This is the first of a 12-part series titled “Baby Steps.” On the first of each month, I’ll post 1 tiny step toward better health that you can take every day for that month – practically without trying. Soon, that tiny step will be part of your daily routine, and you won’t even remember you never did it before. The next month, add the next baby step. By the end of 2016, you’ll have accumulated 12 new healthy habits, and you’ll notice a difference – not day to day, perhaps, but definitely between any before and after photos you might take and any journal entries you might make. Check in during each month with a comment below and/or on Facebook – I’d love to hear about your progress!
There are a lot of ways we can start our day – with a shot of espresso, a cup of tea, a glass of water, a green smoothie….
What do I recommend? None of the above!
Baby Step #1: For the next month, try to make either a glass of lemon water or some diluted apple cider vinegar the very first thing to hit your stomach in the morning.
- Squeeze ¼ – ½ of a lemon into 1 cup of water (best if room temperature or warmer but not hot) and drink it all at once. If you are not a morning person, make it easier on yourself by cutting a lemon into quarters and storing it in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge – it will easily last up to 4 days. To protect your tooth enamel, be sure to dilute the lemon juice and brush your teeth after drinking.
- Add 1 T of unfiltered apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water (again, best if room temperature or warmer but not hot) and drink it all at once. Make sure that it is unfiltered (Bragg’s is a widely available brand that I recommend).
After drinking either mixture, wait 20-30 minutes before eating or drinking anything else but water.
Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are considered to be alkalinizing, which is odd since given their sour taste, we assume they are acidic. They are foods that restore the pH balance in our systems, which can become too acidic if we eat a lot of animal products, refined sugars, processed foods, and harmful fats. Overly acidic conditions are thought to contribute to many chronic diseases and often go hand in hand with inflammation.
There are many benefits to alkalinizing our bodies and reducing inflammation, and taking lemon water and/or apple cider vinegar can be one of the least expensive and simplest ways to start the process.
Want to really make this a habit? Keep a journal of how you feel over the course of the month – what do you notice changing?
A few things you might notice if you are diligent with this practice – some of these I experienced personally, others have been reported to me by clients and fellow health coaches:
- Improved digestion – especially for those who suffer from mild constipation, this morning “shot” really helps to get your bowels moving first thing in the morning.
- Clearer skin – lemon water in particular has detoxifying effects, and starting your day with a glass of water immediately boosts your hydration after sleep.
- Stronger immunity – you may notice that you are the one at the office who seems to avoid every cold and flu that comes around. Lemon juice contains high levels of Vitamin C, and apple cider vinegar is a fermented food, which has been shown to increase the strength of the gut lining, keeping pathogens out of our system.
- More stable blood sugar levels – if you are diabetic, apple cider vinegar may help you keep your numbers more level – but please be sure to check with your doctor before starting to drink apple cider vinegar.
- More energy – if you are trying to give up coffee, these two drinks can help ease the withdrawal symptoms and give you the boost of energy you used to get from caffeine.
- Weight loss – there may be several explanations for this: both mixtures appear to act as natural diuretics, so you shed water weight; because you’re starting your day by filling part of your stomach with water, you’re likely to be less hungry after not eating all night; by not starting your day with something sweet, you’re less likely to crave sweets during the day – this may sound odd, but I speak from experience!
Remember – this is just a tiny tweak to your lifestyle, so the changes may not be perceptible at first. Don’t stop just because no miracles occurred after a few days!
That was easy, right? Check back on February 1st for Baby Step #2!