Chasing perfection is so common among women it’s almost like it’s its own epidemic. Perfect hair, perfect body size, perfect house, perfect parenting skills and perfect job performance… This chase for perfection is not only impossible but also extremely detrimental to our mental, physical and emotional health!
I’m here to share with you that you ARE perfect, just as you are. You are beautiful, smart and, given that you are even reading this blogpost, committed to living the healthiest life you can live. We’re all in this together!
Below, I’ve shared seven ways you can take control of your health based on current science and cutting-edge research, instead of striving for an impossible (and unhealthy) idea of perfection. This research has to do with the biological process of autophagy, something you may not have had heard of so let me quickly explain what that means before getting to its implementation.
Autophagy: A Cleanup Process
Autophagy is a natural cleansing process on a cellular level. Fascinating research shows how environmental toxins over time accumulate in your cells, making it difficult for your body to keep up (think of trying to keep a house clean while also juggling a million other responsibilities-you need some help!). This accumulation leads to damage and accelerated aging like skin damage, cancers and neurodegenerative diseases (such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease).
Autophagy is the process that allows your body to effectively clear this waste, which (on the flip side) leads to longevity and a slowed (or even reversed) aging process. However, the on/off switch for autophagy comes from diet and lifestyle changes, and that’s where the following actions come in!
7 Ways to Activate Autophagy Starting Today
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Studies show that short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief rest periods will burn more fat and calories, and increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR), meaning you’ll burn more calories while at rest. As if this weren’t enough, HIIT is also an excellent (healthy) stressor that activates autophagy, and it only requires two, 30-minute sessions per week!
- Resistance Exercise Training (RET)
On the topic of exercise, the other key component of my Glow15 workout plan (outlined in my book) is resistance training. Resistance training can be anything where you are pushing or fighting against a force in order to work your muscles and could include weight lifting, bodyweight exercises, using simple household items for added weight (think cans and gallons of water), or even yoga and Pilates!
RET also raises your RMR, as muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Studies show that resistance training activates autophagy and helps prevent the loss of muscle mass while improving muscle strength. Not to mention, you’ll get those lean, sexy muscles you’ve always wanted. Yes, please!
- Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Autophagy supports your body’s innate ability to repair itself (the most effective cleansing method in existence), and reducing inflammation is one big part of this puzzle. Systemic inflammation (rather than acute, normal inflammation in response to an infection, for example) is thought to be at the root of many degenerative diseases; so cutting out inflammatory foods is first and foremost.
Common examples of inflammatory foods include white bread and pastas, commercial baked goods (pastries, cakes, cookies, muffins, etc.), refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and rancid oils. If a packaged food has a long list of ingredients with names you can barely pronounce, it’s probably best to skip it!
- Include Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Glow15 is not about elimination; it’s about embracing a variety of delicious and anti-inflammatory foods! Examples include myriad vegetables and fruits (lots of non-starchy, green and colorful veggies), healthy fats like avocado, raw nuts and seeds and nourishing oils (avocado, walnut, coconut, olive, etc.), protein sources such as grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and wild fish and eggs. My book focuses on foods rich in polyphenols, omega-3’s, vitamins C, D, E and K, along with probiotics and other key nutrients for activating autophagy.
- Learn to Manage Chronic Stress
Stress isn’t necessarily bad, but chronic (long-term) stress that has us always in “go-go-go” mode takes a major toll on our health. Over time, this type of stress wears down our cells, causing damage that results in aging such as wrinkles, weight gain and disease. Take a look at your sources of stress, and truly consider which ones could be eliminated. If none can (or even if they all can), incorporating stress-relieving practices can work wonders, such as meditation, gentle yoga or even 10 minutes of deep, belly breathing. Your health depends on it!
- Get in Your Polyphenols
My favorite and most important source of autophagy-activating nutrients come in the form of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that protect us from free radical damage. These crucial nutrients can come in the form of both foods and supplements, and you can even get them from indulging in a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate. Sound too good to be true? Yep, I thought so too!
- Consider Intermittent Fasting and Protein Cycling
Last but certainly not least, Glow15 will walk you through implementing a simple intermittent fasting (IF) and protein cycling (PC) plan to optimize autophagy. IF is a practice of shifting between periods of eating and periods of not eating, and it a key activator of autophagy. The primary reason for this is because IF activates glucagon, which works in opposition to insulin to maintain balanced blood glucose levels. PC is the practice of alternating between periods of low and normal to high protein consumption, and works hand in hand with IF to activate autophagy. On my Glow 15 plan, you’ll limit your protein intake on the same three days you practice IF, and other days you’ll be eating normal to high amounts of protein.
Instead of chasing perfection (because remember, you already are perfect, flaws and all), focus that energy on activating autophagy, as this is something you can control and use to achieve better health, the body you’ve always wanted, and a longer life. Get Glowing!