How to be Healthy?
The answer could be fear of failing, of somehow not being able to keep up the regime we believe we would have to set ourselves. It could be complacency, feeling that we don't need to change our lifestyle, (a heart attack only happens to others...). It could be that there is just too much information or that the 'healthy lifestyle' topics that get the most publicity tend to be the most extreme ones.
Whatever the reason, we might all be more receptive to living more healthily if we understood that these three simple lifestyle changes could make all the difference!
1. Eat more healthily
For many of us, just the mere mention of the phrase 'healthy eating' brings thoughts of denial, feeling hungry and going without favorite foods. In fact, the reality could not be more different! Re-educating ourselves to change the habits of a lifetime is undoubtedly harder, the older we get, but changing our eating patterns and choosing foods that truly nourish our bodies might sound daunting to many of us - but in practice, this way of eating is simple, delicious, so easy to prepare and need not be expensive.
2. Take Some Exercise
Again, for many of us, the word 'exercise' conjures up unhappy memories of school PT and for those with hectic lifestyles who already feel exhausted by the end of the working day, it is hard to believe making time to exercise could make us more energetic rather than more tired - but this really is the case. No matter what our goals, whether to tone up, slim down, or build muscle, a simple routine doing something enjoyable will make it a habit for life.
3. Manage Stress Levels
"Easier said than done!" I can hear you say! But the plain fact is that stress, especially long-term stress causes more physical illness and mental anguish than almost any other factor. Stress messes us up - period. It affects our hormone balance, lays us open to heart disease and digestive problems. It affects our mood, our concentration, our ability to cope day-to-day and it makes getting the right amount of sleep almost impossible. Yet taking that first step to dealing with our stress is as simple as acknowledging the fact that we have a problem. After that, the next step is choosing one of the many methods available to help deal with stress - which one, is down to personal choice.
So, just three things, three areas of life, where making changes will bring noticeable benefits in an amazingly short time. These changes will become healthy habits - not because of self-denial, or a disciplined regime, but because making them will result in feeling and looking better, with greater self-confidence, more zest for life and the inner calm to cope with whatever life may throw at us.
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Eating Healthy Basics
What you need to know for your own good!
For anyone wanting to begin learning how to eat more healthily, there is a lot of help out there. The very best thing you could do for yourself would be to consult a Nutritionist. Find one by personal recommendation if you can, otherwise ask your Doctor or find the websites of practitioners local to you and choose someone you have confidence in and feel comfortable with.
A good Nutritionist will not start by telling you what you should be eating. Instead, they will begin with your lifestyle, what time of day you normally eat, what your food 'likes and dislikes' are, your goals and the time frame within which you want to achieve them. Then they will work with you to create small changes at first, working towards an eating plan that is sustainable and which fits in with your lifestyle and your goals.
Learn How Many Calories You Should Be Consuming
As I mentioned, everyone's needs and nutritional requirements are going to be different, but knowing your goals and understanding how many calories per day you should be consuming to attain them is a good start. A Nutritionist can help you with this but for a quick check, you can take a look at the Daily Food Plans at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) web site. Just put in your details and the result will give you a good indication of what your daily calorie intake should be.
Eat More Often
Try to eat more often. Instead of three meals per day, aim to eat four to six times. By this, I don't mean that you should sit down to six full meals every day but if you can ensure that you never actually get hungry, you will consume less food overall and you will maintain your blood sugar at a steady level. You will also improve your metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories). You should also try to eat something from each of the main food groups every day - and if possible at each meal. Include:
- Grains (aim to make at least half of these whole grains)
- Protein (from lean meats, fish, eggs, pulses, soya or tofu)
- Vegetables and Fruits (aim to eat a 'rainbow' of these every day, especially the dark green and orange ones!)
- Dairy or Dairy Alternatives (Milk, Cheese and Yogurt or Dairy alternatives of these made with rice, almond or soya milk)
Many people, especially when they are trying to lose weight, cut down on the amount of protein they are eating but this is not good for health. High protein foods like lean meats, eggs and pulses are essential for the building and repair of muscles and other tissues and also provide Vitamins from the B group plus minerals, Iron and Zinc.
Including the right about of protein in the diet supports the immune system and keeps the blood healthy. Nevertheless, it is not essential to consume a high protein diet in order to eat healthily; You should be eating more grains than protein. Try to include oily fish in your diet once or twice a week if possible and if you are vegetarian, you can ensure an adequate intake of protein by eating pulses, nuts, soy and tofu.
Just remember, don't try to make all the changes, all at once - your digestive system will thank you for it! Consult your Doctor first if you are considering a radical change to your diet. Take it slowly and be confident that each little step you take is getting you closer to your goal of a healthier, fitter, trimmer you!
Get Fit For Life!
There is no doubt that exercising is good for us. It is proven that those who exercise regularly have a lower incidence of physical ailments like coronary heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. In addition, they are generally happier, less prone to depression and have a more positive attitude in life. But after months, maybe years of relative inactivity where taking exercise is concerned, many people find it incredibly hard to get started with an exercise program - and even more difficult to keep going! Here are a few tips that could help you make the exercise habit a part of your life from now on.
1. Don't make your first goal, the finishing post
By this, I mean, if you are setting out to run a marathon, don't make your first goal running that 26 miles! Set small, achievable goals, especially if you have not done any sort of physical workout for a long time.
So, using the marathon example, maybe you could start out with some simple exercises in a twenty minute session. There is no need for fancy exercise equipment, you could just do some brisk walking and work up to 4 miles per hour for twenty minutes or, if you are a little fitter to start with, you could add a little jogging for short stretches in between.
You don't have to spend out on expensive gym memberships to enjoy getting fitter and having the satisfaction of reaching your goals either. How about trying to walk up the stairs in your building rather than take the elevator? Again, I am not saying you should be walking up fifteen flights of stairs in week one - remember, small, achievable goals is the key so start with one flight and take the elevator the rest of the way to start with and build up gradually.
2. Make an appointment with yourself to exercise!
How do you get anything done in your life that needs to get done? You schedule time for it, right? So, whether you put a 'post it' on your 'fridge, write it in your diary, or schedule it like a business meeting, make an appointment with yourself and treat that appointment like the most important one you have that day. Move other appointments around it but that one is 'set in stone' and doesn't get changed for anything less than an event totally outside your control like 'Hurricane Sandy'!
Find the time of day that feels right for you and try to schedule your appointments with yourself at the same time of day each time. Use a trigger like, "After I drop the kids off, I will exercise" or, "Before I eat my lunch, I will take that twenty minute walk". Doing this helps to program our brains to expect to exercise at these times and making it a habit is much easier.
3. Get Motivated
Affirm your goals. Write down what you want to achieve this month; Tell a friend, post it in a forum, start a blog, agree it with your personal trainer if you have one. Just the simple act of putting it down in black and white or telling someone who will encourage you (or even get on your case if you start slipping), will help to motivate you to keep going.
Only set one goal at a time. Don't say, "this month I am going to build up to twenty minutes exercise three times a week, lose an inch off my waistline and drop three pounds in weight". Affirm that you are going to build up to those three twenty minute sessions and reward yourself for achieving that being focused on just one goal is the best way of attaining it.
Record your progress after each exercise session. Even if you don't manage to reach your goal this month, looking back over what you HAVE achieved will help you resolve to try harder next month. Take a look at the things that prevented you from achieving your goal - and fix them!
When you have set your goal for the month and told people about it, decide how you are going to reward yourself. Give yourself a treat - you deserve it! And look forward to that reward when the going is getting tough.
By taking small steps towards your fitness goals, you will reach them all the sooner and by getting others involved to support and encourage you and by rewarding yourself at each little milestone along the way, you will be fit for life and hooked on the exercise habit!
Recognizing Stress Symptoms and Taking Action
1. Emotional Stress Symptoms
a) Feeling overwhelmed by problems, or that things are getting out of your control and you cannot regain it.
b) Finding that small things irritate you, leaving you feeling upset, angry or frustrated.
c) Finding it difficult to "switch off", being unable to relax in your leisure time.
d) Starting to feel depressed and having feelings of low self-esteem, wanting to avoid socializing whilst at the same time, experiencing feelings of loneliness.
2. Physical Stress Manifestations
a) Symptoms of tension, such as headaches, achy muscles, finding that you are clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth.
b) Excess perspiration, sometimes experiencing sweaty palms or feet which may feel cold and sweaty at the same time.
c) "Nervous" symptoms such as shaking, ringing in the ears, rapid heartbeat, insomnia.
d) Upset tummy, feeling nauseous or experiencing diarrhea.
e) Libido problems, either losing the desire or ability for sex.
3. Cognitive Symptoms
a) Becoming disorganized, forgetting things, feeling that life is becoming chaotic and you cannot cope.
b) Not being able to concentrate and think things through.
c) Become a "glass half empty" rather than a "glass half full" person, feeling pessimistic instead of optimistic about present and future situations.
d) Avoiding responsibility, not taking on new projects or interests, putting off jobs that need to be done.
4. Changes in Behavior
a) Changes in eating patterns. Eating too much or too little.
b) Becoming reliant on Alcohol, Tobacco or Recreational Drugs
Of course, all of the above mentioned symptoms may be related to other problems or an underlying physical illness so it is worth getting checked out by your doctor before taking action to tackle stress.
Cellular Aging - The Unseen Damage Done by Stress
In addition to the symptoms that we notice, stress causes unseen damage resulting in cellular aging. Simply put, all the cells in our bodies are constantly dividing and making new copies of themselves. In the division process Telomeres become shorter until they become so short that cells can no longer divide. Telomeres are strands of DNA which are found on the ends of chromosomes and which protect those chromosomes during cell division.
Studies have shown that cellular aging and shortened Telomeres have been associated with the onset of diseases that cause decline in mental faculties such as Alzheimer's. Research is ongoing into the effects of Telomere shortening on other cells and the possible links with premature onset of cardiovascular disease and other diseases associated with aging. The length of our Telomeres is a good indicator of our biological age (compared to our actual age) and research has shown that those with shorter Telomeres have a less good prognosis for recovery from serious illnesses (Source http://www.fdg.unimaas.nl/angiogenesislab/Mirrorsite/pdfs/Griffioen%20Inside%20Blood.pdf).
If you are definitely suffering bad effects from stress, the good news is that research has shown that in people who exercise regularly have some protection and cellular aging may be slowed down. Getting the exercise habit could be the best way forward for a healthier physical and emotional life.
So, if you recognize the symptoms of stress that are negatively impacting on your enjoyment of life and on your health, take action to address them. There are many valuable self-help books that can help you start looking at things differently.
If you could only choose one book, check out "The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook" by three respected authors, Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman and Matthew McKay, which has been recommended by many therapists because it provides a great introduction to the best and most effective stress management and stress reduction techniques.
If you are unsure about how to begin taking action, this book could help you directly with its wealth of advice and information and by helping you to decide which of the many ways of managing and reducing the stress in your life is most appropriate in your situation.
The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook
Poem by Niebuhr
"God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."
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