Healthy living. This is probably a phrase you’ve come across a million times in the last couple of weeks. It’s a brand new year, and this means most of us have vowed to be healthier in the coming weeks and months. When you read about healthy living, there can be a lot of conflicting and confusing information, and this can make it tough to determine which advice to follow. There’s an assumption that you need to live on juices and spend your life at the gym to be healthy. But that’s just not realistic. If you’re looking to make changes to your lifestyle, here are some healthy living commandments that you can actually abide by.
When January comes around, we start panic-buying lycra clothing and sign up for gym memberships, which rarely get used. It’s really beneficial to incorporate exercise into your daily regime, but you don’t have to go crazy and become a gym bunny overnight. The aim of the game is to move more, and this doesn’t necessarily mean lifting weights or running miles on a treadmill. You can make positive changes simply by walking to the shops instead of taking the car, taking the dog for a run twice a day instead of once or even replacing your daily commute in the car with a bike ride.
If you’ve never really been serious about exercise before, it’s best to walk before you can run. Start with simple activities, and increase the intensity as you get fitter and your endurance improves. There’s also no law that you have to go to a gym to be healthy. There are loads of different types of exercise you can try. Go swimming, cycling, or climbing. Sign up for Zumba or Pilates classes. Learn to do Latin dancing or join a netball team. If you don’t have much time and you’re desperate to get home at the end of the day, buy a few DVDs and work out in your living room.
If you’re a beginner, the concept of exercising can be daunting because of stereotypes. But not everyone in the gym has a perfectly toned abdomen or calves of steel. There are plenty of people, just like you, who maybe haven’t worked out for a while. Whatever kind of activity you do, try and focus on your progress, and avoid watching other people. Set yourself goals, and try and have fun. If you find the gym boring, try something different. If you don’t like swimming, give another sport a go. There are endless options, so you’re bound to find something you enjoy.
Cook at home
It’s that time of year when everyone starts ‘eating clean’ and paying more attention to what they put in their bodies. It’s brilliant to think about what you eat, but avoid getting into a trap of eating well for a couple of weeks, and then falling off the wagon. One of the best ways to improve your diet is to cook at home. When you buy meals from the supermarket or order takeouts, they often contain a lot of salt, saturated fat, and sugar. When you make your own meals, you have complete control over what you put in the pan. Cooking can also be really enjoyable, and you’re more likely to enjoy food, which you’ve made the effort to produce.
If you’re one of those people who struggles to resist temptations when they go shopping, it’s a good idea to do your grocery shop online. Write a list of ingredients you need for your home-cooked menu, and add the items to your basket. You’ll spend less, and you won’t be lured in by neon sale signs and alluring shiny packaging.
When you’re cooking at home, try and be organized, and keep the kitchen tidy. If you’re trying to prepare meals in a mountain of pots and boards, you’re more likely to get stressed. Make sure you wash your hands and wipe down the surfaces before you start preparing your meal. Wash your hands again, and any utensils you’ve used after touching raw meat and fish. It’s essential that you cook according to food hygiene guidelines to prevent food poisoning. If you need more information, you’ll find advice from UnsafeFoods.com useful.
When you’re laying out your ingredients, make sure you exercise portion control. If you eat too much, you’ll gain weight even if you make healthy meals. Your body doesn’t need an enormous amount of food to survive. Follow serving guidelines and recommendations in recipes.
Get more sleep
Do you feel tired all the time? Do you struggle to sleep? Do you live for the weekends when you don’t have to worry about working on a few hours’ sleep? If so, it’s time to sort out your sleep patterns and make sure that you’re getting enough rest. When you sleep, your body doesn’t just shut down. It goes through a number of important processes, which enables your muscles and organs to recover and undergo repairs ready for the day ahead. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect your mood, your energy levels and your ability to focus. You’ll also be more susceptible to both physical and mental illnesses.
Often, when you can’t get to sleep, your sleep routine is to blame. Are you normally up until the early hours or do you go to bed at a different time each night? Do you fall asleep in front of the TV and then find it impossible to get up when your alarm goes off? If this sounds familiar, getting into a new regime could make all the difference. Your body functions based on an internal clock. This means that if you go to bed and get up at the same time each night, your body knows when to sleep and when to wake up. It may take a few days, but you should find that you get used to the new patterns and find it much easier to sleep.
There are lots of other reasons why you may find it hard to get enough sleep. If you have young children, you’re likely to endure many sleepless nights. Unfortunately, sometimes, there is very little you can do in the early days, but try and get rest when your baby naps during the day, and ask friends and family to help out when they can to give you a chance to catch up on some sleep.
Often, stress is a factor, and this is dangerous because you can get caught up in a cycle. The more tired you are, the more likely you are to suffer from stress, and vice versa. If you are feeling stressed out, try and take steps to keep stress in check. In mild cases, you might find exercise, meditation, and taking time out effective. If you have severe stress, see your doctor.
Keep track of your alcohol intake
Do you know how many units of alcohol you consume in an average week? Do you know how many units your favorite drinks contain? Many people drink more than the recommended intake without even realizing. Even if you have a couple of drinks with dinner or after work with friends on a regular basis, this can tip you over the quota. We tend to think of excessive consumption as going crazy on a Friday or Saturday night. But, you may be surprised at how many units you accumulate without having a weekend blowout. The best thing to do is to keep a diary or track your intake using an app. Get to grips with units, and what they mean. You may assume that a pint of beer or a glass of wine equate to a single unit, but you’d be wrong. A single unit is actually equivalent to half a pint of lager or a third of a 275 ml glass of wine. For more information about alcoholic units, take a look at https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm.
If you are drinking too much, try and cut down by ordering smaller quantities, and having days when you don’t drink at all. You can still take part in social activities, but you don’t always have to drink. You could order a soft drink or a mocktail, for example. If you can’t control your drinking, seek advice. It’s best to try and address problems before they get worse. If you think you have become dependent on alcohol, there are people who can help you. Your doctor should be your first port of call.
When you hear everybody talking about healthy living, it can all get a little confusing. One person’s telling you about an incredible new diet while another one is trying desperately to get you to try a weird and wonderful new exercise class. If you do some research, you find a hundred articles telling you different things. The aim of this guide is to give you a simple set of commandments, which don’t require you to change your life dramatically. These are manageable changes, which you can bring about to make a positive difference to your health and wellbeing.