Photo courtesy of Dr. Frank Lipman
You’re probably eating more sugar than you realize.
The nutrition section of How to Be Well is by far the biggest part of the book, and Lipman covers everything from intermittent fasting to gluten sensitivity, but he describes sugar as “public health enemy number one” and “the worst toxin we expose ourselves to daily.” It causes inflammation, leads to insulin resistance, and may play a role in a number of other health problems. Lipman advises us all to keep track of all the sugar we consume—in everything from protein bars and granola to sports drinks and spaghetti sauce—and then start cutting it out. In time, you can retrain your taste buds to crave less of it.
Daytime light is super important for sleep at night.
Lipman dedicates a good chunk of the sleep chapter to how to reset your body clock according to the rhythm of the sun. There are ways to take advantage of daylight and then maximize darkness at bedtime so you naturally have more energy during the day and easily drift off to sleep at night. Simple things like a going for morning walk outside, taking care of big tasks before sunset, wearing bluelight-blocking glasses and using a low-wattage night light in your bathroom can add up.
Focus on movement rather than exercise.
Working out can seem like a daunting task if it’s not part of your regular routine, but it’s vital to our well-being and you can ease into adding more movement to your everyday tasks. First, you need to figure out what types of movement you enjoy. It may be a barre class or a streaming HIIT video, but it doesn’t have to be so formal. Lipman suggests finding opportunities to walk more—parking the car a few blocks from where you need to go, pacing while you chat on the phone or even scheduling time for a stroll with a friend. When you’re ready to kick things up a notch, he provides a few workouts you can do at home—and how to use a foam roller to help muscles recover.
Think twice about the chemicals you expose yourself to.
Lipman talks a lot about the different chemicals we come in contact with all the time—in our food, cosmetics and household cleaners—and how to steer clear of them to protect our bodies and lower our risk of developing health problems. While it’s probably not feasible for the average person to avoid EVERYTHING he mentions, the beauty of his book is that you can pick and choose what tips you take to heart in your daily routine. His main point is that you should be aware of what’s out there and what can have an impact on your health so you can then make more informed decisions about what you expose yourself and your family to.
“Me” time is crucial.
Our lives are busy and stressful, and if we don’t make an effort to unwind and recover, that stress can be detrimental to our health. It hurts our sleep, our eating habits and our immunity. The good news is that there are many different ways to destress and Lipman gives an overview of a bunch of them and the science behind why they work. Whether your thing is belly breathing, meditation, massages, yoga or a hobby like quilting, there’s something out there to help you alleviate everyday pressures. He also provides instructions for how to use a tennis ball to relieve tension under your foot—which can be done in just ten minutes sitting at your desk or on the couch while you watch tv.
Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with others.
The topic of loneliness has gotten a lot of press lately, and for good reason. In a time when technology makes it’s easy to separate ourselves from each other, the real relationships we have with people (and pets!) are what lift us up and bring meaning to our lives. Lipman gives tons of ideas to enhance your connection to the world around you—spending time in nature, eating lunch with colleagues, volunteering at animal shelters, being a better friend, and even journaling—in the hope that enhancing your connections will boost your confidence, help those around you and in return improve your well-being.