Test yourself: How do your habits measure up?
Think you are living healthy lifestyle?
Aside from occasionally veering off the path, we do a fair job of maintaining our health with good (or at least OK) eating habits and physical activity whenever we manage to fit it in.
See how well you measure up the four keys to healthfulness:
- Do you smoke?
- Are you able to maintain a healthy weight (a BMI of 18-25), or are you successfully losing weight to attain a healthy weight?
- Do you eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily?
- Do you exercise 30 minutes or more, 5 times a week?
Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health. If you are one of the lucky ones who never became addicted to nicotine, pat yourself on the back. Smokers, I hope you are working diligently to kick your habit.
It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of a smoke-free life for your health as well as for the sake of those around you.
9 Steps for healthy living
While those four habits are indisputably important for a healthy lifestyle, some may argue that more factors should be taken into consideration.
- Get a good night’s rest. Well-rested people not only cope better with stress, but may also have better control of their appetites. Research has shown that a lack of sleep can put our “hunger hormones” out of balance — and possibly trigger overeating.
- Enjoy regular family meals. This allows parents to serve as good role models, can promote more nutritious eating, and sets the stage for lively conversations. Being connected to family and friends is a powerful aspect of a healthy life.
- Smile and laugh out loud several times a day. It keeps you grounded, and helps you cope with situations that would otherwise make you crazy. Read the comics, watch a sitcom, or tell jokes to bring out those happy feelings.
- Meditate, pray, or otherwise find solace for at least 10-20 minutes each day. Contemplation is good for your soul, helps you cope with the demands of daily life, and may even help lower your blood pressure.
- Get a pedometer and let it motivate you to walk. Forget about how many minutes of activity you need; just do everything you can to fit more steps into your day. No matter how you get it, physical activity can help defuse stress, burn calories, and boost self-esteem.
- Stand up straight. You will look 5 pounds lighter if you stand tall and tighten your abdominal muscles. Whenever you walk, think tall and tight to get the most out of the movement.
- Try yoga. The poses help increase strength and flexibility and improve balance. These are critical areas for older folks especially, and both men and women can benefit.
- Power up the protein. This nutrient is an essential part of your eating plan, and can make up anywhere from 10%-35% of your total calories. Protein lasts a long time in your belly; combine it with high-fiber foods and you’ll feel full on fewer calories. Enjoy small portions of nuts, low-fat dairy, beans, lean meat, poultry, or fish.
- Last but not least, have a positive attitude. Do your best to look at life as if “the glass is half full.” You must believe in yourself, have good support systems, and think positively.