moving your body: the starter guide

Growing up and maturing is challenging on a bunch of fronts—learning how to budget your finances, apartment hunting, nurturing relationships—so it’s sometimes easy to neglect one of your most basic responsibilities: taking care of your body. That’s right, some good ol’ TLC. We need TLC like the Tin Man needs his oil refuels. But keep in mind that caring for your body as it ages doesn’t have to be hard! Think of it as an opportunity to learn to love yourself in a whole new way.

We don’t know exactly what kind of TLC your body is craving, but we do believe that moving your body can help you figure it out. So we put together some ideas and resources to get you started.

BEING ACTIVE AS SELF-CARE

Our bodies influence how we feel both mentally and physically, and so it comes as no surprise that exercise is often the missing key when we’re feeling off. According to the CDC, fewer than 40 percent of  women in the U.S. engage in its recommended amount of physical activity, and over 25 percent reported not being active at all. “The more active you are, the better,” Dr. Joyce Meng said.

GOOD NEWS: ACtivity CAN BE SIMPLE

Even if it’s just walking for 30 minutes a day, exercise bolsters heart health, builds muscle and bone strength, and prevents other health issues like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Start small and try getting creative with your exercise. “If you're busy, try short bursts of activity throughout the day,” Meng said. Park at the back of the parking lot and take the stairs, or walk a lap around the office during your break.

Getting active with intention won’t just empower you to improve your health—it’ll also allow you to identify what it is your body really needs. Are you experiencing unusual soreness? Have you let that pain in your neck go unchecked for too long? Are you ready to challenge your daily habits and make progress that you can see and feel?

Resources for taking care

Here are a few ideas about how to stay active and conscious about your body health. Check out the links below!


Boosting your energy: The Starter Guide

Let’s get one thing straight: We at Do The Good Stuff love coffee just as much as the next girl. And so, yeah, it can be hard to reconcile that love with the fact that coffee—as great as it is—isn’t the solution for all of our low-energy issues. In some cases, the temporary, mental boost we experience from a strong cup (or two… or three) can distract us from getting to the center of our energy deficits. Learn more about natural energy boosters and avoid the midday crash with some of these helpful tips and resources.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

If you’ve been feeling drained lately, you’re not alone. Fatigue has become normalized among women—and accepted as a byproduct of a busy lifestyle, according to dietitian Dina Aronson. Many factors can contribute to low energy, especially something as ubiquitous as stress. “Chronic stress is one factor that folks overlook,” Aronson said. “Many don't realize how important stress is in affecting our energy levels.”

THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO BOOST ENERGY NATURALLY

The good news is that there are many ways to naturally boost energy. Light exercise, power naps, and eating several small, healthy meals throughout the day are a few Aronson suggests. The best way to beat your fatigue is to figure out what’s tiring you in the first place.

CONSIDER WHAT'S DRAINING YOU:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Not enough water
  • Lack of fueling food
  • Vitamin/mineral deficiency
  • Too much caffeine
  • Not enough exercise
  • Doing too much
  • Stress

Resources for boosting energy

To prevent your energy crash, check out our article to help figure out what’s draining you.


Improving Gut Health: The starter guide

These days, it seems like you can’t escape the endless reminders about the importance of gut health—how the gut apparently leaks, knowing differences between “good” and “bad” bacteria… the list goes on. So, sure, we buy the $5 kombucha and cross our fingers that we’re doing it right. But the truth is, taking the time to actually learn about our gut and the various roles it plays—beyond giving us grief for binging cheese and cheap wine—can save you the stomachache and allow you to take gut health into your own hands. Figuratively speaking, of course.

We don’t know what’s going on with your gut, but we do know that some solid info and tips can be a good place to start when it comes to working toward better gut health. So we put that together for you here!

GUT HEALTH IS MORE THAN JUST DIGESTION

When it comes to gut health, there’s much more to it than just digestion. Sure, the gut is in charge of breaking down food into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth, and cell repair. However, there’s a reason they call the gut the “second brain.” Did you know that over 95 percent of your body’s serotonin, and 50 percent of its dopamine, is found in your gut? If you’re feeling more moody or stressed than usual, it could indicate an imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut, causing a lack of “happy” neurotransmitters.

STRESS AND YOUR GUT… UGH

It turns out that stress can be both the cause and outcome of poor gut health. “The brain and gut communicate,” gastroenterologist Dr. Darrell Gray said. "Anxiety and stress can manifest as symptoms impacting the digestive system." Try picking up some habits that can lower stress, including yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy, and extra sleep. In addition to managing stress levels, eating natural, unprocessed foods is one of the best ways to rebalance the levels of healthy bacteria in your gut. “Eating clean foods your body was designed to process is an easy way to help reduce, or possibly eliminate, digestive issues,” nutritionist Michelle Blum said.

Resources for YOUR GUT

For more resources on getting your gut healthy, check out our articles below.


Taking Control: My Sexual Health

Whether you’re a sex novice or an experienced partner, it’s always a good idea to check in with yourself and rediscover what feels good, safe, and empowering for you. Let’s be real: Determining what’s best for you will be an ongoing process—with plenty of trial-and-error. But before you delve into the latest issue of Cosmo or mass text your friends for guidance, it’s important to realize that there are no one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to sex.

It is, however, important to ask yourself questions about what’s really right for you—and so with that in mind, we put together some thoughts and resources to help guide you as you figure out what makes you feel most safe and supported throughout this process.

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX

Sexual health encompasses your physical, mental, and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. How you feel mentally and emotionally about your sexuality is just as important as how you feel physically during sex. “However, other things can impact our sexual and reproductive health such as illness and emotion,” Dr. Charles E. Runels said. “Promoting sexual health and the responsibility for it requires open and honest discussion.”

YOUR PLEASURE AND SAFETY DEPEND ON IT

According to OB-GYN Dr. Sheryl Ross, women are not talking about their sexual health or making it a priority. A staggering 10 to 15 percent of women have never had an orgasm, and, according to the CDC, one-in-two sexually active people will contract an STI by age 25. If you don’t know where to start, try researching online and then consult your OB-GYN for further advice. Investing in your sexual health is just as important as nutrition and exercise, so don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and be vocal about your questions and concerns.

Resources for YOUR Sexual Health

For more resources on getting your gut healthy, check out our articles below.


Image: Mary Purdie / @drawnbymary

FOCUSING ON: MY REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

For a lot of us, the sex ed lectures we had to sit through in high school offered a pretty limited (if not misleading) overview of reproductive health—and what we need to do to maintain it. Your reproductive health is about so much more than just having babies, how to avoid having babies, or worrying about when the notorious “biological clock” will stop ticking. (We have some thoughts about that clock, by the way, but we’ll save that for another time.)

Learning the facts about your reproductive health can save you a lot of needless worry. It’s also a central feature of our overall health, so those lessons will ultimately serve you in more ways than one. We compiled some thoughts and resources so you can become one with your reproductive health and develop better awareness about whether something might be off. Take a look!

KNOW YOUR OWN NORMAL

When it comes to reproductive health, most people probably think of periods, pregnancy, and prevention. From the onset of puberty, women are tasked with menstrual cycles, hormonal mood swings, and protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies and STIs. According to NPR, the U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, with 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. There’s a lot going on in there, and a lot that can go wrong, so it’s important to know your own cycles and reproductive “normal” in order to figure out when something is wrong and learn how to advocate for yourself.

PAY ATTENTION AND TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL

If you’re experiencing any abnormal symptoms such as irregular periods, extremely painful cramping, or if you’re curious about freezing your eggs for the future, make sure to visit your gynecologist. They can help you assess any underlying medical issues and provide advice for taking care of your reproductive system.

Resources for YOUR reproductive Health

For more resources on reproductive health, check out our articles below. 


MANAGING MY STRESS: THE STARTER GUIDE

Raise your hand if you’re a hardworking individual who feels fully devoid of stress. Anybody? No takers? Of course not! That’s because stress is a natural response to the pressures of day-to-day life—and it’s totally OK. But we’re here to help. Instead of carrying your stress around and letting it control you, let us give you some tips on how to manage stress. 

Nobody is their best self when they’re stressed out to the max. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways that we can integrate stress management techniques into our daily routines. That way, we can continue accomplishing the big, badass things we set out to do while still taking care of ourselves. 

YEAH, WE’RE STRESSED

Stress can be both our aide and enemy. It can be helpful when we need a push through to get something done, but if it gets out of control, it only wears us down. If you find yourself stressing out more often than usual, you’re not alone. According to a study at the University of Cambridge, women are nearly twice as stressed as men, and we’re more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress.

TRY A FEW TECHNIQUES

If this sounds like you, try walking it out. It’s easy to get caught up in our busy lives, but even a quick walk will induce the production of neurotransmitters called endorphins, which will naturally ease your worries. In addition to exercise, practicing positivity, gratitude, and breathing techniques can help relieve stress. If you can’t pinpoint the source of ongoing stress, seeking medical advice from your primary care doctor might be the solution. Your doctor can help you figure out if there’s an underlying medical cause and provide coping mechanisms for combating stress in the future.

Resources for managing stress

For more resources on managing stress, check out our articles below.


GETTING BETTER SLEEP: THE STARTER GUIDE

Remember how much you loathed bedtime when you were a kid? I don’t know about you, but I’d give a lot to get back to those days—when going to bed was a chore and staying asleep was a breeze. How do we get back to those days, though? Especially considering how pivotal healthy sleeping habits are to our overall health. 

The answer is going to be different for everybody, but we’ve got some useful pointers to help guide you in the right direction. You can get back to that place—to an extent—but it’s going to take some work and maybe some new tools you haven’t thought of before. We’re here to help. 

BRAIN AND BEAUTY SLEEP

Have you been struggling to get a solid night of sleep? Well, you’re not alone. Women not only need 20 more minutes of sleep a night compared to men, we also average only six-and-a-half hours of shut-eye a night during the work week—paling in comparison to the seven-to-nine hours we really need. There’s a reason they call it beauty sleep. Sleep not only fends off under-eye bags, it also improves memory, spurs creativity, increases your lifespan, lowers stress, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

TRY A FEW TECHNIQUES

If you’re not sleeping well, try establishing a regular bedtime routine. Find relaxing products and activities that help you wind down before bed and make sure to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. If your lack of sleep becomes a persistent problem, you might want to see a sleep specialist. With their help, you’ll be able to figure out if you have an underlying sleep disorder, or just need some techniques to get to sleep.

Resources for better sleep

For more resources on getting better sleep, check out our articles below.


PERSONAL WELLNESS: THE STARTER GUIDE

If there was a roadmap to caring for our bodies, then trust us: We’d be following it step-by-step. But the truth is, there are no simple solutions when it comes to individual wellness. It can be a messy, confusing process that evolves with every unexpected turn on our life’s path. We have to pay attention to our bodies, trust our intuitions, and then be sure to advocate for what it is we really need.

Do The Good Stuff put together some thoughts, tips, and resources to help you do just that when you feel off, or just want to feel better.

I JUST FEEL WEIRD, OKAY?

Are you feeling off lately? Something is wrong, but you just can’t pinpoint it? If that’s the case, it might be time for some self-reflection. Are your emotions out of whack or you can’t think clearly? Are you feeling unproductive or physically run down? Feeling off can mean something different to everyone, so figure out first what’s lacking in your particular situation so that you can focus on rebalancing yourself.

PULL YOURSELF OUT OF THE FUNK

To pull yourself out of this funk, try a bubble bath, eat a new food, go on a walk, see a movie, read a new book, talk to a friend, and—above all—be loving to yourself. If all else fails, try reaching out to your primary care doctor to rule out any medical issues such as depression.

RESOURCES FOR JUST FEELING BETTER

For more tips on improving your overall wellness, check out our articles below.