Habit 4: Take Care of Your Body from The “Habits for Well-Being” Series
Captain Obvious here! I almost feel silly writing this post. Of course, you need to take care of your body! You only get one. We have been told this in one way or another our entire lives, yet many of us (yours truly included) find it so hard to stick with a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Many of us lead busy lifestyles, often sitting at a desk all day and working long hours. This lack of physical activity can contribute to weight gain, fatigue, and poor health. We may also find it difficult to access healthy foods due to a lack of time or money. In addition, our current lifestyles can make us turn towards unhealthy foods such as processed and fast foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt. This can lead to an unhealthy diet, negatively affecting our overall health and well-being.
Let’s face it. Even with all the challenges in the world and our daily lives, we have it pretty easy. TOO EASY! You don’t even have to walk through the grocery store to get your food for the week. You can order it online and have it delivered directly to your door if you want. Even worse, you can have those magically tempting fast foods delivered to your door with a click of a button. It doesn’t even require the steps to the car for a trip to the drive-thru anymore.
It seems like we are dangerously close to a scene out of WALL-E! (BTW, the stats quoted in this link are frightening)
If only we had to walk miles a day to hunt and gather our food, it wouldn’t be so hard to eat right and stay in shape. We’d also probably starve.
The good news is there is a middle ground.
First, let’s define what a healthy diet and exercise look like. Unless your career path is body-building or athletics, it’s NOT 6 hours a day in the gym, counting calories or macros. Nor is there a true need to be “ripped.” That is social media and your ego speaking. Let them go!
A healthy diet consists of nutrient-dense foods low in unhealthy fats, salt, and added sugars. A healthy diet should include a variety of foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and lean proteins. Exercise is any activity that increases physical activity, such as running, swimming, or weight training. Regular exercise helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke while improving physical condition and overall well-being.
A healthy diet and exercise can provide numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. These include improved muscle strength, cardiovascular health, stress management, and digestion. Eating a balanced diet can help to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Exercise has also been shown to boost mood and increase energy levels. Additionally, regular exercise may improve sleep quality and can help to reduce symptoms of depression.
Eat Right! (aka Healthy Diet)
A healthy diet should include a variety of nutrient-dense foods to ensure a balanced intake of essential vitamins and minerals. This includes:
Protein provides the body with amino acids used to grow and repair cells. Foods that provide protein include:
- Soy products
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. Carbohydrates can be found in:
- Grains such as oats and rice
- Starchy foods like potatoes and sweetcorn
- Fruit and vegetables
Fats provide essential fatty acids for cell formation, hormones, and insulation from cold temperatures. Fats can be obtained from:
- Animal sources such as butter and cream
- Plant-based sources such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals support overall health by helping to break down food into energy, create new cells and strengthen bones and teeth. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals are:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Dairy products
- Whole grains
- Oily fish
Lastly, water helps with the digestion process, maintains body temperature, and promotes hydration in the body. Water can be found naturally in many foods, including fruits and vegetables but drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day is essential for hydration.
Get Moving! (aka Exercise)
Regular exercise is important for overall health and well-being. Types of exercise include:
Cardiovascular activities can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Activities such as:
- Jumping Rope
- Kettlebell Swings
- Elliptical Machines
- Stair Climbing
Start small and when you are ready to level up. Try integrating these into a High-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine.
Strength training builds muscle mass, bone density, and endurance by lifting weights or using resistance bands. I know it’s tempting, but remember not to skip legs day. 🙂
Stretching the body regularly can have many benefits. By increasing flexibility and range of motion, stretching can improve posture, reduce strain on muscles and joints, and help to prevent injury. With regular stretching, you may also experience reduced muscle tension and improved circulation.
Other types of exercise
Other types of exercise, such as Pilates, Tai Chi, and Yoga, can improve posture, breathing, and concentration.
Making changes to your habits can sometimes seem like a daunting task. But starting small is the best way to get lasting results. Taking on too much at once can be overwhelming and cause you to give up on your efforts before you even start. By transitioning slowly and setting achievable, incremental goals, it is possible to make significant strides in forming new, sustainable habits. Try adding one of these small changes for 30 days and then add another.
Small Ideas for Eating Right:
- If you have food delivered, then have it delivered from your local grocery store rather than fast food.
- Take time to savor and enjoy each bite of food during meals. You will be amazed at how much faster your feel full and subsequently eat less.
- Reduce your portions during meals.
- Make healthy meals convenient! Try prepping your meals for the week on Sunday. Healthy meals, that is! We often eat poorly out of convenience.
- Swap sugary snacks for healthier alternatives like fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid eating late at night or right before bedtime.
- Start drinking more water throughout the day.
Small Ideas to Get Moving:
- Can you spare 7 minutes in your day and SUCK IT UP? I guarantee you can. There are many apps with simple 7-minute routines to start your habit. I recommend starting with the J&J app. It’s free, so no excuses.
- Take a walk during your 10-minute time-blocking breaks.
- Stand Up! (nod to Joanna) Many of us spend most of our day in front of a computer screen. Trying a standing desk to get off your butt! It doesn’t have to be expensive. Raise your monitor(s) and keyboard using a board and some boxes to get started.
- Take the stairs instead of using the elevator or escalator.
- Find friends to join you in exercising or an online community for accountability. Hell, shoot me a message. I’ll be your accountability partner.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. (After 30 days of the 7-minute routine)
- Try out different activities like yoga, pilates, or swimming to find what works best.
- Enjoy your workout by listening to music or your favorite podcast while exercising.
Making healthy lifestyle choices doesn’t have to be complex or overwhelming! Taking small steps and setting achievable JOYs can significantly impact your health. Start by adding one of these simple tips into your daily routine and gradually add more as time goes on. Remember that it is essential to find activities that are enjoyable for you so that you stay motivated; don’t forget to bring in friends, family members, or even an online community for accountability and support along the way!
Drop the Big Mac, get moving today, and start living healthier!