10 Simple Steps for Healthy Living
It’s definitely no secret. One good night’s rest has the capability to turn you into a super human. You feel invincible, that is until Netflix releases a new series that’s demanding a binge. Before you know it, it’s 3am and you’ve completed an entire season of Stranger Things.
You could be doing everything right, but staying up past your bedtime just might be what’s keeping you from feeling like the health guru you actually are. Catching seven to eight hours of beauty sleep each night has proven to boost the immune system, prevent weight gain, strengthen your heart, and improve memory.
The National Sleep Foundation states “when sleep is cut short, the body does not have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite.” Ever wonder why cravings are so strong after several late nights? Sleep deprivation triggers the hormonal response to eat more, which can lead to weight gain.
So it’s time to set an alarm for bedtime because sleep might be your ticket to a healthier you!
#3: Reduce Sugar Intake
We all know too much sugar has a negative affect on the body. What might be more shocking is how much sugar is found in our food. In fact, 74% of packaged foods sold in stores contain added sugars. Even foods you wouldn’t normally consider sweet, like salad dressings and pasta sauce, contain added sugars. So unfortunately this means, merely avoiding desserts isn’t going to be enough to reduce sugar intake.
The best way to start eliminating this sneaky substance is to simply start reading labels. How can you eliminate what you don’t know is there? Having a clear understanding of the different names of sugar and how much is in our foods help you make the most informed decision for your health.
Having trouble understanding labels? The FDA is a great resource as they provide all the information you need to learn to read a Nutrition Facts Label properly.
Once you’ve passed the label test, your next question might be… How much sugar is safe to consume?
The American Heart Association recommends per day no more than 38 grams for men, 25 grams for women, and 12-25 grams for children. Simply keeping track of your sugar intake can immediately affect your mood, how you look and how you feel.
#4: Get Active
It doesn’t matter if you’re jogging on a treadmill or shooting hoops with friends, any type of physical activity has continuously proven to be good for your physical and mental health.
The bottom line: Exercise is all about feeling better. Anytime you require your body to breathe in more oxygen, increase your heart rate, and push it beyond its normal capabilities, every aspect of your health benefits.
Do you want better sleep? Exercise.
Do you want to feel happier? Exercise.
Do you want to be stronger? Exercise.
Do you want more energy? Exercise.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a stroll outside and focus on your breathing. And maybe next time you can try to walk faster, or maybe even longer. Our bodies were made to move, so get moving!
In pursuing a healthy lifestyle, one must be open to exercising their emotional health just as much as their physical health. Meditation is a great way to begin to connect with your inner-self and gain a healthy sense of perspective. The goal of meditation is not to stop the thought train, but to become aware of our thoughts, observe without getting involved, and then sending them on their way. It is in this space where we experience meaning, gratefulness, clarity, and peace with ourselves.
The best part about meditation is that it can be practiced anywhere and at anytime. No yoga mat necessary.
#6: Avoid Diets
The truth is diets don’t work. Even if they work for a short while, any type of calorie-restricting diet tells your body that it must slow down its metabolism to protect itself from starvation. So the more you diet, the harder it becomes to lose weight.
Say goodbye to dieting and hello to a lifestyle full of vibrant color, exploding flavors, and a boost of nutrients. By choosing whole, natural foods that your body can easily digest, you’ll soon start feeling like a champion.
Not sure about the appropriate serving size? The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently updated their guidelines with the MyPlate model. Based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, MyPlate is a simple, easy to use visual to encourage healthy food portions.
Listening to your body’s cues is one of the most important, yet overlooked, pieces of the pie. Being told to “finish your plate” as a kiddo taught us to ignore the natural cues that the stomach is full. Bringing mindfulness to the dinner table is one way to help reconnect with your body’s signals and walk away satisfied rather than stuffed.
#7: Give Your Gut Some Love
Probiotics are quite the hot topic lately and for good reason too. This good form of bacteria is found in your gut and is responsible for things like nutrient absorption and immune function. Except if you don’t maintain these guys, the side effects can lead to digestive problems, skin issues, autoimmune disease and frequent colds.
By adding more probiotic foods and/or supplements into your daily routine, you could see an array of healthy benefits:
- strong immune system
- improved digestion
- Increased energy
- healthier skin
- weight loss
It’s no fluke that the stomach is found at the body’s center. Your gut health is at the center of how you look and feel. Start experimenting with some probiotic foods and see for yourself how great you can really feel!
#8: Meal Plan
Thinking about what you have to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can feel extremely overwhelming. When your tummy grumbles the last thing you want to do is take more time to think about what to eat, let alone take the time to prepare it. Let’s face it, prepackaged snacks are the most convenient invention of all time. Unfortunately, these types of products are full of preservatives, added sugars, and empty calories, ultimately causing a whole array of health issues.
So how do we solve this problem? We meal plan!
Just setting aside some time before the start of your week to plan out your meals, can drastically alter the flow of each day. Whether that’s just jotting down all your dinner picks, or grocery shopping for all your meals, any level of effort goes a long way here. Using a personalized padfolio or journal helps you stay organized, setting you up for great success!
It’s no surprise that you’re going to be hungry for some grub on Tuesday night. It’s 2020 guys, meal planning is the new fast-food.
#9: When In Doubt, Go Nuts!
Taking a trip down the snack isle can be one hazardous journey. You’re either lured in by the salty goodness of potato chips, or tempted by all those chocolatey energy bars that you’re still not sure are good for you. Except all you’re really looking for is something that’s easy to grab, tastes great, and is sure to hold you over until your next meal.
Introducing, the nuts!
Nuts are one of the healthiest snack options out there. Unfortunately, it’s their fat-content that gave them a bad rap back in the 80’s, when hair was big and waists were tiny. Now that we can see the difference between “good” fat and “bad,” it’s time we ask the nuts for our forgiveness.
They are a great source of protein, healthy fat and fiber. Nuts are loaded with antioxidants, protecting your cells from dangerous free radicals, reduce inflammation, and are shown to lower cholesterol levels.
We’re looking at nuts’ reputation with a fresh new perspective. The choice is simple, skip the chips and go nuts!
#10: Wash Your Hands Properly
The World Health Organization (WHO) released their 20 health tips for 2020, instructing us to “clean your hands properly.” What once was considered a basic hygiene tip has now become critical to the health of our society.
This tip isn’t so surprising these days with the flu season always lingering and now the worldwide threat of the coronavirus.
To protect yourself and others from spreading illness, it is recommended to wash your hands for a total of 40-60 seconds with enough soap to cover all hand surfaces. If water and soap are not readily available to you, use a high alcohol content hand sanitizer (at least 60%) to kill those nasty germs.
Striving for a healthy lifestyle isn’t as impossible as it may seem. With a little bit of awareness, education, and intention, you can feel really good about the life you live.