Three steps to better health for World Health Day

March 19, 2018

By Jim Crowder, CA personal trainer

At its core, health equals energy. If you are healthy, you feel better, and you have more physical and mental energy throughout your day. Many people feel like they lead a healthy lifestyle, but there is a difference between just being healthy, and actively seeking good health. It all boils down to preparedness and structure.

3 FIRST STEPS TOWARD BETTER HEALTH

At its core, health equals energy. If you are healthy, you feel better, and you have more physical and mental energy throughout your day. Many people feel like they lead a healthy lifestyle, but there is a difference between just being healthy, and actively seeking good health. It all boils down to preparedness and structure.

Healthy Eating

Pre-planning weekly meals, shopping for healthy, organic foods and limiting or eliminating processed foods are a great way to start. Far too often, we find ourselves hungry at lunch or dinner time with no healthy options in sight, and we default to fast food choices. For the rest of the day, our bodies are working overtime to process these unhealthy substances, thereby draining our physical and mental energy (resulting in the mid-afternoon “crash,” where all we want to do is take a nap but often turn to caffeine instead).

Rather than scrambling out the door in the morning, with lunch being the furthest thing from your mind, make a healthy lunch-to-go the night before, along with some healthy snacks like fruits and nuts to graze on throughout the day. But don’t obsess 100% of the time, or it won’t be sustainable. Feel free to splurge now and then, allowing yourself a cheat meal once a week.

Exercise

One simple word can make all the difference in maintaining consistency in your exercise routine: “when.”

Instead of asking yourself “Am I going to exercise today?” you should be asking yourself, “When am I going to exercise today?” Don’t make it optional unless you absolutely have to — and in those cases, get creative. Make it a point to take brisk 10-minute walks a few times as day (bring your dog for company!), or do some basic body weight exercises, which will also help your mental clarity.

Have your workout clothes at the ready, schedule it into your day like it’s a doctor’s appointment and make it a top priority. And if you don’t have a clear-cut, structured exercise routine tailored to your physical age and needs, invest in yourself by consulting with a personal trainer, even if it’s just for a few sessions to set you on your way.

Sleep

Sleep is probably the most overlooked and neglected component of a healthy lifestyle. People want direct results and they view diet and exercise as the fastest route to achieving their health goals. But proper sleep is often viewed as an unnecessary luxury, when in fact, it directly impacts your physical and mental energy, your medical health, and your eating habits.

Sleep deprivation can lead to numerous high risk and sometimes deadly conditions, including high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and obesity. It can also lead to depression and other mood disorders, attention deficit disorder, lowered immunity, a dysfunctional metabolism and negative stress response.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 35% of adults in America aren’t getting enough sleep, and 36.5% are clinically obese. While these similar numbers are not directly linked, numerous studies have shown that sleep deprivation dramatically increases the risk of obesity, in adults as well as children.

Insufficient sleep causes our bodies to produce higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, and lower levels of leptin, the hormone that sends signals to our brain that we are full. This double internal double whammy results in overeating during the day, leading to steady weight gain. And when you’re feeling run down, it’s hard enough to get to the gym in the first place, much less have an effective workout.

Creating a sleep routine can go a long way towards waking up rested, refreshed and full of energy. Start by eliminating caffeine in the afternoon and evening, avoiding excess food and fluids within three hours of bedtime, turning off all electronic devices (phones, tablets, TV) an hour before bedtime, and powering down for the last 30 minutes of your day by reading or meditating.

To help determine your optimal sleep time, keep a sleep log for one week, noting how many hours you sleep each night, and how you feel the following day. This will also help bring awareness to your sleep habits, and how they affect you.

If you have questions about how to better your health through fitness and nutrition, see one of CA’s personal trainers. We will happily give you a free fitness assessment and help you on the path to better health!

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