Did you know that ‘green’ living can benefit both the environment and your health? I love a great 2-4-1 deal! Don’t you?! Thanks to my involvement with the American Heart Association, I learned that eco-friendly behaviors –including aspects of exercise and nutrition — help to maintain optimal heart health which, in turn, decreases one’s carbon footprint.
A carbon footprint is the measure of impact that activities have on the environment. Additionally, I’ve come to understand that my efforts to go green have direct impact on not only my physical wellbeing but also my mental health. In honor of Earth Day and Earth Month, I’d like to share some tips spotlighting how I personally go green… aka my conscious efforts to support Mother Nature and another Mama (me), too! I invite you to join me in these efforts:
- Play ‘Go Fish’ repeatedly! Individuals consuming a diet high in meat consumption create greater CO2 emissions compared to those sustaining a diet comprised of fish and greens. And, of course, large portions of red meat can increase your waistband.
- Be handy! Since a measuring cup may not always be accessible, especially while dining out, use your hand as a visual guide to monitor portion control. For example, a protein serving (such as fish, meat or tofu) is 3 to 4 ounces or the size of your palm; and a cup of cereal equates to a fist size.
- Add color to your plate. Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and are low in calories. Thus, eating a variety of produce may help to control weight and blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Because I have a heart condition and a family history of cardiovascular disease, preparing rainbow inspired meals is a personal priority. And growing your own or purchasing locally-sourced selections can cost less — financially and footprint related (decreased packaging / processing). Plus, multiple research studies indicate that gardening can reduce stress and depression symptoms, while boosting muscle strength, mental clarity and a sense of accomplishment.
- Skip the fat, take a walk. Driving to a fast food establishment rather than preparing meals at home increases your consumption of calories and usage of vehicle fuel. Instead, control portion size and calorie intake at home and, then, save on mileage by taking a walk after your meal. Research has shown that you can gain about two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise that you do. Yup, that’s another great 2-4-1 deal!
- Know that seeing is believing. The great outdoors offers simulation for the mind, body and soul. Mother Nature entices all the senses: The smell of florals, the sounds of birds chirping and swaying trees, the feeling of the sun’s rays on your skin, the taste of crisp air and the glorious sights of greenery all around. For me, nature is my happy place. I can literally feel my anxiety melt away when hiking amidst a forest green trail or splashing about in the seafoam green ocean. And, perhaps, the hues themselves play a part. According to color therapists, the color green may help combat depression. Green may support one’s balance, love and acceptance. And blue, like that of Mother Nature’s waves, may steady breathing and/or the heart-rate and eliminate toxins. A blue hue can aid communication, honesty and calmness.
- Recycle & use reusable products. Spend less money on trash bags (and help the environment) simply by using recycle bins for approved items like cans, newspapers, etc. Opting for a reusable water canister instead of a plastic bottle decreases your waste and reminds you to sip water throughout the day to positively impact your digestion, hydration and more.
I know plenty of green-machines… loved ones growing the majority of their produce, composting and employing energy efficiency efforts. I’m a bit green with envy of such eco-lifestyle successes. Kermit the Frog famously said, “It ain’t easy being green.” But give yourself the green light to start trying!
Nancy DeVault is an award-winning writer/editor contributing to local and national publications. Her storytelling spans a wide range of topics, including charity, disability, food, health, lifestyle, parenting, relationships and travel. Married with two kiddos, Nancy describes herself as a lover of the outdoors, fitness, news, traveling and binge reading magazines while sipping coffee.