How would you rate your general health on a scale of 1 to 10?
Now let’s get a little more specific and rate you’re eating habits, your exercise level, your daily intake of water, your quality of sleep? Developing a healthy lifestyle and maintaining it can be challenging in a world that offers a plethora of unhealthy choices. However challenging making healthier lifestyle choices for you and your family can have a huge impact on your quality of life.
A Healthy Body
Think of your body as the vehicle that is going to ride you through life and it’s your job to maintain that vehicle throughout your lifespan because you are only going to get one. There are no trade-ins. The body is an amazing, amazing piece of engineering and can take a lot of abuse and keep on running, but as with anything continuously making unhealthy lifestyle choices is going to wear your body out more quickly.
Keeping your body and mind healthy encompasses much more than eating and exercising. It’s also about having a healthy self-image and making healthy lifestyle choices. The choices that we make every day have a significant impact on our mental and physical health. Some of our choices are conscious, while some of them are unconscious but when it comes to our health they all impact our lives.
Here are some no-brainer tips and perhaps some timely reminders that will help you to lead a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Drink More Water
Very few of us actually drink the recommended amount of water we need every day, but lack of water in our system has a variety of negative effects. We need water to carry out normal body functions like removing waste through our systems and carrying needed nutrients and oxygen around the body. Because we lose water every day through urine, bowel movements, perspiration and breathing it is important to replenish our water intake.
Bring a water bottle when you go out. That way, you can replenish your fluids whenever you want to. It saves you money as well and you don’t need to subject yourself to poor alternatives like soda. A little known fact is that drinking appropriate amounts of water actually aids the body in weight loss. A study done on overweight and obese people by Health.com showed that people who drank 8 or more 8 ounce glasses of water a day lost 4.5 more pounds than their counterparts who drank less water.
If you are wondering how you know if you’re hydrated, check your urine. It should be colorless or slightly yellow. If it’s dark yellow, you’re not getting enough water! Other signs of dehydration include: Dry lips, dry mouth.
Get a Good Night Sleep
Studies show what if you don’t sleep well, you will most likely compensate by eating more. Getting enough rest can help you stave off the snack cravings.
Meditation quietens your mind and calms your soul. Meditation is becoming a much more mainstream practice and can provide your body with rest that is deeper than sleep. Meditating for 20 minutes equates to a 1.5 hour nap, without a “sleep hangover” afterward. Instead, you’ll feel awake and refreshed.
Movement is your lifeblood literally. Research shows that daily exercise is a tremendous benefit. Daily exercise increases your lifespan, lowers your risk of heart disease, increases bone density, and promotes weight loss. Exercising doesn’t have to be torture. Taking a walk is a simple way to increase your mobility. Other things you can do is take the stairs instead of the elevator, join a gym, take a swimming class, take up a sport with a neighborhood or community group.
No matter what activities you choose do something that you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to do it. Exercise should not be about suffering. It’s about being healthy and having fun. The mind and spirit also needs to stay healthy and choosing activities that make you happy increases the value of that activity exponentially. Adding variation to your activities will keep them interesting.
Eat Fruit and Eat it First Thing in the Morning. It clears your palate and gives you your first dose of vitamins and minerals. Oranges offer more health benefits than Vitamin C. Getting the needed vitamins and minerals you need by taking synthetic supplements is not the same as consuming the foods directly from nature.
Satisfy your palate with these nutritious fruits: Watermelon, Apricots, Avocados, Apples, Cantaloupes, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Guava, and Papaya.
Berries are also high in nutritional value: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are excellent choices to add to breakfast or snacks throughout the day.
Eat more vegetables. Like fruits, vegetables are important for good health. Health experts suggest that we eat 5-9 servings of fruits/vegetables a day. Unfortunately most of us don’t even have the minimum amount we need. Some good vegetables to add to your daily intake include broccoli, kale, black beans, asparagus, green beans, sprouts, mushrooms, and carrots. Sometimes it’s easier to make a good smoothie to get your daily needed dose. Eating veggies raw with a dip is also a good way to get kids (big and small) to enjoy veggies.
Fruits and vegetables with bright colors are higher in antioxidants which are necessary for good health. Antioxidants remove free radicals that can damage healthy cells. You can find a full list of colorful vegetables and their health benefits on the color wheel, but here is a starting shortlist: White, bananas and mushrooms; Yellow, pineapples and mangos; Orange, oranges and papaya; Red, apples, strawberries and watermelon; Green, guava, avocados, cucumber, lettuce and celery; Purple/Blue, blackberries, eggplant and prunes.
Stop eating processed food. Processed foods are just that processed to the point that most nutritional value is lost and the added preservatives are terrible for your health. Most processed foods contain high amounts of salt which leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. Most of the foods sold in a box or a can in supermarkets are processed. A general rule of thumb is that the more ingredients it has on the label, particularly the ones ending with ‘ite’ or ‘ate’, the more they have been processed.
Positive Mental Health
Love yourself. How much do you really love yourself on a scale of 1-10? Self-esteem and self-worth play a huge role in our overall health. Do things that you love. Surround yourself with people who help you to promote a positive image instead of those who drag you down.
Positive mental health is an important part of a healthy life, especially after detox and in recovery. You don’t need toxic people in your life. You know who they are. Let them go. Stop being so hard on yourself. You won’t benefit from being hard on yourself. Listen to the thoughts that come up in your mind and get rid of the negative thoughts that you hear and replace them with positive thoughts. A lot of eating happens because one feels unhappy, so by staying in a positive state yourself, you cut out that unhealthy dependence on food to be happy. Meditation is a good tool to purge yourself of negative thoughts.
Breathe consciously and deeply. Oxygen is a vital source of life. Although we breathe naturally and constantly most of us don’t breathe properly. Most of us take shallow breaths and use only 1/3 of our lung capacity. A full breath is one where your lungs are completely filled and your abdomen expands. Conscious breathing and proper breathing adds needed oxygen to our bodies giving it more opportunity to work on our behalf.
Healthy Eating Habits
Are you eating because you are stressed out or frustrated? There is a correlation between eating disorders and substance abuse. Do you reach out for food when you hit a block at work or have an emotional upset? If so, you are emotional eating. Eating, because you are trying to fill a void, actually has nothing to do with food. Watch for the triggers associated with emotional eating and try taking a walk instead.
Eat smaller portions and eat several small meals instead of two or three big meals a day. Eating this way helps to balance out your energy distribution. This also allows you to eat when you feel hungry and stop when you’re full. You don’t have to wait until it’s an “official” meal time before you start eating. Listen to your body more and do what it tells you.
Stop eating when you feel full. Sometimes the best way to do this is to eat slower. Don’t rely on external cues to tell you when you’re full, like whether your plate is empty or not. Stick to your internal cues, your stomach will tell you when it’s full if you are listening and giving it time to tell the brain to tell you enough. Don’t feel obligated to eat just because there’s still food on the plate. Use your gut as your indicator (literally).
Eat more brown carbs. White carbs are refined grains where the nutrients have been removed in the production process, leaving them full of calories with little to no nutrients. White carbs include white rice, pasta, white bread, crackers, noodles, tortillas, wraps, anything with white flour and breading. White carbs can also cause unhealthy spikes in sugar levels. Brown carbs are unrefined complex carbs and give us the needed carbs including the good nutrients our body needs. Brown carbs include brown rice, whole grain, oats, steel ground oats, and all of the legume family.
Health For Life
Positive health starts from within! Are you living a life of meaning? Are you living in line with your purpose?
Stay away from fast food like fries, doughnuts, chips, wedges, and other deep fried foods. They are very fattening (1 tablespoon of oil is 120 calories) and contain acrylamide, a potential cancer-causing chemical. According to a BBC report, an ordinary bag of chips may contain up to 500 times more of the substance than the top level allowed in drinking water by the World Health Organization (WHO)! Stick to healthier alternatives, such as grilled, steamed, stir-fried, or even raw food.
Go organic, go local. Organically grown foods grown locally if possible are the best choices for your health. These are foods grown without synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.î (Wiki) The organic movement is becoming much more mainstream with more supermarkets offering organic options and in many large cities such as New Orleans, Louisiana locally grown vegetables and fruits can be bought every day and outdoor markets. These markets often offer a better price as organic foods sold in supermarkets tend to cost more.
Get soda and caffeine out of your daily habits. Caffeine is a diuretic and speeds up your rate of urine production and actually takes away from your daily intake of water. Soda is full of sugar and unhealthy preservatives. Soda causes weight gain and is an artificial stimulant.
Alcohol, like caffeine, is a diuretic and has been repeatedly proven to have negative effects on our body and health. Large quantities of alcohol impact the proper functioning of the brain, liver, lungs, and other major organs. Alcohol remains one of the most abused toxins in the world and for many people require some sort of alcohol treatment. Alcohol abuse changes the brain which can affect every aspect of your life even parenting.
Cook more foods at home. When you prepare your meals, you control what goes into them. Cooking can also be a great enjoyment and a wonderful social outlet. Cook healthy foods and invite your friends over for dinner. Splurge on some quality kitchen equipment and look up some fun recipes to try out on your friends. It will be the best investment you’ve ever made in your health.
Want to eat out? Salad bars are becoming more popular and your local grocery may even have one. Salad bars usually have a huge variety of healthy options from leafy greens to the anti-pasta choices. A good salad can be very filling without making you feel bloated or heavy and gives you a lot of good vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.
If you are a smoker, get into a cessation program and do your best to stop. We all know the detriments of smoking and how it has been extensively proven that smoking is detrimental to health and severely increasing the risk of lung cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, heart attack, and more. Quitting can be tough, but many do it every day. Do yourself and your family a favor and do everything you can to quit.
Get out more often. Make a point to go out with friends at least once or twice a month. Get some sun. Go out and have a change of environment. It’ll be great for your body and your soul.
Exercise good dental hygiene. Not only does good hygiene make you a lot more desirable, it is linked with better health. Brush your teeth twice a day, rinse your mouth after each meal, and floss your teeth at night.
Join a class that will get you moving. Dance, aerobics, tennis, ballroom, scuba diving, golf, or whatever. Get out and do something not only do these types of activities get you moving they get you to socialize with a new group of people who are also interested in living healthy and happy lifestyles. Hanging out with healthy people makes healthy living even more fun!
Addiction and Your Health
Needless to say, addiction affects your health dramatically. It is extremely challenging to attempt to live a healthy lifestyle when facing drug or alcohol addiction. If you find yourself consistently looking to any outside substance for happiness, the healthiest decision you can make is seeking out a professional drug rehab. Although alcohol is widely used and accepted, when alcohol begins to negatively affect aspects of your life, your health suffers. Alcohol rehab and detox, for many people, is the only way to get back to a healthy mind and body balance. Sometimes gaining control back of your life requires some sort of intervention for addiction. Some individuals respond well to outpatient treatment while some require inpatient rehab at a professional rehabilitation center.