In today’s podcast episode, we are discussing the next 3 habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle as we head into the new year.
These next 3 habits, in addition to the ones discussed last week, will add health to your years. Not only that, it will help you to maintain a healthy weight (or lose weight), build muscle and healthy bones, and keep you functionally optimally.
When I started embarking on improving my health last year, these are the habits that I started to focus on to get me to my health goals.
And I’ve noticed improvements in various health parameters since adopting these habits.
I encourage you to adopt these habits. Maybe start with one or two to work into your daily routine as add additional ones as you make progress.
Tune in to discover how implementing these habits has been a game-changer for many women and how it can help you reach your health goals in 2024.
Welcome to the Health, Habits, and Epic Living podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Sherry Price. The goal of this podcast is to educate and enable empowered women to take the next steps towards achieving their health, wellness, and lifestyle goals. Let’s get started.
Welcome into the Health, Habits, and Epic Living podcast where we’re going to start into part two of the five healthy habits to institute and to start this year. Now, I want to give a little bit of background about why this topic was so important to me. As I mentioned, last year I learned a lot about health. I really dove into a lot of the research and I came across research that says we are a nation with less than 7% of the population that’s considered to be metabolically healthy and we are a wealthy nation.
And as a wealthy nation, you would think we would be ahead of the curve on so much but we are behind the curve tremendously in our metabolic health. That’s less than 7% of the population considered metabolically healthy, meaning a lot of us have disease, chronic disease. In fact, it’s estimated to be about 60% of the adults have a chronic condition such as arthritis or cancer or obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and so much more. And not only that, nearly a third have two or more chronic conditions.
And then the rise in obesity and the rise in diabetes that we’re seeing in our country just keeps increasing and eventually this is going to bankrupt the system. And what we know particularly about diabetes and many of these chronic conditions is that they are reversible and that they are reversible by doing small lifestyle changes. And that’s why I am so passionate about this topic. And that’s why I created Tone in 10, because I really wanted to teach women how to take care of their bodies for optimal health.
And speaking of Tone in 10, if you are interested in that program, I am launching it again January 21st. And if you would like to check out the details of that, you can go to my website and look for how to work with me and you will see Tone in 10 in the dropdown menu. Because I believe that these 10 healthy habits that we institute into our life will give us longevity and health and prevent future disease. So it’s 10 weeks, 10 habits to a healthier you.
And the program is really chock full of a ton of information that you’re going to get that I could go deeper into. Including workbooks and handouts and videos, including personal calls with me where we can walk through the data or walk through where you’re stuck. Or where maybe you’ve heard conflicting information and you just want some clarity about how to best take care of your health or if you have specific chronic conditions. Because I like many of you, I have questions.
And I like to go to experts who study this stuff and find out what they think and then take that information and apply it back to my life. So I want to reverse that trend. I want to increase that number of people that are considered metabolically healthy. And so that was the impetus of these past two podcasts, really diving into five core healthy habits that if you’re not doing, to start, because they will provide tremendous benefit to your long term health and wellness.
So last week, you know we talked about hydration and it’s not just getting enough water, but it’s the right type of water. And I highly suggest adding in electrolytes, particularly if you lose a lot of water throughout the day, which many of us do. Our cells require hydration and the proper electrolytes to be able to beat our heart, to be able to conduct nerve conduction, to be able to do muscle contraction. All of this requires proper hydration plus electrolytes.
We want to make sure that we’re maintaining our sodium, our potassium, our magnesium, our calcium, all these electrolytes that make our body run effectively and efficiently and optimally. So hydration, very easy to do, very easy to monitor. We want to make sure that you’re getting half of your body weight in at least of water, replenished each day, and some of that water to have electrolytes in it.
The second thing we talked about, that was super foundational, is getting in high quality restorative sleep. Sleep recharges our batteries, it recharges us so that we can be more rested, to be more productive throughout the day. So not getting quality rest, our body is not going to be optimized to produce and perform at its highest. So we talked about some ways we can monitor sleep, some ways that we can increase the quality of our sleep and really support our circadian rhythms.
Our bodies were designed for a time of go, go, go and productivity as well as a time of rest and digest and slowing down to regenerate, restore and replenish.
So today I want to dive into the next three habits we’re going to talk about and these are bigger topics. I think we can have a whole podcast, each about each of these topics. But I just want to give you the highlights because oftentimes you just need the highlight to make your next action step, to start taking action and implement it into your life.
So healthy habit number three is to eat whole foods. I firmly believe in the concept that Mark Hyman talks about is that food is medicine. He is the first person I heard that from. So I’m just going to quote him as saying it, but food is medicine. The type of food we put in our bodies is nothing more than signaling molecules that help us and help our cells determine what we do. So if we give our systems crappy, low quality food, ultra processed food, our body is not going to feel optimal. It’s not going to be able to perform optimal. It’s not going to have the nutrients that our cells require.
So as a firm believer that food is medicine, I want to be sure that I’m fueling my body for optimal function of my cells. And that means I eat whole foods, not all the time. I’m not perfect. I do have some processed foods in my diet, but on the whole I try to really get in at least 80 to 90% of my food from whole food sources. Now, we could go into the tremendous amount of data there is on how whole foods really supports the overall body, from the brain function to the heart function and particularly your microbiome.
If your microbiome is off, every organ system is connected to that and you’re going to feel off. We know that the microbiome is home to 90% or more of the serotonin you make, that calming, happy chemical. And so if our microbiome is inflamed like mine was back in the day, you’re going to wonder why you feel off or why you feel more weepy or why you feel more sad. Because this can be all due to a leaky gut or a dysbiosis, which means our microbiome is not healthy.
Also, when we eat whole foods and we support our microbiome, that microbiome is also home to 70% of our immune system, 70%. So if you’re getting chronic infections or picking up colds really easily, it could be that your immune system is compromised due to a compromised microbiome. Furthermore, a compromised microbiome or a not healthy microbiome is not going to be able to absorb the nutrients when the food passes through because it’s compromised, it’s leaky.
So if our cells are damaged in our microbiome, such as taking in too much and ingesting too much alcohol. That’s a direct irritant and a direct killer of our microbiome, no matter what we eat after that. We can eat all the broccoli we want, but if we damage the cells, it’s not going to be able to take up the nutrients. And this is a field that’s exploding in the last 10 years. So much research is going into the microbiome and how to best optimize it. We’re learning so much as time goes on. And it’s fascinating, this brain, gut connection.
And as I have dug into the research, I created this wonderful workbook inside of Tone in 10, where it’s all about the microbiome, how to best support it and if it’s not supported, all the damaging effects that can occur. So we want to eat whole foods because we want to support our body. We want to support our microbiome. And this is why we want to select foods that are going to best do that. And so look for ways that you can introduce more whole foods into your diet, meaning in their natural state, how they came from the plant or how they came from the ground. So they’re not in packaging or in boxes.
So another way to look at this instead of saying, “I want to eat more whole foods”, you could also state it in the way of saying, “Hey, I want to stay away from ultra processed food and refined sugar.” Because we know ultra processed food is really devoid of nutrients. And we know that refined sugar is very addictive just like alcohol and just as poisoning to our mitochondria and our cells, making us not feel optimal and damaging those mitochondria, which are the energy powerhouses of the cell.
And so if we lack energy, it could be due to the foods that we are eating. And actually I just ran across a study published in Science Direct that found that more than 70% of packaged foods in the United States are classified as ultra processed food. More than 70% of packaged food is classified as ultra processed. And ultra processed food represents about 60% of all calories consumed by Americans.
So we are eating up ultra processed packaged foods because they’re convenient, they’re quick. Most of us like the things that come in convenient, easy to make, quick to do. But I also want to remind you, a lot of the whole foods can be easy and quick to do as well. I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I’m not one that enjoys cooking immensely. So I am always gravitating towards recipes that I can do in 30 minutes or less that come from whole food sources.
So my friends that are listening to this, that don’t share the passion of cooking and really want to get dinner done and out of the way, I want to tell you that there are many recipes out there and many ways of cooking quick and easy and delicious food. And food that my child will eat and she is a picky eater. All is it does, it takes a little bit of creativity. And really to sit down, if you want to make one meal for the entire family, is to decide on, what are the two ingredients we’re going to build this meal around? And that is what I found to be effective in managing dinner for my family.
Now, we know that ultra processed foods, why are they so dangerous? Because they contain so many chemicals. And actually in the ScienceDirect article, it talks about how these ultra processed foods contain acellular nutrients, which they go on to define as just nutrients lacking any natural intact food structure from the original source. So the body doesn’t even recognize it because it’s not in the original form. And these ultra processed foods have led to an increase of weight gain, diabetes, inflammation and many other chronic diseases.
And that’s why food is medicine because if we are selecting these high processed, ultra convenient foods, down the line, we are setting ourselves up for disease, inflammation and weight gain. And so for me, I’ve learned more recipes in this last year than I probably did in my 20s. I learned and implemented different patterns to selecting food, preparing food and being with food in a healthier way than I have ever done previously. Because now I realize the importance of food, the importance of high quality, great ingredients, food.
And for me, it’s not about perfectionism because I know for me that kills the joy of food if I was just so regimented that this is the only thing I ate and I just dismissed all the other ultra processed foods. So again, I come back to as long as I’m doing 80 to 90% from the whole foods category. I’m winning the day, I’m winning the week, I’m winning the month and I’m winning the year.
And since I’ve made these changes, I’ve noticed changes in my triglycerides, changes in my HDL. I’ve never had a problem with those, but these parameters have been improving in just the little changes that I’ve made. Because oftentimes these small parameters are what changes first before we see changes in fasting, blood glucose that goes on to become pre diabetes and that that goes on to become diabetes. We want to make sure that we’re taking action steps way before those markers become elevated.
And if they are elevated, well that we are empowered with the information to make better decisions so that we can reverse those markers and have those markers come down. Because those are definitely two conditions I’m very passionate about and where a lot of women struggle is with the weight gain and then the onset of diabetes. Okay, so that’s healthy habit number three, where we want to increase our whole foods and we want to decrease our ultra processed packaged foods and refined sugar.
Next we’ll move on to habit number four. Healthy habit number four, something I greatly learned about and I am so thankful to my mentors in this space, is that we need to prioritize protein. And literally this has been a game changer for so many of the women in IF:45 and in my Tone in 10 program, where we really focus on how to eat to feel satiated.
Studies show, especially as you age, protein becomes more important for women to maintain our strength, to maintain our muscles and to maintain our bone and our cognition. And currently, most women aren’t getting enough protein in their diet to prevent the onset of these symptoms. Why do we need protein? Well, protein has amino acids, nine of them, which are essential, which means we need to get them from our diet. Our body does not make them so we need to get these amino acids from protein outside of the body because our body does not have the ability to make them.
And we know that amino acids build muscle. And as we age, in fact, each decade after 40, we start losing muscle mass, 8% per decade is the typical amount of muscle loss for women. And muscles are so important. Do you know that our muscles support our ligaments and our tendons and they support our bones? So having more muscle mass and more skeletal muscle mass is going to make us less prone to osteoporosis, less prone to hip fractures, less prone to bone breaks.
And so when we build up our skeletal muscle, our skeletal muscle also needs a lot of energy and it consumes the glucose. So it’s a way that if we increase our muscle mass and a way that we are controlling our blood sugar. And as I already mentioned, protein is the macronutrient that is highly satiating, means when you eat enough protein, you feel full. And isn’t that why we eat? We want to eat, to feel full, we want to feel satiated, we want to feel satisfied, and protein allows us to do that.
Notice if you follow a high carbohydrate diet, high refined sugars, that you eat and you eat and you eat and you eat and you keep eating. And it seems like you can never get full. It’s like that second stomach, it’s like, yeah, I can fit another dessert, yeah, I could fit more of that. Because these refined sugars don’t satiate, but protein does.
So when I work with women and I’m teaching them how to get enough protein in their diet so they feel satiated, they notice that their sugar cravings go away. They notice that they are less hungry. They notice that they are just satisfied after the meal and they’re not rummaging through the refrigerator or the pantry an hour or two hours later. So protein is that one specific macronutrient that you can focus on that will improve muscle mass, curb your cravings, reduce fat and improve your overall metabolic health. And of course, the quality of that protein matters.
We want to make sure our protein is lean, that it’s organic, it’s sustainably raised, it’s not fed any hormones or antibiotics. So we want to get the cleanest source of protein that’s going to be best for our body. Dr. Gabrielle Lyon came out with an amazing book which I highly recommend called Forever Strong. I read that book, I ate it up. It was really changing the paradigm in how we are taught to fuel our bodies, particularly as women. I know a lot of women say, “No, I don’t want to bulk up.”
We’re not talking about muscle bulk up, we’re talking about skeletal muscle, the muscle that supports your bone, your posture, that allows you to lift your luggage and put it up overhead. And when we look at that research that she has put together along with her mentor, Dr. Donald Lehman, I’ve heard them on several podcasts. They are so informative, so good about exactly what sources of amino acids we need, the type of protein we need to be able to maintain our vitality, our agility, our mobility and our strength as we age into our 80s and 90s.
This book has literally been a game changer. Following her on her podcast has been a game changer for me in my life. And so I love spreading the word about the great work she is doing in the world, particularly when it comes to women’s health and muscle strength. And furthermore, when I’m working with women, I also make sure that they get enough protein at that first meal of the day, because that’s going to be most important, because that’s when you’re breaking your fast.
So you want to stop that muscle catabolism that happens overnight by giving your muscles the fuel source it needs. And so we need to be getting in as women at least 30 to 40 grams of protein in that first meal of the day. And I will tell you from countless testimonials that I have received from those programs that women say it promotes their satiety, balances their blood sugar.
Some of the ladies have even purchased those continuous blood glucose monitors, and they’ve noticed that high amounts of protein first thing in the morning will reduce their blood sugar throughout the day, satisfies their hunger, curbs their cravings for the entire rest of the day. And so I found this to be really important to be one healthy habit to institute as a woman into your day because it has tremendous, tremendous benefits that day and downstream.
And then lastly, the last healthy habit that makes the top five list and again, in particularly for women and for women who are aging in particular, is to institute resistance training. I have to tell you, I have been following a number of people on Instagram, reading books on this and really thankful for the mentors and the research that they’ve pointed out on how much resistance training is needed, particularly when you’re north of 40.
Now, don’t get me wrong, exercise of all kinds is good for the body, but if you just do aerobic and cardio, you’re not going to get the amount of benefit that you can as if you introduced a few sessions of resistance training per week. So resistance training in particular really has been shown to be highly effective at building muscle. And what do women north of 40 do? They start losing muscle.
And so to prevent that muscle loss, resistance training becomes more important as we age. It puts stress on the muscles, the body responds back by telling those muscles to grow bigger and stronger. Now, you’re not going to get like Arnold Schwarzenegger bigger, you’re just going to get a little bit bigger, defined and toned. And so there’s many ways you can introduce resistance training. It doesn’t mean you have to lift dumbbells. That is just one form. There are resistant bands.
There’s body weight exercises that I’ve demonstrated to women in Tone in 10 that they can do right from their own home. But you want to make sure that you’re hitting the largest muscle groups of the body, particularly the upper torso, which I find is an area that many women do not focus on enough. Now, of course, that’s a generalized statement. Some women really do focus on upper body strength.
But upper body strength is really what’s going to start helping with that posture, helping with that preventing of the craning of the neck as we’re all looking at our phones daily and looking on our computers daily and working and sitting at our desks daily. And so this form of exercise is found to be the most beneficial type of exercise as we age.
And one thing I want to know about any of these habits, but particularly this resistance training, I find a lot of women are initially resistant to it because it can feel daunting. It can feel overwhelming. It can feel like they don’t know how to use machines. And there are very simple exercises that you can do like I mentioned, just in the comfort of your own home, using your own body weight.
For example, a pushup is amazing and if you can’t do them on your toes, that’s fine, you can start on your knees. If you can’t do them on your knees, that’s fine, you can start pushing off of a wall. You can go the easiest route just to start to build up some of your muscle and then progress on when you are ready to other forms that are more challenging, that your muscles will then be ready for. The whole point though is that you just start.
And oftentimes going from 0% to even 1 or 2% is the biggest jump women have to make. And once they get started, then they’re fueled by momentum, then they’re fueled by some motivation, which comes. Because when you do resistance training or any form of exercise, really it starts to release positive endorphins and we feel better. So oftentimes it’s just sticking with something for that first week or two before our body then begins to crave it over time.
And remember, with your muscles, if we don’t use them, we lose them, they atrophy. Ask anybody that’s been in the hospital for a week and then they get out of bed or you cast your arm for six weeks and then you take it out of the cast. And your arm is noticeably smaller than the arm that wasn’t casted because if we’re not using the muscle, we know it atrophies and wastes away. And so exercise in the right form of exercise does matter.
We can do all the healthy eating, we could get the best sleep in the world, we can hydrate. But if we aren’t getting in proper forms of exercise, there’s no other way to bring back and stimulate that muscle and to keep it vibrant, moving, healthy and strong. And so that is one area that I have definitely changed my exercise regimen in 2023 and will plan to continue to evolve that more in 2024.
So as we wrap up this episode, I encourage you to think about these five healthy habits and pick one or two just to start so you’re not getting overwhelmed and commit. Commit to doing one or two things that are going to move the needle on your health and then you can always add in more as you get momentum in one area. Be willing to be a beginner in the beginning if any of this is new. You don’t have to do it for 30 minutes or an hour. You can just start, just start and listen to your body and do as much as it feels good.
I always say that starting something is most important and then we can fine tune it as we go on. And sometimes it helps to get started with somebody who is knowledgeable in this area. Maybe you have a trusted personal trainer, somebody you’ve used in the past and you feel comfortable and ready to embark upon that journey again. Or getting a coach that’s going to help you look at your lifestyle and make those small tweaks that are going to have a big difference and a compounding interest over time.
And so pick something from this episode and tell me how it’s going for you, what you’re picking and how it’s going. And I invite you to share that with me in our new private Facebook group. That private Facebook group is called Epic Living. And I’ll put a link to that Facebook group in the show notes. And I want you to come over there, join us and share with us one healthy habit that you are going to be implementing this month. Alright, my beautiful friend, great seeing you here today and I will see you next week.
Thanks for listening to the Health, Habits, and Epic Living podcast. If you are ready to take the next step to improve your health, wellness, and lifestyle goals, head over to www.epicyou.com to check out my programs and to sign up for my free newsletter. Again that’s E-P-I-C-Y-O-U.com.
Please note that the information in this podcast is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.