Do you think that if you took better care of your health, it would make you feel better and improve your productivity? For many people, New Year is the time to introduce a healthier lifestyle, but why wait till then? If you want to improve your lifestyle because you’d like to be healthier and happier, there’s no time like the present. (Image Credit: Jill Wellington/Pixabay)
It’s very easy to put off making any kind of change and old habits can be hard to alter. If you commit to living a healthier life, however, you’ll have more energy, improved mental health and it’ll increase your chances of defeating illness. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Here are six steps you can take right now.
Get More Exercise
You all know that regular exercise is good for the body, but did you realize that it’s also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health? It can have a significant impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD and much more. Exercise also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and boosts your overall mood. Even a modest amount of exercise can make a difference, so you don’t need to worry about becoming a fitness fanatic.
If you’re regularly physically active, you can reduce your risk of a heart attack, manage your weight better, lower your blood cholesterol level and the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Regular exercise also lowers your blood pressure, strengthens your bones, muscles, and joints, thereby reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
The big question is how much physical activity do you need to do? Health professionals recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days. However, it’s worth pointing out that any physical activity is better than doing nothing. If you currently do nothing, maybe it’s time to get the ball rolling by starting a new hobby. Golf can be an excellent form of exercise, as long as you don’t rely on getting around the golf course using an electric buggy. Look online for all your equipment and golf gear; you should take the time to find your own custom putters to make your experience all the better.
Increasing the amount of physical activity can be done in several ways. For example, walking or cycling instead of using the car, getting off the train or bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, or walking your kids to school rather than taking the car.
Anyone over the age of 45 should see their doctor before starting any physical activity as pre-exercise screening can help to identify whether you have a medical condition that might put you at a higher risk of experiencing a health problem during physical activity.
Eat Less Meat
There are plenty of good reasons why you might want to eat less meat. While you might think ditching meat from your diet is a hard thing to do, it’s easier than you think. Include more vegetables, whole grains, nuts fruits, beans, lentils and seeds in your diet rather than meat, and it can have huge implications for your health as well as the planet.
The trick to eating less meat is to replace your bad habits with positive ones. You also need to find ways to cut down on your meat consumption in ways that are manageable and doable. Start with just one day out of seven and find simple vegetarian meals you can try at home. The next step could be to go meat-free on weekdays while enjoying meat at the weekends. The important thing is not to beat yourself up if you can’t give up meat altogether and to take each day as it comes.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or you just want to cut down on how much meat you are eating, making sure you’re getting all the nutrients your body requires is essential. Simply removing meat from your diet without thinking about what you’re replacing it with is a recipe for disaster. If you find yourself eating less meat but have piled on the boxed mac and cheese and stuffed-crust pizza, you’re going to do your body more harm than good. Striking the right balance isn’t easy, but it is possible.
To eat healthily with less meat, it’s vital you include more plant protein, as in nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and whole grains. You don’t have to eat them all at once, but you do have to aim for a variety throughout the day. Eggs are another great addition you can include in your diet as they can provide many of the proteins and nutrients you would have got from meat. Best of all is that they can be added to just about anything.
Ditch the Bad Habits
Bad habits are easy to acquire, but they’re not so easy to get rid of. You may start with the best of intentions, but life has a habit of getting in the way. The good news is that ditching your bad habits and replacing them with healthy ones is possible. Here are a few suggestions for how you can do it.
To start with, you can stop making excuses to yourself, thinking that one relapse won’t make much difference. When you find yourself making excuses you need to identify and reconnect with the reason why you want to make the change.
The trick with breaking bad habits is to make them a little more painful. Money can be a great motivator, so every time you catch yourself doing the thing you want to stop doing, put a set amount of money in the jar. Alternatively, reward yourself for every day you manage to beat your habit.
Understanding what causes you to repeat your bad habit can be key to conquering it. Many bad habits you continue to do without even realizing it. Learn what the five cues are that usually contribute to every bad habit.
Forming new habits takes time. You’re not going to wake up one morning and your craving for a cigarette, for example, will be gone. Focus on one bad habit at a time and take small steps rather than expecting a dramatic adjustment.
Chances are you’re going to have bad days. It’s perfectly normal to have a setback every now and again. The trick to overcoming them is to have a plan. You also need to look at it as a way to understand what happened and how it can be avoided the next time. Start over coming your bad habits and improve your productivity. It’s perfectly normal to have a setback every now and again. The trick to overcoming them is to have a plan. You also need to look at it as a way to understand what happened and how it can be avoided the next time.
Reduce the Amount of Sugar in Your Diet
If you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle, you need to keep tabs on the amount of sugar in your diet. Added sugars in desserts, drinks, and candy can lead to weight gain and spikes in blood glucose levels. Eating too much sugar is one of the worst things you can do to your body. It has many negative effects on your health and can contribute to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and tooth decay.
Sugar is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, and this type has little effect on your blood sugar, therefore making it healthy. The sugar you need to avoid is that which is added to most processed foods. The upper daily limit recommended by experts is six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men. The average American consumes around 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day which is way over the limit.
If you want to cut back on the amount of sugar in your diet, you should ditch sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks. These have been found to contribute as much as 44% of added sugar in the American diet. Even so-called healthy drinks such as smoothies and fruit juices contain an astounding amount of added sugar. Low-sugar alternatives include water, sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, water with mint and cucumber, herbal or fruit teas, unsweetened tea or coffee.
Desserts are another popular food that’s laden with added sugar, and they generally have little or no nutritional value. If you really feel the need for something sweet reach for a piece of fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, baked fruit with cream, dark chocolate or a handful of dates.
Many of the popular sauces include a shocking amount of sugar in them. Ketchup, sweet chili sauce and barbecue sauce are the worst culprits. A single serving of ketchup, for example, may contain one whole teaspoon of added sugar.
Another common mistake people make when trying to eat healthily is to choose low-fat options. The truth is that low-fat alternatives can sometimes contain more sugar and calories than their full-fat counterparts. Take low-fat yogurt, for example. It contains four teaspoons of sugar and 96 calories in a 4-ounce serving. The same amount of full-fat yogurt, on the other hand, contains just over a teaspoon of naturally occurring milk sugar and only 69 calories. If you’re trying to cut your sugar intake, you could be better off choosing the full-fat version.
Lead a Less Sedentary Life
Modern advances have made life much easier, but they have also led to a more sedentary lifestyle. Inactivity and sitting for long periods dramatically increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and several other obesity-related conditions. Choosing to lead a less sedentary life can take some getting used to, and it will require some conscious effort. However, the value is worth it because it brings a myriad of benefits. Did you realize that the average American spends 93% of their lifetime indoors and 70% of each day sitting? These figures are astounding.
If you’d like to become less of a couch potato and get moving there are several things you can do. When you’re working set an alarm on your smartphone to remind yourself to get up, move, and stretch for 10 minutes, you could take a walk around the office or go for a quick stroll outside. Your body will definitely thank you for it.
How many times do you send emails to your co-workers or hold a conversation via Skype? Why not take a short walk to your colleague’s desk and have a discussion face-to-face?
Stair-climbing, rather than taking the elevator is a much better option. It’s actually considered to be vigorous-intensity physical activity and burns more calories per minute than jogging. At every opportunity take the steps rather than the elevator, and you’ll be helping to maintain a healthy weight and build and maintain healthy bones, joints and muscles.
Stress is a perfectly normal response to dealing with change and the challenges of daily life. In the short term, it’s a good thing because it helps you perform better under pressure. Constant stress, on the other hand, poses problems for your health. It causes the release of cortisol and adrenaline, both of which influence your blood pressure, heart rate, eating habits, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, fat metabolism, and your ability to fight off illness. Long term stress also increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke and can contribute to depression.
Certain lifestyle actions can help you reduce or manage the stress in your life. They include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, reducing caffeine and sugar and avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs. Other things you can do include getting enough sleep, taking regular breaks when working, and not being afraid to ask for help.
Finding the right work-life balance is also essential. Try to set aside some time every week for you to relax in a way that’s best for you. Hard work is an integral part of your life, but it shouldn’t take over. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine, go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air, curl up and read a book or relax in a nice hot bath. It’s important not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of your day and forget about enjoying life.
Now you should be able to appreciate that enjoying a healthy living and lifestyle is easier than you think. Start making changes today, and you’ll be reaping the benefits in many different ways.