Maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be challenging, but it should never become stressful. This means that changes should be incorporated in incremental steps which allow the body and mind to adjust. It is unnecessary and counterproductive to shrink calorie intake so much that you feel compelled to grab every sample you pass in the grocery store or lick the crumbs left on the plate from your morning toast. Similarly, exercise can be so rigorous that it actually causes more stress on the body than it is relieving.
The key for most men and women striving to keep themselves healthy is to first set achievable goals concerning their eating habits. Gimmicks do not work to improve health in the long term; instead, the focus should be on eating appropriate portions of natural, unprocessed foods. By concentrating on the nutrients contained in each food choice, rather than the caloric content, you can improve your diet significantly without negative consequences. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and milk products should make up the larger part of your food intake for the day, but protein is necessary in smaller amounts. Try some of these small changes in your diet to control your weight, lower your blood pressure, and keep your cholesterol numbers low:
- Bake and broil meats and vegetables rather than frying.
- Switch to skim milk and two percent dairy products.
- Choose whole grain breads and pastas.
- Eat fruit or a small salad before a meal.
- Split restaurant entrees or treats with another person when possible.
As you make changes to improve your eating habits, you will find that exercise is your friend. Research has shown that setting aside a time for exercise every day and consistently sticking to it can bring major health benefits. Just doing thirty minutes or more of aerobic activity every day with weight bearing exercises added three times a week can strengthen bones, relieve stress and depression, decrease hunger, and keep the organs of the body functioning at maximum efficiency.
For those of you convinced that it is time to make exercise a priority on your way to good health, here are some tips to make it easier:
- Choose a form of exercise that you really enjoy.
- Set aside a time and place for exercise where you feel really comfortable.
- Get an exercise partner if at all possible or join a team or group.
- Start slowly and make adjustments to keep your body happy.
- Expect to have to use discipline and to want to quit sometimes, but commit anyway.
Exercise is powerful as a tool for improving your health, but it takes a while to become an exercise addict. Once you have passed the point of bursting lungs, trembling thighs, and burning feet, you will discover that exercise gives you a sense of euphoria and well-being that is unmatched by other activities.
The final secret to good health is just as important as the other two. Get plenty of rest! Sleep rejuvenates the mind along with the body. You cannot live a healthy life without it. Sleep results in clearer thinking and greater work efficiency. Take an extra nap today; your body will thank you tomorrow!