Being healthy is about more than getting the all-clear on your test results. That might just mean you’re not sick, but it doesn’t guarantee you’re in good health, either. I think being healthy is about following these steps in daily life.
Visit your doctor. I don’t want you to think I’m saying you shouldn’t visit your doctor or that his/her test results aren’t important. They certainly are. Making your scheduled appointments with your doctor remains a priority. Test results can tell you if you’ve developed a disease or if your kidneys and liver are functioning normally.
All I’m saying is that there’s no one way to prove you’re healthy. Can every primary care doctor diagnose all your possible mental health symptoms? No, especially if you’re not honest with them, much less yourself. Often, though, we can be oblivious to our own health issues. That’s why it’s important to increase our own awareness of what could be wrong. We all should know what to look for with regard to our own health.
Make a plan. Of course, being healthy requires all of us to at the very least maintain our healthy habits. Most of the time, it requires us to relearn or recommit to those healthy habits. Either way, you need to have a plan. If you and your doctor agree that you need to lose 10 pounds, pick a diet or strategy that’ll actually make this possible. Decide which foods or eating habits you will avoid. It’s easy to want to have it happen, but making this a reality requires more than good intentions.
Get plenty of sleep. Being healthy really does start with making sure you get proper sleep. Getting enough sleep keeps us in a better mood throughout the day. It gives us the energy we need to make healthy decisions. It helps us better regulate our blood sugar levels, which makes us less likely to overeat. In the long run, better sleep even helps prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Mix up your diet. Having a healthy diet requires us to eat more home-cooked meals. In general, people consume more calories at restaurants. Not to mention that restaurant food is usually loaded with unhealthy fats and unnecessarily high amounts of salt. What’s even more important than eating at home? Making sure that your meals contain a balance of healthy fats, proteins and complex carbohydrates. Also, variation in your diet is important to maintaining a healthy gut. Don’t eat bananas as your only fruits or green beans as your only vegetables. Mix it up as much as possible. Our bodies do better the more we keep them guessing.
Commit to exercise. Some people don’t enjoy any form of exercise. I get that. But it’s hard to be a healthy person without some form of exercise. You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym every day to see health benefits, but some form of exercise is necessary. If you don’t like lifting weights, don’t go to the gym. If you hate running, try biking, swimming or rowing instead. Even if you don’t like exercise at all, find an untraditional exercise routine you can tolerate. After all, it’s only a very small part of your day, and the benefits of exercise last all day long.
Don’t settle for excuses. It’s easy to talk yourself out of eating healthy or going to the gym, isn’t it? Most people are more comfortable sitting on the couch than breaking a sweat. I understand the urge, but the more we make excuses for why we can’t be healthy, the more we start believing them. If you’re serious about making changes in your life, don’t settle for excuses. Yes, certain parts of everyone’s day are out of their control. You have to drop the kids off at school. You have to go to work. But there are always ways to better yourself each and every day. Whether we like to admit it or not, we choose our own healthy or unhealthy habits.
Give yourself a break when you make a mistake. We can’t ignore the mental aspect of our health. Stress and anxiety can be debilitating. They can prevent us from feeling capable of improving our lives. Stress can cause us to overeat. It can keep us from falling asleep at night, and it can prevent us from getting the deep, restful sleep our bodies crave.
The good news is stress doesn’t have to control us. We can fight back. We can take back control of our minds. To do this, though, we have to be ready and willing to give ourselves a break when we make the wrong health choices. No, we can’t settle for excuses when we make bad decisions, but if we never stop beating ourselves up, we will lose the will to do better in the future.
When we make poor choices, we should forgive ourselves but never forget. We don’t have to keep repeating the same mistakes endlessly, but it’s important to recognize bad choices when they happen. Only then can we stop the repetitive unhealthy firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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