We are continually bombarded with tips and suggestions on how to live a healthier life. Many of us then end up doing nothing due to feeling overwhelmed to make a change! Below are 10 simple and some not quite traditional tips to start improving your health and well being.
Preparation might not seem like a traditional health tip, but it really is the foundation on which to build good habits, which then determine your results. Grab a notebook and start "predicting your future" by creating a plan of action which involves all areas of your life. Think about which parts of your life are not working and jot down practical strategies to move you closer to your goals.
For example, exercise three times per week, eat 5+ fruit and vegetables each day (write out what foods and when) and Manage my stress levels by reading for one hour each day.
This tip is all about making sure you know exactly what you need to do to achieve what you goals.
Whenever we start a new habit or routine, it can take a push to get started. I dislike using the words willpower and motivation because they are such fickle emotions that can fluctuate on a day to day basis. We don't need willpower to brush our teeth each morning, nor should we for doing healthy habits!
It's important to clarify your goals first with a plan of action and then get into it. I recommended seeking a professional to help you formulate a plan of action and keep you accountable. This really helps, especially until habit takes over.
3. Avoid "Diets"
Who hasn't heard of the cabbage soup diet or themselves tried some wacky diet that eliminated 90% of your usual foods! Dieting or going on some food plan that deviates dramatically from your usual eating habits will just set you up for failure. Yes, in the short term you may lose a few kilos. But I guarantee in a few weeks after stopping your "diet" you gain back all, if not more weight than before. The fact is "diets" are not pleasurable or convenient, therefore they are not sustainable. We really do know what "good" foods are but due to lack of time and knowledge on how to prepare some foods, we take shortcuts. Aim to start introducing more "good" foods into your diet.
4. Eat right
In conjunction with tip 3, it is important to fuel your body with the right nutrients. Aim to have a big hearty breakfast of protein, a small serve of carbohydrates and some fat. Example; 2 eggs, wholegrain toast and 2 small scoops of avocado. This type of breakfast will sustain you through the morning. Eat every 3-4 hours or as suits your body. Some people prefer high protein diets as this helps make them feel more energetic and some desire lighter meals. Talk to a professional for extra help.
5. Cardio Exercise
No healthy plan of action is without exercise! Exercise is so important to living a life full of energy, aging better and being healthier. It can affect all areas of your life, including your stress levels, sleep patterns and digestion. Experiment with various forms of exercise to see what suits you. Aim to do some form of cardio each day, resistance training and flexibility exercises a few times per week (stretches or yoga) so you can create a healthier body.
As most of us lead extremely busy lives, it is often sleep that gets sacrificed so we can cram more in to our day. Reduced quantity and quality of sleep can lead to a suppressed immune system and make you more prone to grogginess, illness and increased stress. Most adults need between 6-8 hours of quality sleep per night. You judge which amount leaves you feeling alert and vibrant the next morning. Make sleep a priority by allowing yourself time to unwind at the end of each night in a way that suits you.
Digestion is really the cornerstone of good health. If you don't have good digestion, then your body cannot absorb the nutrients from your food. A healthy bowel can prevent illnesses and contribute to feeling and looking healthier. If you are experiencing constipation, you may get headaches and even muscle and joint pain. Your digestive system communicates with other parts of your body and impacts significantly on your overall health. If you feel you are clogged up, start increasing fiber in your diet gradually. Consume 1.5-2 Liters of water a day to help move things along and start looking at areas of your life that are contributing to an unhappy bowel. Stress, eating when distracted, certain foods and lack of exercise can all be culprits.
Stress in general can be healthy for us as it pushes us to keep moving forward and achieving our goals in life. Continual stress on the other hand can cause anxiety, headaches, insomnia and fatigue when left to run rampant. Stress can surface in a multiple of ways; snapping at your partner, waking at 3am every night, feeling tired after 8 hours sleep, feeling down or just plain "blah".
I'm not going to suggest soaking in a bubble bath or nipping off for a massage to stop your stress as these are not long term fixes. The solution lies with examining your lifestyle and assessing what areas of your life are feeling out of control. Our happiness in life is in direct proportion to the amount of control we feel we have over our lives. If you are stressing about feeling overweight, then do something about it! If a relationship is leaving you drained and unhappy, then you need to make a drastic decision for your long-term health. Stress management is a continual process of managing your lifestyle so you feel a sense of control.
More and more studies are showing that for us humans to be healthy and happy, we need to build strong support networks and relationships. Having friends is good for our health! Make time each day to connect to your partner, kids and/or friends. As woman we actually release endorphins (happy hormones) from having a good gossip.
10. Action & perseverance
Being armed with great tips and techniques are all well and good, but unless you actually do what you learn and do it consistently, then you are no different that if you didn't know this stuff in the first place!
Pick out a few tips to incorporate into your life slowly. The more consistent you are, the better your results long-term.