That includes things like fad diets and exercise routines, miracle cures, instant muscle-makers and “transform yourself overnight” promises — in other words, the stuff that reliably sells many other health and fitness magazines on the newsstand these days.
Still, there are a few quick-fix solutions that I think deserve a little more attention than they typically get, and in honor of this issue’s “Let the Healing Begin” theme, I’ll offer them up here.
1) Move Your Body
I’m not going to wax enthusiastic about a workout regimen that promises to make six-pack abs or buns of steel appear overnight. But I will sing the praises of simply picking your body up off whatever furniture it happens to be draped or hunched over (and yes, that includes your desk) and just moving it around a bit. Simply going on a 10–minute walk or getting up to stretch occasionally can do wonders for your energy level, your circulation and your state of mind.
If you don’t believe me, try this experiment: If you usually sit at your desk all day, try — for one day only — setting a watch, clock or computer timer that reminds you to get out of your chair once an hour to do just one minute of any activity. It might be pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, kettlebell swings, a favorite yoga pose, a couple of stretches or even just deep breathing.
Afterward, drink a little water, refocus your mind on your work and go back to whatever you were doing. I’m guessing (thanks in part to the circulatory, oxygenating, hormonal and neurochemical effects of exercise, some of which are detailed in “How Exercise Heals”), you’ll end your day feeling better and more energized than you have in a long time.
If so, you might consider turning the experiment into a regular routine. Too busy? Trust me: The combined eight minutes you spend in an average workday will pay you back many times over in increased productivity.
2) Eat a Fresh, Whole Food
Energy bars, dried snacks and nutritional supplements all have their place in a busy person’s eating regimen, but they can’t take the place of foods consumed just as nature presented them. To be sure, the super-synergistic combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, pure water, fiber and phytonutrients (see “Phyto Power” in this issue) found in fresh fruits and vegetables cannot be beat. But my favorite thing about fresh foods is their near-immediate power to satisfy and reset our senses.
To demonstrate the point, try this: Next time you’re about to eat or drink something less than healthy (or go grocery shopping hungry), try peeling, smelling and eating an orange first. Let the fresh smell and flavor of the orange (or apple or cucumber — whatever fragrant fruit or veggie you like best) really “land,” and notice the shift that occurs as the sensory and nutritional information coded in the food almost instantly reprograms your cravings.
3) Open Your Heart
I would be remiss if I let this Thanksgiving-season issue go by without some mention of the power of gratitude. There is perhaps no faster way to upgrade your sense of vitality than to consciously focus your attention on something that makes you feel lucky, happy or appreciative, and then allow your heart to stretch around the expansive feeling that results.
You may notice that the things that were bugging you suddenly seem a whole lot less important. You may notice that people around you suddenly start responding more receptively. And best of all — just as with exercise and fresh food — between the activation of feel-good brain sectors, the healing peptides that get released into your bloodstream, and the rush of other good stuff that pervades your body, heart and mind, the tangible health benefits are myriad.
I realize that none of this is revolutionary or sexy advice. It’s not the kind of thing that sells big on the newsstand. Still, it’s my hope that, in the spirit of experimentation, you’ll give at least one of these quick-fix solutions a try. You might be surprised by how powerful “simple” can be.