It’s overwhelming in today’s society to know what is the best way to live a healthy life without giving years of research towards a degree in health and fitness or masters in nutrition science. There are so many media ads, blogs, and mail promoting the best foods to lose weight, shakes to build muscles, miracle diet pills, and exercise devices I don’t even want to talk about.
There are even crazy fitness programs like cardoke (karaoke spin class), underwater pole dancing (sounds exhausting) and naked yoga (not even going there), just to name a few, all of which strive for better health and may actually work for many people.
Bottom line is to know what works best for you, your mind, body, and lifestyle. I am not an expert by far in the area of health and fitness, however in my 50+ years, I think I’ve learned a few things by trial and error. Most of my life has been pretty active either as a participant or a teacher in a variety of sports and fitness programs. I have tried too many fad diets to mention, and I have read many books and articles about the health benefits of food and nutrition. As a result, I do feel there are 5 rules of thumb to overall healthy living:
– Get regular check-ups and preventative screenings. No one really likes to go to the doctor, much less get that colonoscopy or blood test, but just put on your big boy/girl pants and do it. The goal is to know what is going on with your body so you can react early.
– Exercise. Doing something you enjoy (and is safe). Make sure it is an exercise that is realistic to your goals and that you actually enjoy (too strong of a word?) Ok, at least something you are willing to do on a regular basis. Get a trainer or exercise with a friend for motivation and accountability if that helps. It makes the time go by faster as well.
– Eat healthy. Preservatives are put in our food for longer shelf life and to enhance the taste and even make addictive. A way around this is to substitute with fresher foods. Yes, this does require a little more planning and organization:
o Prep food ahead of time for the week.
o Have food delivered if you cannot get to the store.
o There are more organic choices readily available at local markets, just know where they are. If you do eat out a lot, look up the ingredients of the meals you like.
o Read labels and if you don’t know what Azodicarbonamide or Propylene glycol are, look it up! (By the way, they are found on the top 50 Food Ingredients to Avoid.)
o Lessen the processed sugar. I cannot stress this enough. I don’t give up all my desserts, but I’ll ‘split’ one at the restaurant, or choose something heathier. If you always need to have something “sweet”, find substitutes, like berries with Greek yogurt or even organic grapefruit juice, which curbs those cravings for me!
– Eat in moderation: We live in an area of supersizes which can play with that mental balance of getting the most for your money, but many times at the expense of good nutrition. We, as a society, tend to overeat because things taste good and we don’t want to waste. There are great food services like Blue Apron, Gobble, etc. that deliver to your doorstep organic meals … yes to cook, but already portioned and prepped at a flexible, moderately-priced meal plan. In my busy calendar, I schedule time to cook a couple times a week with a very nice glass of wine.
– Relax: This is a tough one for most of us. Work, bills, kids, parents, school, traffic, laundry, deadlines, renovations, personal challenges … ALL contribute to stress. Find that thing that provides relaxation and give it space on your calendar on a regular basis. Whether it’s playing with your kids (while the laundry sits), having a glass of wine … away from the kids (ha, ha just kidding), Bikram or even naked yoga (crosses over into exercise – good job!), snuggling with loved ones on the couch (pets definitely included), getting your hands dirty while weeding your garden, closing your eyes and listening to Deuter Radio, watching and breathing in the ocean waves, or just laughing, laughing and laughing at your favorite comedic performance. Whatever it is, give yourself time to truly relax.
Healthy living is defined as “the practice of health enhancing behaviors, or simply put, living in healthy ways”. Society wants us to believe that healthy living is completing a highly athletic challenge or starving oneself to fit into a certain size. I too had followed those beliefs. However, over the years I’ve personally discovered I feel my best by being aware of what goes into my body, what I do with my body, as well as relaxing my mind and body which has lead me to better health and a happier life.