Struggling with bad eating habits most of my life, I have avoided any blog posts that deal with health. A self-proclaimed “foodie,” I enjoy good food and rarely deny myself any of the bounty of good eating. I have so much respect for my peers who can take the necessary steps to eat healthier or push their bodies through rigorous exercise and weight training.
However, as I get older, I desire to have a healthy relationship with food and create a strong and healthy body. As I get older, I feel the need to preserve the health of my body for as long as I can.
These desires got me to thinking the following:
What is the best investment that I can make in my overall health?
What does it mean to be healthy? And how can we obtain true wellness?
Unsure of the answers to these questions myself, I took to Facebook to provide some insight.
I set up a poll on Facebook recently, asking, “What is the greatest thing you ever did to improve your health?” I was overwhelmed by the response and thus, created this post.
I intend to provide you with some of the great suggestions offered about healthy living in the hope that you will be inspired to make small changes for your overall health.
Incremental change is better than dramatic change. If I tried to do everything at once, I was doomed for failure.”
This quote from one of my friends was the greatest summation of all the comments that I had collected. Each person that commented had made small, incremental changes that created greater results than they had once thought. This perspective definitely made healthier decisions seem easier than I had once thought. Having tried without success to make dramatic changes, I, too, had grown frustrated with the lack of drive to continue.
We have to embrace consistency and accountability for our work to produce lasting fruits. Having someone to talk to about your struggles can make the journey that much easier. Some of our poll responses suggested that health success came from creating a routine that offered consistency. A healthy lifestyle became a habit that was incorporated into their daily life. Bringing their healthy lifestyle changes to someone else for support and accountability helped them “stay on course” when they needed the extra encouragement.
Apple watches, Fitbits, and exercise applications on your phone or iPad are also a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Setting goals for yourself daily where you can easily record and see your progress can be the positive encouragement needed to motivate.
Water, water, and more water. Several have suggested that increasing their water intake not only left them feeling refreshed but actually helped curb snacking. Cutting out all caffeine and increasing water intake also aided in digestion. Water is known to help reduce sugar cravings and help with weight loss. It can improve overall health by reducing headaches and migraines. In other words, drink up!
Clean eating has also been suggested as a positive health choice. Eating what “God has made” and focusing on foods with single ingredients, not chemicals that cannot be pronounced, is an excellent way to detox the body from impurities. Simply striving to include mostly fruits and vegetables on your plate is a great way to monitor portion control with protein and carbohydrates. Additionally, several have seen the added benefit of changing their diets to completely plant-based. In general, lowering the amount of processed foods that we consume lessens the likelihood of allergic reactions to foreign additives and preservatives. Some of our contributors also found that examining the ways certain foods affected them led them to take on a gluten-free diet, providing much success in their weight loss and overall health. Similarly, those who cut out or cut back on their sugar also experienced significant weight loss and overall health benefits.
As we look to detox our bodies through our food choices, we can also look to detox our homes. Some of those who responded to our poll noted that they started purging their home of chemicals. Removing artificial fragrances from our cleaning supplies, lotions, and skin care is a great way to put fewer chemicals in and around our body.
One writer commented that her greatest health decision had more to do with changing her mindset than with anything related to her actual eating.
I accepted the fact that I am entirely worthy, no matter what the scale says.”Liz
Another contributor added that being able to feel comfortable making decisions for her emotional health was also life-changing. She stated that she needed to think more about what she needed to feel healthier and be more at peace. She began to realize her need to love herself and put her needs first. Sometimes that means learning to say “no” when she is already overwhelmed. This mindset significantly reduced her stress and anxiety levels.
Reducing stress and anxiety are byproducts of increasing our exercise. Starting a daily walk or building our endurance by swimming or regular HITT classes can also give us more energy and stamina. Getting outside and breathing in fresh air were also recommendations, and finding quiet time to quiet our minds and experience peace.
Ask any toddler about a nap, and they will grimace. Suggest a nap or more sleep to an adult, and it sounds heavenly. Most of us are not getting the adequate 8 hours of sleep that is necessary. Getting extra sleep is a tremendous benefit for healthier skin and muscle recovery.
Lastly, gathering a medical professional or team to oversee your overall health seemed to be ideal. This physician or team of doctors can provide the utmost care while monitoring your overall health and creating a plan for your care. Routine health maintenance such as yearly physicals, blood work, and labs have also been encouraged by many of these contributors.
Overall this poll was a reminder to me that anything we do proactively to take care of ourselves will result in better health. I challenge you and myself, to try and tackle one or two of these suggestions in the next few months to make small steps towards healthy living. We only have one body that God has given us. We must guard against vices that hurt our bodies and seek ways to strengthen what God has given us.