Getting healthy and making new lifestyle choices can seem very overwhelming at times. As Americans in this 2017 society we want things NOW without waiting or sacrificing anything. Too many weight loss programs, whether they are nutrition or fitness based (or both), promise rapid weight loss. Oftentimes this is accomplished by working out harder, eating less (oftentimes still allowed to eat the same junk just less of it) or some sort of diet that is rather restrictive and likely missing nutrients such as “the grapefruit diet” or even the Adkins diet where people tended to fill their faces with butter, bacon and meat (all of which I do enjoy from time to tome but should not be the main focus of dietary intake). Oftentimes missing from these program are the other components of healthy living including, sleep, stress management, healthy social relationships, etc.
Getting and staying healthy and developing new habits takes time. Some researchers say it takes as little as 21 days to as long as about 2 months form a new habit. My challenge to you is to think about some unhealthy habits you want to change–quit drinking soda, cut back in sugar, not enough sleep, not enough physical activity, etc., and pick one, maybe two of these, and work on it for the next several weeks until it becomes a habit and then start working on someone else. Achieving and maintaining health is a marathon, not a sprint! There are no quick fixes to anything. Sure, some of these crazy diets and fitness programs may have some immediate results, but you know as well as I do that people do NOT stick with these. Living healthy, like from a Primal approach, is really sensible and gets easier with time. I’ve been living a Primal lifestyle for 7-8 years now and staying healthy is really effortless. It really is a work in progress for me too as I am constantly evaluating my situation and circumstances and making sure I am the best version of myself. The past year I have focused on sleeping more as I have not been too good about this in the past and actually working out less. The result? I feel better, feel healthier and haven’t lost any of my physical abilities.
Things you can consider doing now to improve health. Pick one or two and have it become a habit. Then pick something else and keep going with it. You will continue to get healthier as time goes on.
- Eliminate wheat and grains (see my last post on the details of this explaining why this is a good idea https://parnhamhealth.com/2017/07/03/whats-with-wheat/)
- Walk at least 10,000 steps every day. Better yet, make a point to go for a walk with your spouse, your kids, a good friend, etc.
- Sleep more. Shoot for 7-8 hours/night. Work on developing better sleep habits (see my post https://parnhamhealth.com/2017/06/17/sleep/) You WILL feel better with improved sleep
- Try intermittent fasting–it sounds a bit scary at first but can be a very effective tool for immediate and long term health https://parnhamhealth.com/2017/05/29/intermittent-fasting-what-is-it-and-is-it-right-for-you/
- Improve social relationships. Take that time to meet with a friend for coffee and catch up. Go visit your mom, dad, grandparents, etc. Join some sort of accountability group for added support. I have a great group of guys I meet with regularly who keep me on track. I also have some great guys I trail run with fairly regularly with on Saturday mornings.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter or mentor underprivileged youth. Helping the needy will give you a sense of peace and will make you more thankful for the life you have while at the same time you will be helping others.
- Make a point to eat more plants. Plants are full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Basically, eating lots of plants translates to better health. Plus they fill you up and won’t spike you blood sugar leaving you feeling hungry.
- Cut back on sugar. If you drink 3 Polar Pops every day, cut back to 1 and eventually none. You will lose weight and protect your health going forward. Learn to like dark chocolate if you have a sweet tooth. Indulge in a 70% Cacao or higher dark chocolate on occasion.
- Work less. Leave your work at work. Quit checking and responding to emails once you are home. Pay attention to your family. Don’t pick up extra shifts if you don’t have to, especially if it results in missing important things like your kid’s ballgames, extracurricular activities, etc.
- Put down the phone. Our society is addicted to our smartphones and tablets. When you are home or with friends, be present. Literally shut off the phone or put it in another room so you are not tempted to look at it every 2 minutes. Trust me, that “perfect family” on Facebook has the same problems you and your significant family do! There are studies out there revealing that constant social media connections is quite unhealthy (physically and emotionally).
- Start a strength training program. Keep it simple. Have someone who knows what they are doing show you basic exercises. It can be simple bodyweight–think squats, push ups, planks. Do it 2-3 times/week and can be as short as 15-20 minute sessions. You don’t necessarily have to join a Crossfit gym or hire a personal trainer. If you are a newbie to strength training it is important to start with the basics and do mostly just bodyweight exercises.
- Sprint (once in a while). If you are exercising regularly consider adding some sprinting to your regimen. Warm up, sprint for 10-30 seconds. Rest until recovered. Repeat 3-5 times. Done. This will melt fat off and condition you like nobody’s business (along with eating right of course). Sprint every 7-10 days and only on a day where you are rested and recovered (can be taxing on the central nervous system).
- Get out in nature more. Try and find a trail to go hiking or find a park close by and walk barefoot through the grass. Connecting with God’s creation will leave you feeling refreshed, energized and amazed. It also has measurable health benefits for those who do it often.
This list could go on and on. Think of 1 or 2 things you want to change and the action you need to take to change it and then do it! For even higher likelihood of success find an accountability partner to join you. That’s it for today!