When embarking on a healthier and fitter lifestyle, one must consider one’s life holistically as what we are now and what we are to become is the sum of all of our actions. One is less likely to achieve the goals they want if they are merely doing just a few of these things and if they are only doing them sporadically. Remember consistency of application is the key to making progress.
I have made a list of important basic items that will help one develop a healthier lifestyle. While looking at the items singularly, some of them may seem overly simplistic. The key is to look at the list holistically to see how your over all life’s picture matches up.
1. Quit smoking (if applicable), this is a no-brainer to most. You should check with your doctor and begin a program to wean yourself from nicotine dependence. This is your body, the only one you get on this earth, and whatever you do today, is sowing the seeds of your health for tomorrow. You reap what you sow, and with the cost of health care, smokers should consider making plans to quit.
If you want to read a detailed description of what nicotine does to the body, read “The Schwarzbein Principle” by Diana Schwarzbein, MD. Diana Schwarzbein is Suzanne Somers’ doctor. Among other things: nicotine can cause insulin resistance, increased blood pressure, it breaks down lean body mass and wreaks havoc with your metabolism. It also ages your skin by drying it out. This comment makes me think of the days when I was a flight attendant and would fly to Las Vegas. Invariably, there would be these little old ladies that went there six times a year to gamble and they all smoked multiple packs a day. The skin on their faces looked like a prune. All I can say is, “Ew-w-w-w!”
2. Moderate your intake of Alcohol. Alcohol is totally sugar and it can blow your calorie budget quicker than you can say, “I’ll have another”. If you must have toddy, then limit yourself to 3 oz of red wine. Alcohol also makes willpower evaporate. A little buzz and all of a sudden you are digging into the chips, pretzels or whatever with total abandon and as a result, you can really blow it calorie-wise.
3. Get more sleep. This should be something you are fantasizing about anyway as a working professional. With or without a family, chances are you are getting too little! Proper sleep helps regulate the cortisol in your body.
4. Limit eating out. Save it for very special occasions! You’ll not only save money, but you will save lots of calories, fats and sodium. If you start researching online the nutritional information of your favorite restaurant meals, you will be appalled and will be encouraged to brown bag something healthier. Want an education/rude awakening about what seemingly innocent meals in restaurants will do to you in terms of calories? Then Google “Eat This, Not That” and peruse the many examples of what is out there. To see what I am talking about, then check out this link: http://tinyurl.com/betterchoices
5. Eat Whole Foods. Eat your veggies in the purest form possible. This means steaming or better yet roasting your veggies and seasoning them with herbs rather than sauces. You will save a caloric bundle by doing this. Avoid eating vegetables at all cost that come in the form of a casserole. Google some recipes for a squash casserole to see what goes into one. Squash is an innocent vegetable, but the high calorie goo that goes into most casseroles turns them into a caloric disaster.
6. Cut back on red meat. Personally I am not against red meat. One of my favorite cuts of meat for one of my special holiday meals is beef tenderloin. Eat good red meat in moderation and mix up your protein requirement with turkey, chicken and seafood. Stay away from “red meat” that comes from your local fast food restaurant. I just read an article about how it is processed and trust me, you don’t want to put that kind of poison into your body.
7. Learn what a portion is and cut back accordingly. I will post more about portions in the future because I think that portions are very misunderstood, which sets one up to eat too many calories. Start reading labels to find out what the portion allotment is. Did you know that some muffins in the convenience store are 500 – 600 calories apiece! The label will indicate that a “serving” is ¼ of a muffin and is 125 calories. The unaware will get caught by this, “A serving, 125 calories, yeah, that’s okay, one muffin, 125 calories? Cool!” Who on earth eats just a quarter of a muffin? Begin to become aware and educate yourself.
8. Monitor Caloric Intake. Yes, I know this is tedious. But you must first learn how many calories you are consuming, in order to see what you need to tweak or change. Losing weight goes back to plain old-fashioned math. 1 pound is 3,500 calories. If you take in more than you burn off, you gain. If you take in less than you need to burn in a day, then you lose weight. Almost but not quite does not get it in the business of weight loss. If you don’t know how much you are taking in, then how in the world do you plan to get there?
9. Learning to incorporate your nutritional needs and sensory pleasures in your eating plan. We talked about this yesterday that you must have enough proteins, good fats and carbs in your diet as well as eat the things you enjoy. If your nutritional or sensory needs are not fulfilled, you will eat more food to compensate for the lack and will end up over-consuming.
10. Begin regular physical activity. We also spoke of this yesterday, but exercise, must become a regular part of your lifestyle.
11. Take vitamin supplements. Vitamin supplements taken properly are good as well. I have a doctor that takes my blood levels and tests for many different things and tells me how much of what I need to take. We reevaluate this every six months. Don’t rely on them as magic pills, but as supplements to a good healthy program.
12. Drink More Water! Easier done for me in summer than in winter. Water, among other things, helps our digestive system, our metabolism and our elimination. It hydrates our skin and cells. It does so many good things for our bodies. Yes, water can be boring. Try adding a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint. It is so much better for you than drinking chemical sugar water, otherwise known as soda.
13. Regular Checkups with your doctor. Your health care professional knows best. Develop a good relationship with your doctor. Mine keeps me finely tuned like a Ferrari. I greatly value him and his expertise. A good doctor will help keep you well.
This is a partial list of things that have to do with an over all healthy lifestyle. Each one of these things involves a certain behavioral modification, which truthfully takes time. I stated in my previous post “Fine-Tuning Your Eating Plan” how one must keep tweaking and fine-tuning what they are doing to make it work for them. Friends, this is what you must do too. You will get there too once you begin. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step.