Posted on 07/21/2014 at 12:00 AM by Embria Health Sciences
By Julie Revelant
Between the huge selection of health, diet, and fitness books, the popularity of gluten-free and Paleo diets, and the surge in health and fitness trackers, we should all be poster children for perfect health.
But that’s definitely not the case.
More than a third of Americans are obese, and a whopping 69 percent are overweight. Forty percent of us get less than 7 hours of sleep each night. What’s more, stress is taking a toll on our careers, our relationships, and our happiness.
Of course you’re too tired, too busy, or fill in the blank with an excuse.
I get it. I have two kids under 3 who keep me on my feet all day long. I run my own business and my husband works 6 days a week, including many nights and every weekend. I don’t have a six-pack or compete in triathlons, but I am in the gym most mornings, I cook and eat healthy, and try to make sleep a priority.
So although it’s a challenge, the reality is that staying healthy is just not an option, it’s a necessity! So don’t blame it on genetics, your job, or your lack of time. If you want to be a healthy, active, happy person, you need to start today.
The good news is that there are small, simple changes that can make a huge impact on your health.
Small change #1: Eat better.
Instead of “being good,” skipping breakfast, or cutting out major food groups, the key to a healthy diet and weight loss in my opinion, is everything in moderation. If you’re too restrictive, it will just back fire.
Sure, you can eat red meat, but limit it to once a week. Addicted to sugar? Allow yourself a portion of chocolate after lunch and munch on fruit for a sweet fix instead. Commit to one small change this week and slowly your healthy habits will become second nature.
Small change #2: Disconnect and get to bed.
Making time for sleep isn’t a priority for most of us, but it should be. Without a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and your patience will quickly run thin. Lack of sleep can also impact your performance at work, your memory, and put you at risk for obesity, diabetes, heart problems and depression, and may even cause your brain to age faster, a recent study finds.
It’s not just the amount of sleep, either, it’s the quality. Your TV and iPad are stimulating so start by powering down an hour before bed tonight and two tomorrow. Or try just 10 minutes to wind down with a book, prayer, or meditation and use a white noise machine to block out loud noises.
Small change #3: Learn how to cope with stress.
A demanding career, raising kids, financial worry, and challenging relationships will all cause you stress, but if you let it overwhelm you, it can take actually make you sick. Try to set boundaries at work or with family members. Find an outlet where you can let off steam like a sweat session on the treadmill, a bubble bath, or a glass of wine with your bestie. Plus, just 25 minutes, 3 days a week of mindfulness meditation can also reduce stress, a recent study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology finds.
Small change #4: Find happiness.
It might be hard to put yourself first when there are so many other people putting demands on you, but making time for things that energize you will make you happier and may actually make you healthier.
So even if you’re not intrinsically an optimist, try to look for the positive in one situation today and see if you can make it a habit. Or block out time every day for a hobby, a new fitness class, or time to chat with your partner. You’ll be more relaxed and balanced, and overall, healthy.