Note: This is a guest post from Lisah of Getting to Zen
What does it mean to live a healthy lifestyle? It is a way of living that allows you to enjoy more aspects of your life in a more fulfilling way. It is not just about trying to avoid one illness after another, or trying to just not feel as bad as you normally do. It is about feeling and being well physically, mentally and socially. It is about making specific choices that give you the opportunity to feel your best for as long as you can. Living a healthy lifestyle is about saying YES to life.
Three Essential Ways to Live Healthy
Do you want to have a body that can support you well into your old age? Do you wish to have mental clarity, quality relationships, good working internal functions, or even an overall feeling of well being? Well, living a healthy lifestyle is what can get you there, or at least improve your condition. There are three specific things that you should do:
You shouldn’t be surprised that this one is on the list. It is unavoidable. Physical activity is essential to healthy living. The body was meant to move, and when it does not, it can become unhappy and ill. Physical activity stimulates the body’s natural maintenance and repair systems that keep it going. It improves circulation to our heart and lungs. It gives us strength to stave off injuries, and it increases the mobility in our muscles and joints. Physical activity also releases endorphins; the feel good hormones that create a sense of general well being. Physical activity is good for the body and the mind.
Exercises include brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, rowing, elliptical workouts and jogging. Yoga, and pilates are also good exercise workouts; however, they should be performed in conjunction with the cardiovascular-type workouts mentioned above.
2. Eating healthy
Have you ever heard of the saying “you are what you eat” or “garbage in garbage out”? Well, it is true. What you put into your body directly affects how you feel physically, your mood, your mental clarity, your internal workings, and even your skin. Eating healthy does not mean eating expensive foods with little taste. As a matter of fact, there are some fantastic health recipes online and in cookbooks that are very healthy. Basically, you want to aim for a diet that is low in salt, fat and unprocessed foods and is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also good to take a multi vitamin to ensure you are meeting your nutrient requirements.
3. Reduce stress
We have got to get rid of all of this stress. Stress happens when your life becomes out of balance physically, mentally or emotionally. This imbalance can be caused by internal stress like worrying too much, environmental stress like pressure from work, family or friends, or by stress from being fatigued or overworked. Being stressed out has the potential to affect your health in a variety of ways. You can become tired, sick, tense, irritable, and unable to think clearly. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you will need to manage the stress in your life so that it does not overtake you. This means taking charge of your thoughts, emotions, tasks, and environment to get your body back in balance.
Here are some specific action items for living a healthy lifestyle:
- Use the food pyramid as a guide to how much of what to eat
- Eat less processed foods
- Reduce your sugar intake
- Grill, boil, or bake foods rather than frying them
- Reduce the amount of meat you eat
- Eat a lot of fresh locally produced vegetables and fruits
- Avoid adding salt to your meals after they have been cooked
- Regulate your portion sizes (a portion is about the size of your fist)
- Reduce your alcohol consumption
- Reduce caffeine consumption
- Don’t eat foods that have a lifetime warranty (unless we have some sort of disaster and you have been storing them in your basement for just that case)
- Stop smoking
- Laugh a lot
- Exercise at a moderate intensity, for at least a half an hour three to five times per week.
- Find ways to eliminate stress (meditate, exercise, guided imagery, music)
- Give to others with no strings attached
- Smile at strangers
- Learn to say no
- Avoid people who put their stress on you
- Take control of your life
- Always say please and thank you
Lisah is a technical writer living in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. She enjoys long distance running, cooking, sewing and blogging. Lisah’s blog, Getting to Zen, includes articles on personal development, enlightenment, consciousness and awareness. Stop by for a visit.
Photo by Abdullah AL-Naser