Attaining total health can feel like a juggling act. You’ve got a sugar free yogurt in one hand, a kale-spinach salad in the other, and all too often, you drop both to face a plate of jollof rice with stew. But a healthier life is attainable if you turn that juggling act into a balancing act: Eat right, sleep well, de-stress enough, work out and, oh yeah, manage your day-to-day responsibilities.
Here are some fundamental rules you need to get happy and healthy, for life. Step one: Cheer up! Even just remembering to smile is a way to stay healthy and keep your blood pressure down:
You Need A Doctor Focused On Wellness
Get a doctor that meets your personal needs and understands the difference between treating an illness and helping and guiding you through the wellness process. You need to find a doctor who will be interested in the steps you’ve taken to overhaul your total health, rather than simply treat a respiratory infection or draw blood for an annual checkup. All to often, clinics in Nigeria are focused on profit. As a result they want you taking as many pills as possible! Wellness is preventative medicine.
Food Should Be A Nutrient, Not A Drug
Think of your body as a Ferrari. You want to put in the best fuel you can at least 80-90 percent of the time. People often use food as an antidepressant and choose treats with little nutrient value that they think will make them feel better. Unsure about the comparison?
Foods containing high-fructose corn syrup as well as sugar, fat and taste enhancers can lead to behavioral reactions similar to those caused by drugs such as cocaine, reveals a 2013 study by Francesco Leri, associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada. And in a 2013 animal study, researchers found that Oreos had a greater effect on the pleasure centers of the brain than even morphine or cocaine.
Sleep Is As Critical As Food And Water
If you cannot sleep, you cannot be well. Failing to get a good night’s sleep can disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm, which regulates blood pressure and hormones. Your mood and work performance aren’t the only things that will suffer, though. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining properly functioning memory and sexual performance, as well as avoiding weight gain.
Getting enough sleep is crucial to regulating the fat storage hormone, cortisol, and the ‘I’m hungry’ hormone, ghrelin – meaning, getting adequate rest may make slimming down far easier.
Your Mind And Brain Need A Breather
Taking a few moments out of the daily grind is essential to reduce stress, which makes you vulnerable to illness. Ways to give your mind and brain a “time-out” include breathing exercises and meditation. Better yet, try doing some yoga. You’ll not only banish stress, but also tone your body in the process.
An Exercise Plan Should Be Balanced
Your regular exercise routine should include a mixture of muscle building, stretching and aerobics, which provides cardiovascular conditioning. The Mayo Clinic recommends that a workout regiment have five elements: aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, balance training and flexibility and stretching. Need more motivation to skip your favorite class once a week? It will help you slim down. Not mixing up your workouts is one of a number of fitness mistakes that prevent weight loss.
Recovery Is As Important As Exercise Itself
Recovery is an essential component of fitness that enables the body to adapt to stress, helps restore energy reserves and allows for repair of body tissue. If you don’t recover, your pulse rate is going to go up every morning instead of down, and then you’ve got a problem. Try combining high-intensity activity with low-intensity periods.
Keep Your Waist Slim
Maybe you’re not looking for chiseled 6-pack abs, that’s ok, too. If you’re aiming for a basic level of fit and healthy, track your waist measurement for an easy guideline. Waist circumference can give you a better indicator of obesity more so than body weight. If you can keep your waist below 34, you’re probably in pretty good shape. A waist circumference over 34 means you’re starting to build enough fat that puts you in danger of developing diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
No, we’re not talking about Facebook. Make a date to spend some quality time face to face; your body and mind will thank you. Social people are predisposed to better health. Make sure you put down the smartphone and focus on your friends once you’re together, too. Social support and expressing love can improve overall resiliency, and your capacity to give social support also has a tendency to feed back to you and pay dividends to your own health.
Keep Attainable, Realistic Goals
Mix in some reality into your training plans as well as your aspirations for healthy living. That doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a good challenge, just make sure your goals are a mix of the two. Setting goals that aren’t attainable is a recipe for disappointment. Don’t forget to go easy on yourself, either. Getting to the gym 4 days a week rather than the 7 you were aiming for is still a great result.
Think Long Term, Not Short Term
It doesn’t matter about your weight or fitness a month from now or two months from now; it matters a year or two from now. When we’re talking about your health years down the road, we’re talking about your ability to play with your kids and grandkids, travel well into your older years and maintain some of your favorite hobbies. Let that be your motivation. Long-term health is more important than setting an arbitrary weight-loss goal for two months from now. People take these really short-term outlooks; they try hard and then quit.
Make the decision to create healthy habits everyday, your body will thank you for it, and later in life, so will your bank account.