I am not worried about my health. Why should you? In one sentence: worry will take you nowhere. A most elaborate answer comes with my own experience:
I used to over-worry about my health. I would count calories before and after eating. I would avoid fries and soda at all costs. I would stop sunbathing for fear of skin cancer. I would even say “no” to many sorts of invitations to avoid being around “toxic people”. But all I got from these worries was the opposite of what I was aiming: more stress, headaches and low immunity.
That was enough for me, so I stopped worrying completely!
My old concern for health is just like what many of us feel about money. We are motivated by the travel of our Facebook friends and there we go to book the next flight to the Caribbean Islands, before even planning for the costs. When our smartphone is outdated, many of us do not hesitate to switch to the latest version.
That is the same thing as complaining about your bad cholesterol levels, right before getting a double burger with soda for lunch.
My point is: we expect the “placebo effect” when worrying about health. We hope that worrying alone is enough, and there is no need to do anything else about it.
Maybe it’s time to put your concern aside and start doing something about it.
But, that seems to be the problem: to start. How many times do we leave brilliant ideas at the mercy of our own fate simply because taking the first step into practice seems too painful?
Now, listen, there is a solution for that: make the first step the easiest possible. If you are still not convinced that it is worth stop worrying about your health, take a small step in the direction to that. Here are three simple and achievable ways to do that:
1. Eat well (I mean, really well)
Nowadays, there is an infinity of information (useful and useless) on books and the internet about low fat, zero gluten or lactose free diets, others rich in protein, beaten in the blender and so on. But it seems that instead of helping us, all this information is only confusing us. It’s frustrating, I know.
What I have experienced and worked for me is simpler than you might think: try to consume what your grandparents would recognize as real food.
Here are some hints:
– Fruits (in moderation, because of the sugar content);
– Vegetables (preferably dark green ones);
– Whole grains (if you are not trying to loose weight); and
– Healthy fats (eat those avocados and walnuts!).
It’s that simple.
Each individual should decide which type of food comes in each of the above categories, according to his palate or nutritional restrictions.
And don’t worry about counting calories! Hunger is what should be a guide to decide the amount of healthy food that goes to your plate. You might well agree that there are no shortage of delicious and nutritious alternatives for that.
Now, it’s not worth consuming too much:
– Saturated fat (cut down those industrialized biscuits);
– Sugar (let the milk chocolate be an occasional treat rather than a daily dessert);
– Sodium (remember to read the labels to aim for less than the daily requirement);
– Processed grains (yes, that mean avoid the white list: bread, pasta, rice, etc); and
– Alcohol (it’s up to you to take that glass of whine before bedtime).
As our grandparents would have said: “Eat everything, but in moderation”. And, remember: eat well does not mean to go hungry, or to follow certain diet.
Seek to eat well every day. Once done that, the next step in maintaining health is:
2. Practice physical exercises
All calories consumed are stored in the form of, you know, fat. Who consumes more calories than burns it stores the excess. That is why my television is always off on leisure times and I am out playing with my little child.
If you work in an office, take a break, but not to get another coffee. Stretch out. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Find your tennis shoes and get out for a run. If you really lack motivation to do it alone, enroll in a gym — where you might find people to inspire you in some way.
Beware that anaerobic exercise (lift weights or bodybuilding) helps to form bone density and muscles. On the other hand, aerobic exercises focus on burning calories, help in endurance, strength, heart health and lung capacity. You might also be aware that aerobic activities accelerate your metabolism during and hours after exercise.
For me, besides playing with my child, walking has always been my favorite exercise. A 30-minute walk can burn up to 150 calories. Besides, it helps to strengthen the heart, increase bone density and create physical stamina.
That is right: exercise does need to be complicated and does not require a expensive gym membership.
Now, if you lead a sedentary life, take it easy. Consult your doctor to recommend a slow start that will lead to a regular exercise regimen.
Also, make sure you also drink plenty of water as you increase your exercise levels.
After all, you will also need to sleep well. And is there anything easier to do than that?
Hey, wait, before you start counting sheeps, try to finish reading the next topic. It will be brief, I promise.
3. Aim to get enough sleep
Sleep is a time when the immune system recovers. An adult needs eight hours of sleep daily, on average. People who sleep less than six or more than nine hours a night have higher mortality rate than those who regularly sleep seven to eight hours.
Remember: eat well, practice regular physical activity, and get enough sleep.
Oh, and stop worrying about your health!