Revitalize Your Healthy Eating and Exercise Habits With This #1 Quick Fix
Are you looking to give your fitness and nutrition game a much-needed refresh? If so, I have some coveted tips to share. I revitalized my healthy eating and exercise habits, in addition to my sleep patterns, during an all-expenses-paid-for wellness retreat at Sensei Lāna'i, A Four Seasons Resort. This hidden gem in the mountains of Lāna'i, Hawaii taught me how to move, nourish, and rest my body with the assistance of wearable tech, and it improved my overall health and lifestyle habits forever.
Sensei offers an extensive variety of programs for guests to choose from, including the Optimal Wellbeing Program, which is what I participated in during the retreat. I was assigned a Sensei Guide with whom I set personalized health intentions. My Guide helped me establish boundaries around work versus home, solidify a morning stretch routine, sleep better, and get more energized during the day with well-balanced meals. She worked with me every step of the way throughout my wellness journey to revamp my healthy eating and exercise habits. At the end of my time at Sensei, she presented me with a custom Guide to Growth report. This information will be instrumental in helping me put into action (and stick to) the many wellness tricks I learned there and how to make them a lifestyle.
Take a walk with me through this life-changing experience and learn how to revitalize your own healthy eating and exercise habits, in addition to a better nighttime routine and improved sleep.
A health tracker helped me stay on top of my fitness, sleep, and recovery like my very own personal trainer
The Optimal Wellbeing Program was personalized for me through analysis, data-capturing, and health technology. I was equipped with a WHOOP 4.0 wearable strap that tracked my fitness, sleep, and recovery data before and during my stay at Sensei. Recovery is based on important biometrics such as your resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and sleep performance. My WHOOP band proved to be my best cheerleader and friend, keeping a close count on everything as I revitalized my healthy eating and exercise habits.
One of the things I found most interesting about the WHOOP band is it doesn't have a screen, which, if you've worn a health tracker before, you may also find surprising. The WHOOP tracks data while you're out and about or sleeping, and it is awesome! The reason being, you don't feel inclined to constantly check your stats, thereby feeling less stressed. When you do open up the app on your phone, you'll see real-time feedback on the next steps you can take to build better health habits.
In my case, this health tech was basically life-changing in so many ways. For example, it held me accountable for getting the proper amount of recovery after a day of completing several fitness classes, including Balance Basics, Tai Chi, and a personalized workout. It also took care of tracking all my stats so I was able to fully be in the moment during my fitness sessions.
Related: How I Learned To Slow Aging and Live Better on a Wellness Retreat
Breathing techniques helped me get into the right mindset to perform each workout
Typically, we don't think about how we breathe, because it naturally happens. But did you know that focusing on your breathwork at the end of a long, stressful day can really help you relax, and starting your day with deep breaths can set you up for mental and physical success?
During my personal workout session, I learned breathing exercises to start each morning workout with. They consist of 10 full-capacity, 3-dimensional breaths, going from the belly, to the chest, to the throat. It truly prepares your body for any workout. Practicing proper breathing throughout a workout gives your body more control and helps you maintain calmness and alertness for the entire session.
My WHOOP band tracked my average heart rate, resting heart rate, and the number of calories burned, revealing just how strenuous each day and workout was. It created a complete breakdown of how I exerted my body—for example, how many minutes I spent at what percentage of my max heart rate.
I learned how and why to create more balanced meals
Fueling the body with just the right foods goes hand-in-hand with getting active and recovering. In addition to dining like a queen during my time at Sensei, I had a nutrition 1:1 session, where I learned helpful tips and tricks on how to get more energy during the day through well-balanced meals.
The session stressed the importance of starting each day with a solid breakfast—that doesn't only consist of a carb-loaded bagel—to ensure I don't crash an hour later. I also learned how necessary it is to consume fiber (so I'm more satiated post-meals) and probiotics (to improve my microbiome), in addition to being mindful of filling 1/2 of my plate with veggies; 1/4 protein; and 1/4 carbohydrates. The favorite meal prep idea I learned was to establish a base for dinner bowls—wild rice and chicken, for example—and switch up the add-ins each night. One night can be a Mediterranean bowl, complete with homemade tzatziki sauce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. Another may be an Asian chicken bowl, which includes green onion, sesame seeds, coleslaw mix, and edamame.
As always, the WHOOP band had my back, consistently monitoring my stats in the background, coupled with my daily "journal" entries, where I tracked whether or not I ate all of my meals during daylight hours; how much caffeine I had; if I hydrated successfully; if I consumed dairy, fruits, vegetables, protein, and/or meat; etc.
Related: What Science Says About the Exercise Habits That Slow Aging
I started training my nervous system to sleep better
Getting solid sleep is so important to your overall health. It fuels you up for a productive workday and gives you the energy to work out. At times, I find it difficult to really unplug from my day, tune out the outside stress, and peacefully snooze into Dreamland. I'm also an incredibly light sleeper. So, during my time at Sensei, a couple of my goals consisted of 1. sleeping better and 2. learning how to switch off from work mode, since I work from home in my tiny city apartment. My Sensei Guide taught me several tools to achieve "resonance frequencies," which occur when both the mind and body (the rhythm of your heart and the rhythm of your breath) are in sync. When you're feeling stressed or anxious, you won't experience this rhythm. So, the end goal is to train your nervous system via several breathing tools.
While wearing the emWave2 device that tracked my heart rate, I learned how to "build waves," breathing in 4-5 seconds and out 5-6 seconds through my nose, keeping the process as consistent and comfortable as possible. I also tried "heart-focused breathing," where I concentrated on a "light" in my chest getting bigger on the inhale and smaller on the exhale. Lastly came the "moment of appreciation," where I visualized something that made me feel happy, calm, and at peace while I breathed. (Spoiler alert: I thought of my puppies, the cutest little munchkins of all time!) Come to find out (and to my surprise), I'm a really good breather and all three methods are quite effective in helping me find my zen.
My WHOOP band can attest to it—I slept really well while at Sensei, so I know adding these healthy habits to my normal routine at home will be very beneficial.