Too Busy To Be Healthy?

A key ingredient to adopting a healthier lifestyle is choosing small, consistent changes over a period of time. There’s no way to sugar coat it, the biggest factor in being healthier for many of us means changing what you do, not just once, but making long term consistent change that becomes an ingrained part of your new healthier lifestyle.

Ingredients for Good Health

Like a great cook knows how to combine individual ingredients into a delicious meal, being healthy means working  out the key ingredients (and amounts) you need to provide to your body on a daily basis. Along with making good health a priority, the major ingredients in the recipe for good health are knowing what to eat, when to eat, how much  water to drink, when to sleep, when to be active, when to rest and how to manage the daily pressures of life.

What to Eat

When it comes to what you eat – one size does not fit all.
Finding the “eating plan” that works for you long term is not about adopting the latest fad diet for a few weeks or months, it’s about making choices that support and sustain you as an individual.
Try these options for making sustainable change to your eating plan:
• Consult a nutritionist or health professional who specialises in Metabolic Typing.  They will help find the right  proportion of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils for your individual needs.  And it may be that all you need to do  is change the proportions on your plate in order to be healthier and feel better.
• Have a stash of healthy snacks at your desk or in your bag rather than heading to the nearest bakery or vending  machine
– fruit, a few nuts or a low calorie protein bar are great options
• Take a few extra minutes in the morning to have a healthy breakfast avoiding the high fat, high calorie, last minute options on the way to the office
• Cut back to 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day by gradually reducing your intake each week

When to Eat

Our bodies have an inbuilt survival mechanism.  If there is limited food available, our metabolism slows down to help us survive until food is readily available again. We don’t necessarily have a scarcity of food these days but if we skip a  meal, our body thinks there is a shortage and will immediately go into storage mode in order to survive. Eating every 3-4 hours is a great way to boost your metabolism. Eating breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and optionally supper, is a great way to keep your metabolism ticking over throughout the day, regulates blood sugar and can alleviate that end-of-day binge because you haven’t eaten all day.

How much Water?

Many ailments that we experience today, from headaches to tiredness or sore joints can be attributed to a lack of water in our bodies. If your body doesn’t have enough water to function optimally, it can result in dehydration,  constipation, excess body fat, poor muscle tone, digestive complications, muscle soreness – even water-retention problems.
But how much water is enough?
Generally*, for every 1kg of body weight, you need to drink  33ml of water.
So if you’re 100kg, you need to drink 3.3 litres of water each day. 
If you’re currently drinking little or no water, please don’t go out and down 2 or 3 litres of water immediately. Remember, small consistent changes are key. Increase your water intake gradually, by 1 or 2 glasses over the next couple of days and then add in a couple more over the following few days and weeks until you are regularly drinking the right amount for your body. And water means water…..not coffee, not tea, not juice or soft drink, just water.
* This is a general guideline and if you are concerned about your calculated water intake you should consult your health professional before making major changes.

Sleep

7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep a night is an important factor in weight management and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is during this time of rest and recuperation that our bodies and brains recuperate from the day’s activities, both mental and physical. In an ideal world, we’d all be in bed by 10 to 10:30pm and up at 6 to 6:30am.
Throughout the night, our body undergoes mostly physical repair between 10pm and 2:00am and then focus moves to mental or psychological repair between 2:00am and 6:00am or until we awaken. So if you’re not getting to bed until after midnight during the working week, you’ve missed out on 10 hours of physiological sleep by the time the weekend hits – no wonder you want to spend the whole weekend sleeping on the couch. If bed by 10pm is a real challenge for you, start by reducing your bedtime by 15-30 mins for one week and then another 15-30 mins the next week, gradually working your way closer to a 10-10:30pm bedtime.

Stress

Ever heard of the “flight or fight” response?  A primitive, in-built stress response that elevates heart rate and blood pressure, increases sweating, moves blood from internal organs to skin and muscles in preparation for fight or flight. Makes sense if you’re running from a bear or lion like our ancestors experienced but the difference between pre-historic times and today is that once the danger had passed and we were safe, our bodies reverted to a balanced state.
These days it seems stress and the busyness of life is unavoidable and our body is often in a constant stressed state, never getting a chance to re-establish balance before the next stress arrives. It’s for this reason that you need to take some time out for yourself each day, whether it’s meditating, yoga, walking, sitting quietly or another relaxing activity, allowing your body to dissipate the effects of the stress response. Taking some time for yourself, even if it’s only 10 to 20 minutes, can be a great way to manage stress levels. 

Being Active

Being active is another key component to being healthy and can help dissipate some of the daily stresses we experience. When you’re thinking about being more active, you’ve got to make it fun…or at least enjoyable. If it’s fun and you enjoy what you do, you’re more likely to do it on a consistent basis and improving your health and fitness is about being active on a consistent basis. So what do you enjoy doing and how can you make that a part of your physical activity program? Take the kids to a park and kick a ball around. Drag a friend out for a walk and a chat. Catching up with friends? Why not shoot a few hoops, go for a walk, a bike ride or do something active together. Perhaps yoga is an option, or taking a dance class to meet new people and enjoy the music? Being active doesn’t have to be structured activity either. Hop off the bus a stop or 2 earlier, take the stairs instead of the lift. Grab a coffee, walk and talk for a casual meeting.
Go for a walk at lunchtime, find a nice spot to eat lunch rather than sit at your desk. Good Health is about doing the little things right every day. Reality tells us that this can be challenging 100% of the time so aim to do the little things 80% of the time and give yourself the best opportunity for long term sustainable health.

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