Back to Basics

Justinne Lou Go, RND

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Health -

It’s that time of the year again when peo­ple are mak­ing or have al­ready made res­o­lu­tions, in­ten­tions, and goals for the year ahead. And of course, health and fit­ness al­ways take top spot on the list, es­pe­cially now that peo­ple are learn­ing more about the value of health. A new year is a fresh start; a new op­por­tu­nity to get things right.

With too much in­for­ma­tion on­line about health and fit­ness, how do you know which ones are right? There have been a slew of fad di­ets and health/well­ness jar­gon that have been go­ing around in the past year, but these “cheats and tricks” just aren’t for ev­ery­body. One thing is for sure though; you can never go wrong with the basics.

So, this time around, try not to com­pli­cate things and wind up keep­ing your­self from achiev­ing your healthy life­style goals. Get­ting healthy may rely on eat­ing right for the most part, but that’s not the only thing you need to work on if you truly want to be healthy. It’s called a healthy life­style be­cause all as­pects of your life­style have to be ad­dressed — diet, move­ment, sleep, stress, and en­vi­ron­ment. All these as­pects of your life­style play sig­nif­i­cant roles in con­tribut­ing to your com­plete well­be­ing. You can­not just do with one or a few, be­cause com­pro­mis­ing on the oth­ers will still keep you from achiev­ing your health goals. So, here are my tips for you to keep it sim­ple and sus­tain­able this year:

Eat Right.

We all know that diet or nu­tri­tion is the most im­por­tant life­style as­pect that one should work on to be­come truly healthy. As the pop­u­lar health for­mula goes, achiev­ing a healthy weight is 80% diet and 20% ex­er­cise. But, with all the con­fus­ing in­for­ma­tion and con­flict­ing fac­tors (temp­ta­tions) around, it just doesn’t seem to be so easy. Well, what I can say is, the most im­por­tant thing about eat­ing is mind­ful­ness. When you be­come con­scious and aware of how you feel with the food you’re eat­ing and how you eat your food, you be­gin to un­der­stand more about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween your body and food. It’s about cre­at­ing a healthy re­la­tion­ship and un­der­stand­ing of food. Be­ing mind­ful of how you eat, par­tic­u­larly in chew­ing your food prop­erly, brings you to the dis­cov­ery and habit of ac­tu­ally en­joy­ing your food and more im­por­tantly, help­ing your body with di­ges­tion. Also in­cluded in mind­ful eat­ing is be­ing aware of the kind of food you’re eat­ing and how much you’re eat­ing — nu­tri­ent den­sity and por­tion con­trol. Let me talk about these more in my next ar­ti­cle.

Move It.

Ex­er­cise is the in­dis­pens­able part­ner of healthy eat­ing to achieve your healthy weight. And, it’s not just for weight loss or main­te­nance. You can take ad­van­tage of the many ben­e­fits ex­er­cise does for your health even with­out los­ing weight and this is why it is so im­por­tant to add or keep in your rou­tine. Just some of the nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits of reg­u­lar ex­er­cise in­clude reg­u­lat­ing blood pres­sure, in­creas­ing good choles­terol, sup­port­ing blood sugar con­trol, pro­mo­tion and main­te­nance of bone mass, and pro­motes good sleep and good mood. Our bod­ies were made to move no mat­ter what age we are, so don’t ever ne­glect this health strat­egy.

Sleep Well.

This is one of the cru­cial life­style fac­tors that one shouldn’t take for granted. No mat­ter how well you eat and ex­er­cise, if you don’t give your body the rest it needs, it won’t be able to re­cover and re­pair it­self. And I’m talk­ing about qual­ity sleep here. Get­ting an ac­cu­mu­lated eight hours of sleep from short naps through­out the day or even get­ting eight hours of sleep but it is in­ter­rupted do not qual­ify for good qual­ity sleep. You need to give your body the rest it de­serves af­ter all the hard work it does to keep up with you. So, make sure to make this a top pri­or­ity es­pe­cially if it’s what you strug­gle with most.

Stress Less.

Stress will al­ways be part of life, but there is a way to man­age it. Stud­ies have shown that stress is a ma­jor fac­tor in pro­mot­ing many chronic dis­eases such as di­a­betes, heart dis­ease, au­toim­mune dis­eases, and even neu­rocog­ni­tive dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s and de­men­tia. So, you could say manag­ing stress is a life-sav­ing strat­egy. We man­age it by do­ing coun­ter­act­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that re­lieve us from at least some of the stress. This is why self-care and just tak­ing some time out for your­self is very im­por­tant.

Live Free.

There is now a say­ing “Genes load the gun, en­vi­ron­ment pulls the trig­ger.” Re­search has shown that our en­vi­ron­ment can in­ter­act with our genes; this is called epi­ge­net­ics. Our ex­po­sure to toxic chem­i­cals — from cig­a­rette smoke, car emis­sions, plas­tic con­tain­ers, Te­flon/non­stick cook­ware, home clean­ing ma­te­ri­als, and even toi­letries — is one of the big­gest in­flu­ences on our health. Be­ing con­scious of these and re­duc­ing ex­po­sure such as by us­ing glass con­tain­ers and us­ing more nat­u­ral (if pos­si­ble, or­ganic) prod­ucts can be a very ben­e­fi­cial prac­tice not only for your health but also for the en­vi­ron­ment.

As long as you keep things sim­ple and stick to the basics, you can’t go wrong. Re­mem­ber not to be too hard on your­self or ex­pect too much, but be your own cheer­leader and cel­e­brate even the small wins. Be­ing kinder to your­self this year could be the most im­por­tant thing you need to make it through and achieve more mile­stones. Cheers to a bet­ter year ahead!

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