The COVID pandemic has taken a toll on our bodies and brains. After 18 months of being largely stuck at home and separated from loved ones, it’s been easy to give in to the temptation to snack and binge on comfort food. This has caused many people to pile on pounds as well as anxieties.
In her new book, Vibrant: A Groundbreaking Program to Get Energized, Own Your Health, and Glow (BenBella, 2021), Stacie Stephenson, DC, CNS, a recognized leader in functional medicine focused on integrative, regenerative and natural medicine modalities, examines how diet, exercise and a component many people don’t think about—mental health—come together to create a better sense of overall wellbeing. “The basis of the book is the Vibrant Triad. It consists of three points: what you eat, how you move (and how often), and how well you connect with others,” she says.
Here are some of Stephenson’s tips for taking a holistic lifestyle approach—minus doctors and drugs—to health.
Beginning a new diet or lifestyle shift can be an overwhelming task. Stephenson encourages people to begin slowly. “Start where you are, no matter your current health state, and make gradual, incremental shifts in habits that will have big impacts over time,” she says. Not only will this help achieve better results, but it will also reduce the always-stressful process of change.
Start with You
There isn’t one diet that is right for everyone. In general, Stephenson recommends sticking to “fresh, real food, with a heavy emphasis on vegetables, seafood, healthy fats, low-sugar fruits, and savoring rather than overeating food.” That being said, you may need to try a few different eating plans to determine what works best for your body and lifestyle. “Listen to the signals and signs from your body to determine how to live and what is healthy for you. Learn about your body and how it works so you are more aware of what is going on and what you can do about it.”
Don’t Go It Alone
“One thing that surprises people (about my plan) is the emphasis on relationships,” says Stephenson. “People often forget that how you connect with others is just as important as what you eat and how much you exercise. In fact, you might eat perfectly and exercise daily, but if you don’t have people you can count on, and who make you feel loved and valued, health can still elude you.” Beyond the basics of food and exercise, focus on building healthy and nourishing connections with other people.