Everyone wants to be healthy, yet the obesity rate is alarming. Why is it so hard to live a healthy lifestyle? For one thing, today’s society is very fast-paced, leaving many people to think that they don’t have time to be healthy. Others say that it is simply too hard. However, it doesn’t have to be hard, but it can require a little thought and planning.
Healthy living starts with the basics: What you put in your body, what you do with your body, and giving your body time to rejuvenate.
Let’s start with what you put inside your body. Today’s American diet is full of stuff that the body simply was never meant to consume: chemicals, fillers, added fats and sugar, the list just goes on and on.
If you really want to adopt a healthier lifestyle, start with what you eat. Most people do not eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables. You should have five or more servings of these natural food items every day. That can seem hard, but if you have a piece of fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch and have two vegetables with dinner then you have met this requirement. Fruits and vegetables are great for snacks too! You don’t have to stop at only five servings. If you are eating more fruits and vegetables, then you will be avoiding sugary snacks that are not good for you.
Another area in which most Americans need to improve upon is the amount of unhealthy fats they eat. You do need some dietary fat, but as a rule, most people are getting way too much. Unhealthy fats are found in fried foods and red meats. If you are reading a nutrition label, unhealthy fats include trans fats and saturated fat. Trans fats are found in fried foods, commercial baked goods, and margarine. Saturated fat is found in red meats, the skin of chicken, butter and lard.
Does this mean that you should not enjoy a good steak? No! Just limit the amount that you eat. If you go out to a steak house, chances are good that you will buy a 12 – 16-ounce steak when your body only needs 5-6 oz of protein for an entire day, not in each meal. A healthy eating plan includes cutting back on the amount of meats eaten daily, which in turn, will reduce the intake of unhealthy fats.
While you try reducing unhealthy fats, you should also increase the amounts of good fats in your diet. These are the unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Healthy fats are found in fish such as salmon and trout, and in seafood such as oysters and muscles. Healthy fats are also found in avocados, olives, olive oil, and nuts.
One other thing about food that you should know – processed sugar is one of the worse things you can eat. It is addictive, so the more you eat, the more you want. Americans find huge amounts of sugar everywhere. It is in sweetened drinks (soda, sweet tea, energy drinks), candy, desserts (cake, pie, and ice-cream), and even in snacks that seem to be healthy like granola bars. Sugar is everywhere.
To be in the best health, you need to read food labels and monitor the amount of sugar in your diet that does not come from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables. Many people are amazed by how easily the loose weight by simply removing processed sugar from their diets.
Healthy living isn’t about food alone. While it is true that your body needs proper nutrition to function at the optimal level, you also need to get enough exercise. It is recommended that you get a full hour of intentional exercise every day. Doing your housework doesn’t really count. Neither does activities such as shopping, running errands or going to work (most jobs).
What can you do about this? Plan to exercise every day. You may think that you don’t have time to exercise, but you don’t have to set aside a full hour in a single block of time. Here are some tips for getting in your daily exercise:
- Take a 15-minute walk before work.
- Take a 30-minute bike ride after work.
- Spend 15 minutes playing basketball with the kids.
- Walk on your lunch break.
- Never drive if you are traveling less than a mile – walk or ride your bike instead.
- Do jumping jacks or squats for 10 minutes after you drink your coffee.
- Jog in place during television commercials (or any other exercise).
Be creative and find the time. Your body will thank you for it!
No healthy living plan would be complete without a plan for rest. Your body needs time to rejuvenate itself. Sleep is very important. Many things happen while you are snoozing. Your brain takes this time to store away memories. Your body spends the sleeping hours repairing its self and your immune system.
Getting enough rest leads to reduced stress, an improved immune system, better brain function, and reduced inflammation. So how much do you need? Most health authorities suggest 8 hours, but you have enough sleep if you wake easily and feel rested when you wake up. Feeling groggy until you’ve had two cups of coffee? That is a sign that you are not getting enough shut-eye.
This is a very simple overview of how to start living a healthier life. Start with these tips and be patient with yourself. Change takes time, but if you stick with it, then maybe you will want to find even more ways to increase health in your life.