A healthy lifestyle is on the minds of many, especially considering that government legislation (Mayor Bloomberg) is trying to step in and tell the public exactly what they can and cannot eat and drink, in an effort to curb the obesity epidemic. Instead of allowing the government to play U.S. citizens like puppets and dancing to the tune of catchy jingles and captivating marketing spewed by food manufacturers – we should be taking matters into our own hands. It’s time to get healthy! And the power of better health is in your hands – it’s not always easy, but it is possible. Check out these six basic habits that lead to weight loss, healthy weight management and better total health.
- Eating clean. The food you eat can be the best medicine or the slowest form of poison. Unfortunately, the American diet is cesspool of toxins – marketplace shelves are lined with convenience foods, such as TV dinners, frozen pizzas, chips, pre-made pastries and various processed prepackaged foods. Street corners are lined with fast food restaurants – where the beef, chicken and vegetables are merely a representation of what they claim to be. If your stomach aches, if you have bowel distress, if your hair is falling out or your skin is constantly irritated – your diet may be the culprit. Choosing to eat more all-natural whole foods, more vegetables and avoid the fake, processed “junk” readily available, might just improve your quality of life – in so many ways.
- Eliminating sugar. Sugar has become public enemy number one in the United States. It has also become a source of debate among physicians, scientists and politicians. Whether or not sugar plays a starring role in the obesity epidemic, it is a completely unnecessary food (and, I’m sorry to say, pacifying your sweet tooth does not count as necessity.) Unlike dietary fats, you don’t need sugar to survive. Excess sugar not only causes increasing amounts of fat, but it causes cross-linking of collagen leading to wrinkles and feeds cancer cells – contributing to the growth of deadly tumors. Satisfy your sweet tooth with an ounce of real dark chocolate and leave the sodas, candies, cookies and other sweet treats out of your diet.
- Taking your vitamins. Supplements are a rich source of debate, Every so many years research surfaces suggesting that one vitamin supplement or another does little more than waste your time and money each day. On the other hand, a vast majority of physicians and other health industry experts would argue that supplements are like an insurance policy for good health. There are so many factors that contribute to nutrient absorption that it would require a great deal of time and energy to perfect your intake – and even then, some of those matters are beyond your control. Allergens in your gut, preparation methods and even certain food combination can limit nutrient absorption. For example, calcium, when consumed with a meal containing iron (eggs and milk), goes vastly unabsorbed because the heme iron found in eggs binds calcium, limiting or preventing absorption. So, find a good multivitamin and talk to your doctor about what other vitamin and mineral supplements may benefit you and your lifestyle.
- Catching Zzzzzs. There is no question that sleep is an important part of healthy lifestyle. Despite this widespread knowledge, when your schedule gets tight, sleep is often the first thing to be sacrificed. Not to mention that when you are stressed, consume alcohol, use tobacco or watch TV too close to bedtime – you are creating disruptions to your sleep cycle. These behaviors can contribute to poor quality sleep. Even if you do manage to get the recommended 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night, you will still feel tired, sluggish and be at risk for disease, weight gain and depression. Make sleep –quality and quantity – a priority. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason.
- Staying active. Routine physical activity is linked to numerous health benefits and looking and feeling younger is one of them. You already know that sitting for more than 3 hours a day is linked to a shorter lifespan and worse, yet, 8 hours of more of sitting contributes to the development of diabetes, certain cancers and obesity (suddenly desk jobs are dangerous!) These statistics make it crucial to make physical activity a regular part of your life. Routine dedication to cardiovascular and resistance training – four or more days per week for one hour at moderate to vigorous intensity – can help you beat these odds.
- Being consistent. What’s the secret to successful weight loss, healthy weight management and optimal health inside and out? Consistency. People who successfully achieve and maintain weight loss are not all super athletes or naturally thin – they have dedicated themselves to habits that promote wellness and healthy weight management. Exercising sometimes and eating right on occasion doesn’t offer the same results as exercising and eating right routinely. These habits have to be as much a part of your schedule as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. ( And, if you’re part of that trend that has decided one or both of these habits are not necessary daily, well that’s a whole other subject.)
And, if you are waiting for the magic pill or the day when it all becomes “easy” – you will be waiting until your dead. Not to sound cliché, but today is the first day of the rest of your life and you can spend the rest of your life fat, tired and sick or you can embrace the time you have left happy, healthy and loving how you look and feel. Healthy habits aren’t easy, but life is easier when you live healthy.