We’ve been talking a lot lately about how to make getting healthy easy in the Live Lighter’s Health Made Easy Series . Much of what’s been covered so far has been intangible, like common beliefs about health, alternative perspectives, mental associations and developing habits .
This final post in the series is a follow up to 7 Tips to Easy Health and provides you with some hands-on, get-down-and-dirty suggestions that will help you make healthy living easy. The following 15 practical tips will have your body singing the right tune so it’ll be easier to develop your healthy lifestyle:
- Get optimal sleep. Our bodies and brains need rest so that they can busy themselves with other work. You see, during the day we’re so busy sensing the world and living our lives that we don’t have the capacity to do much else. Being unconscious shuts down our senses and allows our brains to process the information and our bodies to heal. It is extremely important to get the right amount of sleep for your body to function effectively.
- Get up at the same time every morning (or close to it). This tip helps you achieve the first one because, really, how do you know how much sleep your body really needs? Your body will tell you but you have to create the right listening conditions. By getting up at the same time every morning, you train your body to naturally rise at that hour. Some days you’ll need more sleep so at night, if you stay away from stimulating activities an hour within your regular bedtime, you’re sleepiness is the green light that you’re ready to hit the hay.
- Drink lots of water . Our bodies are approximately 70% water and we need to be hydrated for proper functioning. Water is also instrumental in flushing out toxins and dead cells floating around, banging into and damaging our healthy cells and organs. We can survive an amazingly long time without food but water and sleep are the two main ingredients keeping us alive! Keep yourself lubed up with water and stay well rested for a simple recipe that’ll help you tackle any problem life throws at you.
- Use one day of the weekend to grocery shop. This is a healthy eating tip. You’re less likely to snack on crap or buy take-out if you have a stocked kitchen full of healthy, tasty treats and ready-made, nutritious meals.
- Use the other day of the weekend to make lunches and/or dinners for the week. Between the previous tip and this one, I’ve been able to maintain healthy eating practices fairly consistently for over a year – and lost 45 lbs doing it! I usually plan a couple of dishes to make on Sunday, portion them out, keep what we’ll use during the week in the fridge, and freeze the rest. If you’re able to keep up the pace, you’ll find you’ve got a stock pile of meals in the freezer so when you don’t have time one week to prepare meals, then no worries!
- Cheat a little. You’re always looking for that sweet spot in your healthy lifestyle , right? This means you can cheat a little. I usually use Friday as my cheat day and it’s been working for me. Try to choose the healthiest alternative that will still give you satisfaction. However, when you’re first forming your healthy habits, if you find you’re going all hog-wild when you cheat, then cut it out! At least for awhile until you’ve lost the weight you want or until you’re leading a fairly regular, healthy lifestyle that’s so ingrained you’re unlikely to slip into old habits.
Eat the right amount of food. Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, authors of the YOU book series and realage.com , compare our fuel and waste systems to that of an automobile. Without going into too much detail (it’ll be a future post), when our bodies use fuel (food), there are natural bi-products (waste). On the cellular level, these are called free radicals, which cause cellular damage and most often results in cancer.When we eat the right amount of food (slightly below what we need to function), our bodies turn to our fat stores for fuel. Fat combustion is a far more efficient fuel (which means less waste and oxidative damage) than the glucose that comes from our digestion. So here is an example of how overeating can cause a whole whack more problems than just a little extra poundage around the middle!
- Make exercise an excuse . At one time the human race was extremely active. Our ancestors fought everyday to stay alive: spearheading fish, bending to pick herbs, reaching up for fruit, tackling saber tooth tigers… Our bodies are designed to be active and exercise is absolutely necessary to our total health. So why fight it? Try making exercise an excuse! How about an excuse to spend time with family, like ice skating or playing Frisbee in the park? Make it an excuse to get things done, like laundry or house cleaning. Or why not spend that time having fun like being active in dance, martial arts, sports or the best one of all, sex?
- Relax. Our bodies and brains need rest to heal. We put them through a lot during the day and while sleep is a daily restorative state, it usually isn’t enough. Putting aside some extra time a day to really relax, which means to knock out as much sensory stimulation as possible, will do wonders for your energy levels. There are probably 101 ways to relax (hey, that sounds like a future post to me). But here are a few to get you started: meditate, get out in nature, stroke your pet (unless you have a goldfish), take a bath, just sit quietly or try a glass of wine.
- Keep a fairly regular routine. When I was younger (and could afford to live a carefree life) I had balked at the restraints of routine. But since adopting healthy living practices, I’ve found routine a must in developing healthy habits and helpful in maintaining it. At first, I was extremely protective of my routine, At this point, though, I have no worries if my routine gets mussed up – I love my new healthy lifestyle and will never go back to my old ways.
- Hook up with some support. Almost every weight-loss and health program stresses the importance of getting a buddy to help keep you motivated and stubborn in your pursuits. When you’re the only one you’ll disappoint, it’s easy to give up; but if you make yourself accountable to others, you’ll do your best to avoid the embarrassment of not keeping your word. For some people, social support keeps you honest and makes you try harder to achieve your goals. Use the help of social networks dedicated to achieving health, like Live Lighter (and our Facebook group), Weight Watchers or SparkPeople .
- Laugh. Let’s see, where should I start? Laughter is not only great for building core muscles but it’s a great stress reliever, burns tons of calories, increases mood…basically, the benefits of laughter have been shown to have positive effects on the mind, body, emotional and social well-being. Laugh hard and deep so you can live long and be young.
- Be love. Yesterday’s Valentine’s post tooted the benefits of freely giving and accepting love. Probably the most important person to love, however, is YOU. When you love yourself, you can forgive yourself for not being perfect. So when you goof up (and you most definitely will), you can accept your human faults, focus on how far you have come and get right back on the healthy living wagon.
- Express all your emotions in healthy ways. When I was transforming from my former self to me now, I shed more than just weight. Achieving health catapults you into a different perspective and you’ll find that you’ll arrive at answers to questions you never even realized you had! There were a lot of issues that came up for me while I was getting healthy and some days were fairly emotional. Get it all out – expressing your emotions in a healthy way (i.e. you’re not hurting yourself or others) eases tensions and clears the mind so you can move forward and experience even more change.
- Get organized. When my environment is organized, I feel organized in my mind. If my surroundings are cluttered, forget it – I’m stressed, a basket case. Over the past 5 years, every Spring I’ve been slowly whittling away at my junk that I’ve been accumulating throughout my life. And every year I’ve been banishing my emotional attachments to “my stuff". I am positive that this is the jackpot year where I’ll declutter like nobody’s business. One of my favourite bloggers, Leo from Zen Habits , is all about simplifying life through organization .
These 15 practical tips helped me develop healthy habits and have allowed me to continue living a healthy lifestyle. I hope they do the same for you. Do you have any tips that make it easier to be healthy? Let us know by leaving a comment and if you found this post informative or entertaining, please vote for me on Digg or Stumbleupon.
As the final post to the Health Made Easy Series, I want to thank you for coming back over the past week and a half. Thank you for your regular reading and I’d appreciate any feedback you can offer so the next series can be even better.