I just turned 41 years old. (THAT'S why I have 41 tips. No other reason for that stupid, odd AND prime number.) "They" may say that 40 is the new 30, but still. I am aware that this body has logged in more than 4 decades.
My health is important to me because I want to be around for a while. I look forward to grandchildren someday, and would like to have to energy to play with them.
And for now? Well, I work hard to look and feel my best. Every year for the past several years, I have visited the age guesser on the boardwalk to hear a stranger's honest assessment of my appearance. OK, yes, it's vain, but I believe looking younger (naturally) on the outside is an indication of how healthy you might be on the inside. I'll be giving up this year, because after turning 40 last year, I was finally satisfied to hear I looked like I was 31.
I may not be the best health guru to follow. I have no degrees in health-related fields, but I do read a lot. I have been able to lose all the weight I had gained from giving birth to 3 children (including that last stubborn 10 pounds). My actual weight is a bit of a scary number, but due to the amount of muscle I have, my doctor has told me my weight is optimal.
Truth be told too, I am not rail thin. This is because I don't always adhere to what I know is right. (Another reason this is all just good "advice." I am not a health professional and my job is not on the line here.) I eat wayyy too much processed sugar. Ice cream is my nemesis. If I could fix that, I would have a rockin' body. I'm satisfied with what I have for now, so I'm not quite ready to cut the cord on my little addiction yet. In the meantime, I do the best I can with everything else.
I have been asked why I haven't changed much since high school. Following most of what I'm giving you is my secret. Well, maybe not so much a secret. I love telling people what I know will help them!
This is the first of a 4-part blog post. Today, I share general tips to have a healthy body and mind. Next week, I'll talk about food, then exercise. Finally, I wrap up with 10 good habits to keep to stay healthy. So stay with me! If you pick just one new thing to try from each list, you'll be on your way to a healthier self in no time.
Body & Mind:
1. Stress Outlet
Always have a go-to (non-destructive) way to let out stress. Exercise is good; eating is not. Walking, talking, writing, punching a heavy bag are all good ways to lower your blood pressure. Seeking revenge is destructive.
Talking helps. For me, once I let it out through my mouth, it isn't stuck in my brain anymore and I can forget it. Also, your friend might be able to tell you about similar situations in her life, which helps you feel less alone.
Stroking a cat or dog has been proven to reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure. That's why pets have been allowed in nursing homes and hospitals. My daughter had a visit from the "therapy dog" when she was in the PICU last year, and honestly, it's all she remembers about the hospital. Now she seriously wants a dog. (But that's another story.) Try it. I have nearly pet the hair off many a cat when I really wanted to strangle a kid.
Why is fiber important if you are not 80 years old? First of all, it helps you feel full, so you don't have the need to gorge yourself in meals and snacks. Also, it helps keep everything from hanging around in your stomach or intestines. It kind of encourages trash collection and moves out what doesn't belong. Keep everything moving! Waste that is sitting around slows you down.
You could eat the exact same menu of food one day, and have a completely different calorie output for the day than eating it in a different order on another day. Does that make sense? Probably not, because you are thinking Calories In - Calories Out = Weight Gained/Lost.
Don't forget to factor in metabolism. Your metabolism does not have a number, because it is constantly changing. Your rate of burning calories is greater after a workout (MUCH greater after an intense workout - no matter how long you were working out.) Therefore, eating a cheeseburger right after an intense workout will burn more calories than after a period of being sedentary. After a workout, your body is SEARCHING for calories to turn to energy for rebuilding the muscles your just tore and need to repair.
Feeding your body the RIGHT TYPE of calories after an intense workout is also a bonus. Feeding your body protein at this point is a better help to building muscle. Adding fat actually helps to support the protein and keep it active for you, getting it TO the muscles. (Carbohydrates and sugar at this point do not go to muscle repair. They go to energy usage. Therefore, carbohydrates are the best thing to have BEFORE a workout, so that you have plenty of energy to complete a good workout.)
So, you need a snack? Think about what your body is doing or will be doing. If you aren't doing anything but sitting around, that's the best time to eat light food, like fruit or veggies. Save the "meaty" food for after your most active time of day.
Our bodies have so many needs. It's hard to meet them all with the food we eat. And as we get older, our needs change. So even if we think we have found a way to get everything our bodies need through food, suddenly, our needs change. Vitamins might not be the best way to get the nutrients we need, but they're better than not getting them at all. Talk to your doctor about what you need most.
7. Chiropractic care
Necessary? YES! Especially to those who stay physically active. Pounding your body on a treadmill, on the road, or anywhere else will likely put your alignment off. When that happens, you put stress on other joints and risk injury by overusing and overcompensating. Also, when everything is aligned properly, all your systems WORK properly, by not getting crammed into awkward positions. Insurance will likely cover this preventative care, because companies are starting to realize its importance.
8. Avoid Carbonation
I was never a big soda drinker, but on occasion, I used to like a Diet Coke. Knowing that there was no benefit whatsoever in soda, I decided to switch over almost completely to water. But sometimes, I still wanted some fizzy sweetness to go with my pizza. (Don't judge.) So, I moved over to carbonated water drinks. I'll still have one if I really need it, but not frequently. You see, oesteoperosis runs in my family - strongly - and since I have oesteopenia already, I must be careful about things that eat away at my bones… such as carbonated drinks!
Sounds funny, doesn't it? To be healthy, you need to breathe. Because, really, to stay alive, you need to breathe. What I'm talking about here is taking time on occasion to think about your breathing. Take some deep breaths. Hold your breath and let it out. All of this helps to regulate your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure, even if just for a moment.
Yup, it's been proven. I've seen several studies that show practicing your faith makes you a healthier person. People who pray DO get over sickness more quickly than those who don't. And it is just hard to explain the stability you feel in your life from walking rightly with God. I recommend it.
So which of the above is new to you? Or which did you already know and are now moved to try? Don't forget to come back next week to see what I think about food!
Because I love even numbers and lists!