More than 42 percent of American adults suffer from obesity, a reflection of the epidemic of unhealthy living that affects so many of us. Breaking unhealthy habits and taking measures to live a healthier life does not happen overnight, but making some relatively small changes to your daily routine can pay significant dividends in improving your overall wellbeing. Living a healthy lifestyle can overall lead to more happiness in life but also reduce the severity of injuries and complications down the road. Take it from the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Levin Firm.
1. Eat more vegetables and fruits.
In altering their diet to healthier eating, many people make the mistake of focusing their thoughts on the foods they cannot have. If you constantly obsess about forbidden foods, however, you will find yourself craving them more often—and, as a result, you may struggle to stick with your diet. Instead, put your attention on the foods you can have. Find healthy vegetable dishes that you enjoy. Eat fresh fruit on a regular basis, ideally by itself.
Eating more vegetables and fruits causes several things to happen. First, you will take in more vital vitamins and nutrients that your body needs and which fruits and vegetables contain in abundance. Second, you will feel more full after indulging in fewer calories. Third, as you focus on eating healthy fruits and vegetables and eat fewer sweets and unhealthy, highly processed foods, you will find your cravings for those “forbidden” foods gradually decreasing without feeling the stress of staying away from them.
2. Find an exercise program you love (or, at least, can imagine loving).
If you dread exercise, then you will make excuses to skip it. That is just human nature.
So, instead, find a form of exercise that you can imagine loving, and that you can at least live with right now. Getting exercise has a way of promoting getting more exercise. If you like walks right now, then give yourself the chance to fall in love with taking them. If you can stomach yoga, then try to work it into your routine and see if you start to crave it. If dancing has always appealed to you, try an exercise routine that incorporates it and let yourself become a Jazzercise or Zumba convert!
Experiment with different types of exercise until you find one you can see yourself truly enjoying. You will never stick with an exercise routine if just the thought of it causes you stress. Instead, pick an activity you naturally enjoy, and let yourself grow into loving how it improves your life.
3. Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
Do not underestimate the critical importance of sleep to a living healthy lifestyle. The vast majority of adults need seven to eight hours of it per night. You might think you can get by on five or six hours per night, but research has proven that is not enough for most people, and that bodies and minds suffer as a result of skimping.
Inadequate sleep makes it more difficult to lose weight. It slows your metabolism and depresses your mood. Without adequate sleep, the brain struggles to form memories, and to perform complex tasks. A lack of sleep also impairs the immune system, which makes tired people susceptible to infection and chronic disease. Lack of sleep can even put you in extreme physical danger. A person who drives a car while excessively fatigued is just as impaired as a person who drives drunk.
Getting more and better-quality sleep will improve your lifestyle. So, turn off your devices, stop burning the candle at both ends, and prioritize getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
Following these tips can help you achieve that goal:
- Go to bed around the same time every night and get up around the same time each morning. Try to maintain the same general schedule even on weekends. Your body will naturally fall into a rhythm that makes it easier for you to fall asleep and to get up at the right time.
- Make your bedroom a relaxing haven. Try not to use your bed for reading, hanging out, or watching television. Instead, set your bed aside for sleeping. Make your bedroom as relaxing as possible. Decluttering helps to de-stress and promotes quality sleep.
- Avoid screen use before bedtime. If possible, stop using your phone or tablet a couple of hours before bedtime. If you read on a device, then switch it to “night” mode to reduce eye strain and the potentially sleep-interrupting effects of a screen’s blue wavelength light.
4. Get up and get moving throughout the day.
All too many Americans live a sedentary lifestyle. They do their work seated at a desk, staring at a computer screen, barely moving for hours at a time. In fact, in many workplaces, working non-stop in a seated position is what passes for optimal productivity.
Unfortunately, sitting at a desk or workstation all day poses significant, well-documented health risks, including putting you at risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, to name just a few.
Fortunately, you do not necessarily have to quit your job to live a healthier lifestyle. To combat the negative effects of a seated workday, make a habit of getting up at least once every hour to move around. A fitness tracker (such as a FitBit) can help remind you to stand and take a quick walk, or you can simply set a timer on your phone.
When the time comes to move around try:
- Performing a small workout routine right there at your workstation. Get your blood flowing and move around enough to get your heart rate up, especially if you have to remain stationary most of the day to keep up with your job responsibilities. Two or three minutes can give both mind and body a break. You can try stretching, jogging in place, or doing a few simple exercises.
- Taking a short walk around your workplace. Take the long route to the bathroom. Go to the water cooler. Get up and physically ask a colleague a question instead of sending an email or internal message. While these short strolls might not seem like much effort, they add up to improving your health.
- Taking a long walk on your lunch break. You might have a bigger workout scheduled for later in the day, or you might already have made a workout a priority that morning, but adding-in that walk at lunch can help get blood flowing and make you more active overall, avoiding many of the effects of that sedentary lifestyle.
- Taking the stairs. Stop riding elevators whenever possible. Climbing and descending stairs is a natural workout.
5. Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine.
Fresh air and sunshine not only boost vitamin D in the body, helping to stave off depression and even cancer, they can also help you heal and get over illness faster. You may find yourself tempted to stay inside when you do not feel well. While you should certainly stay at home or within your own area to avoid infecting others, you may find that you feel better faster when you spend time outside, even if you just sit outside and soak in the sun.
Fresh air and plenty of sunlight can act as a mood and immune system booster at all times of the year. Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, which can lead to poor mood and even depression during short winter days. If bad weather keeps you indoors, try letting in as much natural light as possible around the house or workplace. This simple mood boost can also give you more energy and make it easier for you to remember to exercise every day.
6. Drink plenty of water.
A surprisingly large numbera of people suffer from chronic dehydration. Not only that, even people who feel that they get an adequate amount to drink every day may indulge in coffee, tea, and soda rather than drinking water. Others may turn to sports drinks after even moderate exercise, which may end up putting a great deal of unnecessary sugar into their bodies with little real benefit.
Your body needs plenty of water to function at peak efficiency. In fact, the typical adult needs to drink about half a gallon of water per day to maintain peak hydration. Water lubricates your joints, moves oxygen through your body, regulates your body temperature, and aids in digestion and eliminating waste. Inadequate hydration can make your entire body feel sluggish and achy, and can depress your mood.
To ensure you consume enough water, try following these tips:
- Make it easier to drink water than tea or soda. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day that you can replenish at a water fountain or cooler. If need be, make it a cool accessory, with an attractive design that you like.
- Replace your lunch or dinner drink with water. Get in the habit of drinking water with your meals, instead sugary sodas or glasses of wine.
- Reduce consumption of caffeinated drinks. A little bit of caffeine in your diet is probably healthy. However, too much caffeine can interrupt sleep and cause headaches. Although caffeine does not necessarily cause dehydration, your nutrition and wellbeing can improve by replacing some of your caffeinated drinks with water, particularly if you get your caffeine from high-sugar “energy” drinks.
7. Pay attention to gut health.
The health of your gut can influence your entire body. Current research associates poor gut health with skin problems, headaches, and joint pain, among other health conditions.
To improve your gut health:
- Consume plenty of probiotics. Do your research before purchasing a probiotic over-the-counter. Make sure it contains live organisms that will stand up to transport, rather than getting destroyed as they go into a bottle. You can also get good probiotics through kefir and yogurt.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber needed to help keep your gut healthy.
- Manage your stress levels. Unhealthy stress levels can lead to an unhealthy gut.
- Avoid processed food as much as possible. Processed foods can cause a wide range of health problems, including leading to the overgrowth of bad gut bacteria. Instead of getting caught in that cycle, skip the processed foods (from white bread to condiments like ketchup) and try a healthy, whole food diet instead.
8. Manage your overall stress levels.
Stress does not only impact your gut health. Suffering from high stress levels can leave you struggling with brain fog, dealing with a depressed immune system, or gaining weight with no obvious explanation. Managing your stress levels, on the other hand, can help increase your overall health. While some stress remains beyond your control, you can control many of the elements that can increase your overall stress.
- Saying no. If you know an event or assignment goes beyond your capacity to handle, say no up front. Get in the habit of protecting your emotional health as well as your physical health.
- Getting plenty of sleep. Sleep decreases stress and prepares your mind and body to work through day-to-day problems.
- Managing your expectations. If you constantly have high expectations of yourself and everyone around you, your stress may increase when others fail to meet those expectations. Instead of falling prey to that increased stress, keep your expectations realistic and let unnecessary things go when you can.
- Focusing on the positive. In the midst of stressful situations, find the good. Often, this step can improve your outlook and decrease your stress.
Good Legal Advice Helps, Too
Of course, some factors in our lives that affect our overall health and wellbeing lie far beyond our ability to control. Following these tips can help you confront whatever life throws your way with a healthy body and frame of mind.
Still, no one can necessarily expect to navigate life’s ups-and-downs on their own. If an unexpected accident or tragedy interrupts your life (like a coronavirus pandemic), another healthy choice you can make is contacting an experienced attorney right away. Having seasoned legal counsel by your side when times get tough can help to reduce your stress levels and to ensure you receive compensation you need to manage life’s most difficult challenges.