diets. Antioxidants can help us look and feel better by preventing cell damage caused by the free radicals we are all exposed to every day,” Massey tells Bustle. “Jumping and even dancing can also help with lymphatic function and only takes a few minutes a day to feel the benefits.”
Here's everything else I learned about how to reset your system without spiraling into hangriness and gym-rat-level-exhaustion.
1. Drink More Water
Maybe you're one of those Super Together People who drinks multiple liters of water every day without fail. If that's you, congrats! Just keep doing what you're doing, you responsible human, you. If, however, you (like me) habitually don't drink enough water, then one of the easiest ways you can give your body a reboot is by upping your water consumption.
Massey suggests "starting with your body weight in pounds and dividing that number in half. The number you end up with is the minimum amount of water in ounces we suggest drinking every day." So if you weigh, say, 130 pounds, then you should be drinking at least 65 ounces of water daily. If you drink coffee and booze on the regular, (guilty) then you should really be drinking even more than that. "Add more water if you exercise, drink coffee, or consume alcohol — all of which can dehydrate your body," Massey says.
2. Temporarily Cut Inflammatory Foods Out Of Your Diet
Massey suggests cutting out foods that commonly cause sensitivities and inflammation in the body temporarily, "such as wheat, dairy, eggs, nightshades, corn, soy, processed sugars along with certain meats, fruits, and condiments." So basically, you've got to cut most of the fun foods from your diet if you want to reboot your system.
Fortunately, though, this hiatus from wheat bread and other delicious things doesn't have to be permanent to be effective. Additionally, Clean can help you slowly ease some of these foods back into your diet if you think you'll need help with that. "You don't have to give up these foods forever — after three weeks, our Wellness Coaches help guide cleansers through a reintroduction phase to customize a healthy diet moving forward off of the program," Massey says.
3. Spend More Time In Nature
Personally, I love being outside, so I typically spend at least an hour walking, reading, writing, and/or chatting in nature every day. Even if you don't consider yourself the "outdoorsy type," though, you should still probably try to get outside more — because nature is really good for us. As The Atlantic explained in their 2013 article on the topic, "People who are exposed to natural scenes aren't just happier or more comfortable; the very building blocks of their physiological well-being also respond positively." So not only can spending time in the great outdoors be fun as hell, but studies show that spending time in natural settings literally resets our minds and bodies.
In one such study from the 1980s — which focused on patients who were recovering from gallbladder surgery from 1972 to 1981 — it was found that the patients whose windows looked out at brick walls instead of trees experienced more depressive symptoms and needed an entire extra day to recover from their operations. This study also found that nature may have some pain-fighting properties. As The Atlantic reported, "very few of the patients who looked out onto the trees required more than a single dose of strong painkillers during the middle part of their stay, whereas those facing the wall required two or even three doses."
4. Invest In High Quality Foods & Cook For Yourself
Believe me, I get that finding the time to cook can be super challenging. I also understand that high-quality groceries are typically so expensive that eating out might seem like both the easier and cheaper option, but all that take out isn't doing your health any favors. As The Huffington Post explained last year, "You can’t really get control of your nutrition and your health until you know exactly what you’re putting in your body — and restaurants and packaged foods are all about hiding that information from you."
Take the time to learn how to cook a few healthy dishes. As you do so, keep in mind that eating healthy doesn't have to mean completely avoiding carbs and fats, either, because some fats are actually good for us. As Massey tells Bustle, "We enjoy plenty of healthy fats from fish and chia seeds rich in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids and our Clean office is always stocked with coconut oil, which contains medium-chain fatty acids that our bodies can easily use as energy as opposed to storing as excess body fat."
5. Put Vegetables & Omega-3 In Your Smoothies
If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of consuming all the fruits and vegetables your body needs for a legit nutrition overhaul, then take some of that high-quality food we were just talking about and toss it in a blender. According to The Huffington Post, "a good and simple way to start incorporating fruits and vegetables is by making healthy smoothies" — and by healthy smoothies they don't just mean blended fruits and sugar. Vegetables and healthy, monosaturated fats rich in omega-3 (such as those found in avocado, flaxseeds, and chia seeds) are an important part of the smoothie equation, too.
6. Exercise Daily — But Don't Overdo It
It's no secret that exercise is good for mental and physical health, but as Bustle reported back in April, exercise is also an effective way to cleanse the body of toxins. Evidently this is because working out creates the perfect conditions for full-body circulation and sweat, since exercising increases the oxygen levels in our cells. It's important not to overdo it on exercise while you're on a cleanse, though, because high-intensity workouts will do more harm than good if you don't have a sufficient amount of protein in your system.
7. Make Time For Sleep
First of all, let me start by saying that not everyone has the same sleeping needs, so your version of "enough" sleep might be different than mine. Personally, I feel best when I get about eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, but the National Sleep Foundation reported last year that adults aged 26-64 don't actually need eight hours of sleep every single night, so you'll just have to figure out what works for you. That said, whatever your version of "enough" sleep is, being well-rested is crucial if you're looking to give your body a fresh start.
Sleep is one of the major keys to controlling stress and maintaining a healthy weight. On top of that, getting enough sleep is good for your brain, too. So as tempting as it may be to stay up until 3 a.m. with a good book or show, you need to make sleep a priority. Here are a few tips on how to fall asleep at bedtime — and if you're feeling super ambitious, check out these tricks to getting up earlier, too.
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