Here are five simple ways to live a healthier lifestyle.
One of my goals this summer is to continue down the road toward living a healthier lifestyle. I realize that there is a vast array of opinions on what that looks like. In my 41 years of life on this planet, the public understanding has changed like the wind.
I still remember the 3-2-4-4 nutrition mantra from elementary school. A square meal consisted of 3 servings of dairy, 2 servings of meat, 4 servings each of breads/grains and fruits/vegetables. Since then there have been too many food trends to count, many of which contradict each other.
How can we know which way to go when it comes to healthier living?
My gut as well as a little research tell me that these five ways will go far to help you live a healthier lifestyle.
1. Drink more water.
While you can die from drinking too much water, few of us are at risk of that happening. Most of us with our coffee and pop-drinking habits are walking around on the verge of dehydrating ourselves. However, staying adequately hydrated can help us stave off fatigue, headaches, constipation, and a variety of other ailments. The general rule of thumb is to shoot for 8 glasses a day, though the Mayo clinic recommends more.
Need some help to make water more of a regular thing?
- Drink a glass of water when you wake up and another when you go to bed. Sleeping can be very dehydrating. Fuel your body before and after sleep. This gets you two cups toward your goal.
- Keep water handy. Get a favorite water bottle or glass and keep it filled. Set up a row of drinking glasses at night before you go to bed. If you’re nursing a baby, have a ready source of drinking water near your bed and next to the rocking chair.
- Order water when dining out. Not only is the water free, but it’s better for you than most of the other things you could order.
- Try fruit for flavoring. Liven up your water with some citrus or other fruit for flavoring. Make lemon cubes. Try spa water.
- Opt out of caffeinated beverages. Coffee, tea, and soda can dehydrate you. If you’re going to drink them, drink a glass of water for every other beverage you imbibe.
- Add bubbles. It may be an acquired taste for some, but I love to treat myself to Pellegrino or other bubbly water, usually with ice and lime.
2. Eat more veggies.
I’ve done a lot of food reading over the years. I’ve received lots of handouts from doctors on the “ideal diet”. I’ve chatted with lots of “crunchy” friends. None of them completely agree with one another, but no one can argue with the idea that we should eat more veggies.
There are so many ways to prepare them, and so many tasty renditions, that we shouldn’t really get bored of vegetables. Fresh, in-season, and local are typically better in flavor, price, and quality. Frozen is a great, economical second. Organic is ideal, but the availability of affordable organics varies by region.
Do the best you can with the budget you have, just increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. The more real food you buy as opposed to processed, manufacturer “food products”, the better you’ll be.
- Make the Most of Summer Produce (and fall and spring)
- How to Use Your Produce Box
- 8 Great Ways to Get 8 a Day
- Consider a Whole 30
3. Start exercising.
Yes, it is funny that I’m saying this. What’s even funnier is that I’ve worked out, truly worked out, like an hour a day, 12 times in the last 2 weeks! Holy smokes!
Even my husband is stunned. This is not the woman he married. But, he is thrilled because he knows how much pain I’ve had in my back, and he wants me to feel better. We both know that I’ll be healthier if I put in some time.
Exercise is one of the habits I regret not having cultivated earlier. I want to be a better example for my kids than I have been. For the last few years, I’ve been doing the bare minimum (if we can call it that), just flirting with exercise. Now, I’m committing to a regular regime.
So, how do you work it in?
- Get a workout video and try it out 2-3 times per week before the kids wake up.
- Load the baby into the stroller and take a walk.
- Join a gym and make a schedule to go. Most offer free childcare.
- Find a friend to work out with.
- Read the Happy Housewife’s series on getting fit and then just do it.
4. Sleep more.
Years of night waking with babies had me conditioned to function on five or six hours of sleep. Function, yes. Thrive, no. Eventually, those late nights and early mornings caught up with me. I realized that burning the candle at both ends was having a negative impact on my health. I needed to get more sleep.
Over time, I’ve switched my bedtime from 1 or 2 am to 9:30 or 10. This was huge. I used to set the alarm to wake me in the wee hours. Now, I let the birds and my body’s clock wake me at around 6ish, sometimes 7. Last summer when I was really in need of restoring rest to my body, I took a daily cat nap which was amazingly energizing. Better than coffee. Seriously.
Find out what your body’s rhythm is and go with it. Don’t tell me you can’t nap. Just try it for a month and see if your body adjusts. Don’t tell me you can’t get to bed earlier. Life will go on if you don’t watch that show tonight. Really. This is especially important if you’re getting up with a baby at night.
Making sleep a priority can have a huge impact on your health and well-being.
5. Get a physical.
Since I had six babies in eleven years, I spent a lot of those years in doctor’s offices. Once I had my last post-partum visit, it was easy to just overlook going to the doctor. Two years ago I went for my first real physical. I even had a mammogram.
I don’t love my doctor. He’s a little too quick with the prescription forms. But, I do appreciate getting a yearly check-up. They run some blood work, check my moles, and generally make sure the basics are up and running.
If you’ve got insurance, then go ahead and make that appointment today. If medical expenses are tricky right now, find out what’s available in your area. Often there are free or low-cost clinics that provide help.
In many cases, underlying medical conditions can be treated and cured if detected early, so it’s in your best interest — and that of your family — that you try to get a physical on a yearly basis.
I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I’m a mom who wants to live a quality life that allows me to move about freely. I want to live to see my grandkids. While getting healthier doesn’t guarantee that, it sure does increase my odds.