We are almost halfway through 2019. Have you kept your healthy goals for this year? Don't be ashamed if you haven't! It's tough to make meaningful change in your life and stick to it. There are pressures with work, family and running the house. It is so easy to fall back into our old routines.
To help you get back on track or to simply enhance the positive life changes you have made, I put together the ultimate guide to being healthy. These steps are easy to work into your routine. I don't recommend trying them all at once. That is probably how you fell back into your old routine. Most people take on more than they can handle when making meaningful change in their lives. Instead, try one or two steps for 21 days. Then you can move on to another step or two.
It only takes 21 days to make a new habit. When you think about making a change in your life, don't think it will happen right away. It takes time to learn something new and then consistently do that new thing. Think about all the learning you have done and continue to do in your life. It takes time to practice and then you get good at it. Being healthy happens exactly the same way. Practice the steps, don't get frustrated when you haven't been "perfect" at the change and keep practicing. That is the only way to get good at a new behavior. You will master it and you will be happy that you took small steps that let you really get into a new routine.
Here we go! The Ultimate Guide to Being Healthy:
1) Drink Clean Water and Lots of It!
I cannot emphasize how important it is to drink clean water. The water flowing into your home is tainted with chemicals. It cannot be helped. The local water authorities have to make sure the water that is used for cooking, showering and bathing in our homes does not have harmful bacteria that will make us ill. It is a small investment to buy a water filtration container that you can fill with tap water and filter out the bad stuff. If you are going to drink water from the refrigerator, make sure to change the filter every 3 months not 6 months like most recommend.
How much should you drink? Half your body weight in ounces everyday. If we only follow the 8 glasses of 8 ounces a day, we should only weigh 128 pounds. I don't think most of us weigh 128 pounds. By increasing how much water you drink daily, it will help your body get and stay hydrated. Most of us eat when we are actually just thirsty. The next time you think you are hungry, drink some water first. You may be surprised that you really don't want something to eat.
2) Move Your Body Everyday
There is no way around it. We weren't meant to sit at a desk 8 - 12 hours a day. We weren't meant to sit in a car commuting or driving around the kids for hours on end. Our bodies were meant to move and we must move them. This doesn't mean we have to belong to a fancy gym or take expensive classes. But it does mean finding something and sticking to it.
Walking is one of the most overlooked forms of exercise that can be done easily and anywhere. If it is cold outside, find a mall that allows people to walk while the stores are closed. Or invest in a treadmill. Or join the local Y which will have reduced pricing for memberships. Another favorite and inexpensive way to get moving is to find free classes on YouTube. There are some great workouts from beginners to more advanced to keep you interested in moving your body. Aim for at least 30 minutes everyday.
3) Eat Mostly Plants
No matter what stage of life you are in, eating more vegetables and fruits and less meat is not only better for you, but also for the environment. Vegetables provide us key nutrients, few calories, fiber and protein. Vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants which help fight illness and disease in our bodies. Whenever you can, buy organic. It really makes a difference because the nutrient content is higher which means you will get fuller faster.
Most people think that if they reduce meat in their diet that they won't be able to get enough protein. That just isn't true! Plenty of vegetables contain protein. If you simply can't eliminate meat from your meals even for just one day a week, try to eat only 1/2 the portion size you would normally eat.
4) Avoid Toxins and Chemicals
This can be a hard task to accomplish. It is a well known fact that we can't eliminate toxins and chemicals from our lives, our environment or our households. There are too many products that are produced with chemicals either in their ingredients or in the packaging. But you can reduce your exposure by taking a few key steps:
Stop cooking with Teflon coated cookware. Teflon toxicity is a real thing. The problem is that once there is a scratch on the cookware, the Teflon will continue to degrade and seep into the food you are cooking. A better choice is glass for baking and stainless steel for cooking. Here is a great Stainless Steel Guide to help you know what to look for. Stainless steel does not have chemicals that can seep into your food.
Being healthy means more than just what we eat, drink and the products we use everyday. Self-care is absolutely an important part of the ultimate guide to being healthy. If we don't take care of ourselves, we won't have the ability to take care of others. Self-care can be a lot of things. Having a meditation practice, keeping a journal, setting time aside for yourself everyday to drink a cup of tea or to take a walk. Find something that brings you joy and that you can do at least 5 days a week. This will help you give back to yourself after all you give to others.
6) Responsible Calorie Restriction
This does not mean you need to count calories every single meal. Instead, it is the mindset to say to yourself, did I do enough physical activity to burn the calories I consumed today. If you are moving your body every day, then you will probably burn off a good portion of the calories you consumed. But if you didn't move your body, that is a signal that maybe you don't need to eat as much that day. Maybe 1/2 the portion size you normally would eat is enough on those days when you haven't exercised. Your age has a lot to do with this as well. As we get older, we simply don't need as many calories. Our metabolism slows and portion size really does matter.
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