Back to basics

By Justinne Lou Go, RND

 

IT’S that time of the year again when people are making or have already made resolutions, intentions, and goals for the year ahead. And of course, health and fitness always take top spot on the list, especially now that people are learning more about the value of health. A new year is a fresh start; a new opportunity to get things right.

With too much information online about health and fitness, how do you know which ones are right? There have been a slew of fad diets and health/wellness jargon that have been going around in the past year, but these “cheats and tricks” just aren’t for everybody. One thing is for sure though; you can never go wrong with the basics.

So, this time around, try not to complicate things and wind up keeping yourself from achieving your healthy lifestyle goals. Getting healthy may rely on eating right for the most part, but that’s not the only thing you need to work on if you truly want to be healthy. It’s called a healthy lifestyle because all aspects of your lifestyle have to be addressed — diet, movement, sleep, stress, and environment. All these aspects of your lifestyle play significant roles in contributing to your complete well-being. You cannot just do with one or a few, because compromising on the others will still keep you from achieving your health goals. So, here are my tips for you to keep it simple and sustainable this year:

Eat Right. We all know that diet or nutrition is the most important lifestyle aspect that one should work on to become truly healthy. As the popular health formula goes, achieving a healthy weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise. But, with all the confusing information and conflicting factors (temptations) around, it just doesn’t seem to be so easy. Well, what I can say is, the most important thing about eating is mindfulness. When you become conscious and aware of how you feel with the food you’re eating and how you eat your food, you begin to understand more about the relationship between your body and food. It’s about creating a healthy relationship and understanding of food. Being mindful of how you eat, particularly in chewing your food properly, brings you to the discovery and habit of actually enjoying your food and more importantly, helping your body with digestion. Also included in mindful eating is being aware of the kind of food you’re eating and how much you’re eating — nutrient density and portion control. Let me talk about these more in my next article.

Move It. Exercise is the indispensable partner of healthy eating to achieve your healthy weight. And, it’s not just for weight loss or maintenance. You can take advantage of the many benefits exercise does for your health even without losing weight and this is why it is so important to add or keep in your routine. Just some of the numerous benefits of regular exercise include regulating blood pressure, increasing good cholesterol, supporting blood sugar control, promotion and maintenance of bone mass, and promotes good sleep and good mood. Our bodies were made to move no matter what age we are, so don’t ever neglect this health strategy.

Sleep Well. This is one of the crucial lifestyle factors that one shouldn’t take for granted. No matter how well you eat and exercise, if you don’t give your body the rest it needs, it won’t be able to recover and repair itself. And I’m talking about quality sleep here. Getting an accumulated eight hours of sleep from short naps throughout the day or even getting eight hours of sleep but it is interrupted do not qualify for good quality sleep. You need to give your body the rest it deserves after all the hard work it does to keep up with you. So, make sure to make this a top priority especially if it’s what you struggle with most.

Stress Less. Stress will always be part of life, but there is a way to manage it. Studies have shown that stress is a major factor in promoting many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and even neuro-cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. So, you could say managing stress is a life-saving strategy. We manage it by doing counteracting activities that relieve us from at least some of the stress. This is why self-care and just taking some time out for yourself is very important.

Live Free. There is now a saying “Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.” Research has shown that our environment can interact with our genes; this is called epigenetics. Our exposure to toxic chemicals — from cigarette smoke, car emissions, plastic containers, Teflon/non-stick cookware, home cleaning materials, and even toiletries — is one of the biggest influences on our health. Being conscious of these and reducing exposure such as by using glass containers and using more natural (if possible, organic) products can be a very beneficial practice not only for your health but also for the environment.

As long as you keep things simple and stick to the basics, you can’t go wrong. Remember not to be too hard on yourself or expect too much, but be your own cheerleader and celebrate even the small wins. Being kinder to yourself this year could be the most important thing you need to make it through and achieve more milestones. Cheers to a better year ahead!

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