It never ceased to amaze me what our mother did every morning to get us ready for school.
Dad was the principal for the local Catholic grade school (grades 1-8), which we attended. He also taught seventh and eighth grades at the same time! He left early every morning and was the last to come home. We lived down a gravel road and the bus came to get us every morning, just a little before 7 a.m.
Mom prepared breakfast every morning, and we sat together eating it at our picnic-style kitchen table that Dad built. It had room to feed 10 and that was perfect with our large family.
Who remembers the first weeks of school? We would wake up, brush our teeth, shower if needed and get ready, all to sit with backpack loaded at the bottom of the long gravel driveway to hop on the bus sporting your best new pair of shoes, favorite new shirt and shorts to see all your friends back at school.
School, work, and all, we join once again in small spaces to learn, laugh and live with our amazing teaching leaders. Fall sports are already in full throttle. Sharing bathrooms, water fountains, hugs, handshakes, fist and chest bumps.
The camaraderie and germs are everywhere. We share them like wildfire spreads in a dry forest hopping from one person's nose and mouth to another's fingers or eyes. Breathing in each other's breaths. People, it's called "LIVING." Living every single day on the roller coaster of life. Enjoying each day as it comes, making memories and experiences that will form us into the adults we are today.
How do you live your best life? Here is a little throwback piece to pull out that wonderful little tool in our heads called common sense.
Number one, wash your hands for a minute each time before you eat, after the bathroom, after you eat, and after you work with others in close environments. Brush your teeth and gargle with salt water. That's easy, right? Do it. Kill the germs before they spread.
Let's hit the nail on the head and talk about what you can do to also prevent spread of sickness. It's about being proactive in your own health. Creating a body of armor that will stay strong when life knocks you down. This season is more important now than ever to eat nutrients, exercise, get proper sleep, and put aside time for mental health. Because when your immune system is strong, it's less likely to get sick. It's also less likely to have a long-lasting sickness. This means the heathier I am, the shorter and less dangerous the respiratory illness.
Consider talking to your doctor about Vitamin D supplementation. The days are getting shorter and our populations is outside less and less, which is likely to cause you to become Vitamin D deficient. When school begins, so does the daily 5,000 I.U. supplement of Vitamin D for our family of four with breakfast. Not only does Vitamin D deficiency contribute to loss of bone density and osteoporosis, but a deficiency may also result in a compromised immune system and symptoms of depression.
My favorite magical tip is to get moving! Exercise. Exercise is by far the number one legal drug that increases your quality of life. Exercising 5-6 hours a week will increase circulation, muscular strength, bone density, promote weight loss, and increase cardiovascular strength. Man, if you aren't taking this legal drug daily, you are missing out on the best way to fight respiratory illness, increase health, increase bone density, and fight chronic disease. This is as simple as hiking, walking, running, lifting weights, swimming or practicing stability and flexibility, like yoga or Pilates.
Eat nutrients. Eat sources of food that have high levels of minerals and vitamins like zinc, iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B. What types of foods have these? Chicken, beef, fish, spinach, colored peppers, onions, broccoli, squash, potatoes, berries, asparagus, mushrooms. If it grows from the ground, bake it, sauté it, steam it, eat it! And limit drinking soda, eating candy and processed sugars.
Sleep. If you say you only need 4-5 hours of sleep a night, you are the 1 percent of this world that that is true about. I stopped counting the number of people that tell me they don't need sleep, or they will sleep when they're dead, when I ask them how much emphasis they are putting in on their sleep.
"Sleep is the single most effective thing that you can do to reset your brain and body health," says Dr. Matthew Walker, sleep scientist. Do you know where "midnight" originated? Well, it used to be considered the middle of the night, not when you go to bed. The shorter you sleep, the shorter your quality of life. Memory declines, aging, and studies today now say even may increase risk for Alzheimer's.
So in the busy season, now is more important than ever to put our physical health first.
Our teachers, leaders, employers, and family want us all to stay healthy so we can continue to be productive members of society. Help them and help yourself to find the ways to get moving, invest in your nutrition, exercise, and sleep regimen to make this respiratory illness season your best season ever!
Maria Holee, is a Level 2 CrossFit Coach at Jefferson City CrossFit since 2012. CrossFit Gymnastics Certified. 2018 Zonta Woman of Achievement, and Grant Specialist in Quality Safety and Research at Missouri Hospital Association.