Most people want to live a healthy, fulfilling, and happy life.
Yet many fail to stick to important healthy lifestyle goals, like losing weight or getting in better shape due to not being able to change their bad, unhealthy habits.
The trick is you have to replace your bad habits with good ones as discussed in my previous article Eliminate your Bad Habits.
In simple terms good health really is just a matter of developing the right habits that will increase your energy, keep illness and disease away, give you a toned and fit body, and establish and maintain mental fitness too.
A study published in 2009 in the British Medical Journal shows that you cut the risk of having a stroke in half by doing the following four things: being active for 30 minutes a day, eating five daily servings of fruit and vegetables, and avoiding cigarettes and excess alcohol. A pretty strong motivation I’d say.
So it is clear that to start living a healthier lifestyle, you need to incorporate healthy habits into your life. But which ones do you need to use? A healthy lifestyle is built on the foundation of healthy habits. The good news is that you don’t need to change everything about yourself at once. Just pick something from the list I’m about to give you that resonates with you, apply it consistently until it is easy, and then pick another one. It’s as simple as that. Small lifestyle changes can make a real difference to your health.
“Optimal Health is a journey taken one step, one habit, and one day at a time.” Dr. Wayne S. Andersen
Let me now provide you with the essential healthy habits you should be adopting.
1. Eat healthily by upping your Fruit & Vegetables
Fruit and Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, yet research shows large sections of the population eat only one portion a day or none at all. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check. They are filling yet low in calories and naturally low in fat. Contain lots of fibre which helps to keep your bowels healthy and have plenty of vitamins and minerals, which are needed to keep you healthy. Just a few really good reasons to have them in your daily eating plan.
You should eat at least five portions – ideally seven to nine portions – of a variety of fruit or vegetables each day. A portion is equal to one medium-sized piece of fruit such as an apple, three tablespoons of veg, or a handful of smaller fruits. Fruit and vegetables include fresh, frozen, tinned, or dried varieties, and fruit juice.
2. Choosing Whole grain foods for health
Out with the white rice and pasta. The regular consumption of whole grain foods has been linked by researchers to a reduction of several diseases including heart disease and cancer. Whole grain foods are an important part of your diet because they provide many nutrients which are in short supply in our diet such as fibre, resistant starch, and certain minerals and vitamins. Whole grain foods tend to be low in fat and ‘bulk’ the diet. This can create a feeling of ‘fullness’ and may therefore aid weight loss. Whole-grain versions of rice, bread, cereal, flour and pasta can be found at most supermarkets and I assure you they taste just as good as how healthy they are for you.
3. Snack the Healthy Way
It’s all too easy when we are on the run to resort to sugar and fat laden processed foods and snacks. We should eat something every 3 hours or so, therefore snacking is important, but the right snacks. I strongly recommend fruit snacks be eaten mid-morning and mid-afternoon. This makes sure your blood sugar levels don’t drop to badly and cause sudden hunger and then eating of unhealthy snacks. Having a fruit snack that is about 100 calories, give or take, will help you add to your intake of essential nutrients, can add fibre that will help you feel full. So snack away but choose fruit.
4. Eat Breakfast Every Morning
Way too many people don’t eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. “Breakfast like a King, lunch like a lord and dine like a pauper.” It can help to ‘kick-start’ the metabolism after sleep and gets the body going again. Your energy levels are low in the mornings, and your body needs an energy boost, in the form of food, to get you going. And that is one of the reasons why eating breakfast is of utmost importance. By eating a healthy breakfast, you set a positive tone for the day by having made a good health decision right away. You won’t then a few hours into your day find yourself starving and heading for the nearest bar of chocolate.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Drink a minimum of eight cups of water every day. We all know that water is a necessity of life, but that doesn’t stop us from not drinking enough of it. Monitoring your water consumption is an essential part of good nutrition. Water makes up 45% to 70% of a person’s bodyweight and a person can survive only a few days without water, though it can go nearly a month without food. Water is needed by every living cell and almost every process that takes place within the body is dependent on water. Drinking water and other fluids is absolutely vital to keep our body healthy and in good working order. Most people don’t drink enough water for their daily activities, let alone to compensate for water lost through sweat during exercise. Turn that tap, fill a water bottle and keep it by your side. Then keep drinking from it.
6. Drink Green Tea Every Day
Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. Studies have found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure. Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. Basically its good for you and refreshing. I love mine flavoured with Lemon.
7. Be Active
Make leisure time active time. Don’t sit on that couch watching TV all night. Pick up an activity monitor and begin to move more. The recommended number of steps is 10,000 a day. Avoid being sedentary by moving around for 2 minutes out of every 20 minutes sitting down. Physical inactivity contributes to the development of more than 20 chronic conditions and diseases – so being really active makes sense. On the weekend wash your car instead of taking it to car wash, walk to the shops, go dancing. Find ways to get active that you’ll enjoy. Yep tell your partner Larry said its healthy so go do that too.
8. Vigorously exercise
Our bodies need lots of physical activity to work well. The exercise we do needs to be vigorous. Just get out there and get your heart rate up. A good general goal is to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. High intensity training has been shown to be more effective than other forms of training. The key principle of high intensity interval training (HIT) is alternating short periods of maximal effort with less intense recovery periods. Read about it in a previous article. HIIT Training.
Walking is excellent for you and is an activity that anyone can do and doesn’t require any equipment.
If you feel you can do a bit more, building up to more energetic exercise and adding in some strength training will increase your fitness and with it the benefits to health.
9. Get enough Sleep
Shakespeare described sleep as “the chief nourisher in life’s feast”, acknowledging that for most of us deep rest is necessary for keeping body, mind and spirit in good form. Sleep is a natural part of everybody’s life, but many people know very little about how important it is, and some even try to get by with little sleep. Sleep is important for our minds and bodies to function normally.
Getting enough continuous quality sleep contributes to how we feel and perform the next day, but also has a huge impact on the overall quality of our lives. Getting enough sleep refers to the amount of sleep you need to feel rested and alert the next day. Most sleep experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Although some people can get along with less sleep, others find they need as much as 10 hours per night to feel rested the next day.
10. Use stress management relaxation techniques
With the hectic pace and demands of modern life, many people feel stressed and over-worked. Your stress and tiredness could be making you unhappy, impatient and frustrated. It can even affect your health. A simple ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation, or progressive muscular relaxation, two stress management relaxation techniques, can help you to overcome your stress and find some inner peace and balance. All day, every day, your mind will be whirling to the tune of its own internal drama. You are subject to constant sensory input, your reactions to every single incident, every scrap of memory, every concern about the future, all tumbling through your mind. It is so essential to just take time out to relax both your mind and body. It really does help.
11. Practice Good Hygiene
You should make every effort to keep yourself clean and therefore healthy. Along with a regular bath or shower, you should also be practicing good dental habits, which means brushing and flossing for a few minutes every day, morning and night. Good hygiene keeps you smelling like a socially respectable person, helps prevent the spread of infections, improves food safety, and just makes life more generally clean and pleasant. Please wash your hands after going to the bathroom or before handling food, keep your living space relatively clean, etc. It will do good for you.
12. Practice gratitude
Your wellbeing is central to a healthy lifestyle. Your worries, anxieties and troubles are its worst enemy. A positive attitude is essential for peak living. One of the key parts to a positive attitude is to acknowledge what is already going well in our lives and appreciate them for their value. This is an attitude of gratitude. Showing gratitude is not to deny life’s difficulties. No doubt you are experiencing, or you have experienced, many challenges, uncertainties, and disappointments in your life. Gratitude balances out your tendency to focus on the negative, and can even lift a dark mood. You find the things in your life, no matter how small that you can be thankful for.
13. Live a Balanced Life
A balanced life means you give equal consideration to all aspects of your life: relationships, work, fitness and health, and emotional well-being. The challenge is to balance what we must do with what we enjoy and choose to do. This is not always easy. If, however, we are unable to reduce stress and manage a well balanced life there can be physical and/or emotional health consequences. A well balanced life is essential for personal effectiveness, peace of mind and living well, as well as being essential to good health. So ignore none of the important areas and you’ll enjoy the benefits in many ways.
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” Thomas Merton.
There you are 13 good healthy habits for you to slowly introduce into your life. Remember one small step at a time.
Enjoy good health.