We already know the basics, watch what you eat, and exercise. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Make sure that you’re eating a balanced diet and you’re breaking a sweat every now and then to get rid of toxins and other harmful materials in your body. Sounds easy, right? But, as the saying goes, it’s always easier said than done.
You’re probably reading this article because you’re scouring the internet for all the relevant information you could get about keeping yourself healthy. It’s a bit overwhelming, isn’t it? With the plethora of diets to choose from and various exercises you could do, the struggle is definitely real. But let’s pause for a bit.
We just wanted to say… congratulations! Deciding that you need to work on your health is, in and of itself, already a massive step in the right direction. Not everyone has the courage to take that long look in the mirror and say: I want to be healthier. Self-love doesn’t mean that you have to stay the way you are even though you want to make certain changes. Actual self-love is supporting yourself in whatever decision you want to make and being open to changes that your body needs. Recognizing that there is work to be done and having the willingness and discipline to act upon it is the ultimate form of loving yourself.
Now let’s get started.
Having a balanced diet
Opting for a balanced diet will help your body acquire the necessary vitamins and minerals that are vital to nourish your body. Eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables has also been found to boost the immune system and help your body fend off disease and other viral infections.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following for a healthy diet:
- At least five portions, or 400 grams, of fruit and vegetables per day
- A healthy diet should consist of a mix of fruits, vegetables, lentils, nuts, and whole grains
- As much as possible, acquire less than 10% of your daily energy intake from free sugars (free sugars are all sugars added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates
- As much as possible, acquire less than 30% of your daily energy intake from fats
- Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado, and nuts) are preferable to saturated fats (found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, and cheese) and trans-fats (both industrially-produced and ruminant).
- Consume less than 5g of salt per day. Iodized salt is preferred.
Sounds overwhelming, right? Let’s put it into context.
A healthy diet starts with discipline and the willingness to choose healthier options. The World Health Organization has also given practical advice on maintaining a healthy diet such as:
- Including vegetables in meals as much as possible
- Choosing fresh fruit and raw vegetables for snacks rather than junk food (potato chips, cookies, ice cream, etc)
- When cooking, choose to steam or boil rather than fry
- Replace butter or lard with healthier oil options like soybean, canola, or corn
- Buying lean meats instead of fattier meats
- Limiting the consumption of baked and fried foods as well as pre-packaged snacks which contain industrially-produced trans-fats
- Limiting the consumption of salt by not putting too many high-sodium condiments in cooked food as well as the consumption of salty snacks
- Eating fresh fruit and raw vegetables instead of sugary snacks and treats
But remember, a balanced diet alone will not keep your body strong and healthy. You also need to work up a sweat from time to time to flush out the toxins in your body. The best way to do that? How else but through exercise!
Exercise, not extra fries!
Not that there’s anything wrong with getting extra fries! As long as you’re putting in the work and the effort to keep yourself healthy, a treat from time to time should be harmless. But do the work first!
A study that looked into the health benefits of physical activity found a significant relationship between physical fitness and changes in mortality over time. According to the study, “there appears to be a graded linear relation between the volume of physical activity and health status – such that most physically active people are at the lowest risk.”
So which exercises should you do? Where do you even begin?
Exercises don’t necessarily mean spending 2 hours at the gym. Exercises can also mean playing your favorite sport, enjoying a nice walk, or doing housework. As long as you’re breaking a sweat, any type of physical activity would keep your weight under control, help bolster your immune system, and strengthen your overall health.
Here are some exercises that could help kickstart your fitness journey:
Walking, no matter your pace, helps burn calories which could keep your heart healthy. Walking works best for people with joint problems as it could slowly improve joint health. Need a mental reset? Walking could do wonders for your mental health as well. Studies from the Association of Medicine and Psychiatry have found regular exercise (such as walking) could improve sleep, increase endurance, reduce tiredness, and relieve stress.
Aside from the obvious cardiovascular benefits of running, it can also benefit your mental health. According to the American Psychosomatic Society, running has been found to help with people’s anxiety and panic attacks. They found that more physically active people were less likely to experience episodes of anxiety and were less likely to panic in stressful situations.
Cycling is a great exercise to tone your muscles, improve joint mobility, and strengthen your bones. Depending on the intensity, cycling may also help in managing your weight and can also build your body’s endurance. According to Cycling Weekly, cycling burns between 400 to 1000 calories an hour. It’s also a great way to see your town/neighborhood without having to walk or run for miles at a time.
If all else fails, you can always become a gym member. The best thing about gyms is that most are almost always equipped with trained personnel that could help you learn the basics. Most gyms also offer a free physical evaluation and provide you with a beginner program. Once the beginner exercises become too easy for you, you can consult an instructor at the gym to help you with more advanced exercises as you progress.