Let me start off by saying: I am not a fitness or health guru. (Great lead for a health post, right?)
What I am is a regular woman…mom…person who is trying to live my best life and walk a more healing path for both my physical and mental health.
These are a few steps that I’ve taken to further my health journey, and I’d like to share them with you.
Drink Plenty Of Water
You’ve heard this before, right?
People are so quick to push water whenever a health discussion comes up that you’d think it was the foundation of healthy living or something.
Well…it kind of is.
- Water helps you feel full, which can aid with weight loss
- It keeps you regular, which helps your digestive system
- Water flushes out toxins from and carries nutrients to the body, keeping you in tip-top shape
- Staying hydrated can help prevent cramps and headaches
- Water can help you stay energized and feel awake, as even mild dehydration can make us tired and unable to focus
Try drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning, drink a glass of water at least 30 minutes before eating, and drink a glass of water before you go to bed.
I promise you’ll feel better if you do!
Eat More Fiber
There are so many fad diets out there. I should know: I’ve tried a lot of them.
One positive takeaway that I have gotten from these diets is that I have learned a lot about the fundamentals of nutrition.
Regardless of what your goals are for your other nutrients (such as carbs, fat, or protein), you should absolutely focus on eating plenty of fiber.
Studies have shown that most Americans do not eat enough daily fiber.
Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, and men should aim for 38 grams of fiber per day.
Many people only consume 15 grams of fiber per day!
Soluble fibers form a gel like substance when digested and this substance slows the absorption of sugar, which can help maintain your insulin levels, and they can also help lower your LDL — or “bad” — cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber is not broken down and absorbed by our bodies, so it remains mostly in tact as it moves throughout our system. This helps flush our colon of toxins and waste, keeps us regular, and can help aid with preventing inflammatory bowel diseases and constipation issues.
Fiber also tends to make us feel full, which can help with weight loss!
To increase your fiber intake, eat more vegetables (dark colored vegetables tend to have more fiber), fruits with the skin on (apples and raspberries are great options), whole grains, and legumes (peas, beans, etc.)
Ditch Added Sugars
I’m gonna step onto my soapbox for just a minute.
America has a sugar problem.
A recent finding by Pew Research Center found that as of 2014 Americans were consuming an average of 95 grams of sugar per day.
To put that in perspective, the general recommendation for daily sugar intake is 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men.
Studies have shown that consuming too much added sugar can lead to obesity, inflammation, insulin resistance, and an increased risk for a variety of diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, and liver disease.
Added sugars are different than natural sugar, which occurs naturally in foods, such as in fruit or milk.
Food labels do not differentiate between added and natural sugar, but you can tell the difference by looking at the ingredients.
Added sugars are things like syrups (corn syrup, cane syrup, agave syrup), honey, molasses, and things ending in -ose (sucrose, fructose, lactose, etc.)
Americans most frequently consume added sugar in soft drinks, juice, pastries & desserts, candy, and sugary breakfast foods.
Added sugar has no health benefits, but it comes with a laundry list of health risks.
There is absolutely no reason we should be consuming as much sugar as we are. It’s wreaking havoc on our bodies.
The next time you’re pouring cereal for your kids or popping open a can of soda for yourself, take a look at the sugar content on the food label.
Then think long and hard about what you’re putting into your body.
Is it helping you or hurting you?
Find Ways To Move More
The benefits of regular exercise are well established.
I don’t need to preach to you about cardio, or strength training, or stretching.
Believe me, I understand how easy it is to get trapped in a sedentary lifestyle.
I spend the majority of my work day behind a desk. When I come home I spend time more time sitting down at the dinner table eating or helping with homework, or sitting beside the tub as I give my kids a bath. By the time the night’s over I want to fall into bed.
All justifications aside, I urge you to get up and move more.
Physical activity is essential to good health
- Physical activity is proven to boost endorphins, which improves our mood
- It gives us more energy
- Frequent movement keeps our muscles healthy and strong by helping prevent muscle loss, which tends to increase as we get older
- Physical activity can help ease chronic pain and inflammation
Basically, there is not a down side to moving more. It will make you feel better. Period.
Don’t feel like you have to make a drastic change all at once. Every good choice, no matter how small, is important.
Take the stairs. Walk around the block. Do a few more chores around the house.
Make sure you get up and move a little bit every hour.
Before you know it you will have formed a habit of being more active and your activity level will only increase from there.
Then you will have built a part of the foundation for living a healthier life!
Practice Self Care
The last item on this list is often the first thing that we abandon during times of stress or when we’re very busy (which is always, right?)
When you practice self care, you’re not only helping yourself…you’re helping everyone in your life.
We are happier, more functional people when our personal needs are met.
There are many different forms of self care.
Self care can mean “rewarding” yourself, such as going to the salon, buying a new outfit, or indulging in a food treat.
It can be taking time to relax and reset, by reading a book, or putting together a puzzle, or taking a nap.
Self care also means making good decisions and making yourself a priority.
Don’t skip lunch. Make time to exercise. Set boundaries in your relationships. Believe in your self worth.
When our mental and physical health are in harmony, we are able to be the better version of ourselves.
Talk To Me
What are some suggestions you would make to someone who wants to lead a healthier life? Tell me in the comments below!