Since the inception of the internet, health has become a tricky field to navigate. With anyone and everyone having the ability to post their opinions as fact, and a booming supplement industry that is all about quick fixes and magic potions, it’s not easy to know the truth about how to become a fitter and healthier version of yourself.
But health and fitness doesn’t need to be hard. So let’s make it easy, here are ten easy things you can change in your life to reap big rewards in your health!
1. Move your body daily
Our bodies were designed to move, in fact they need to move if we want to stay limber, strong and agile. Moving your body can take so many different forms, so choose the one that you love the most! If you enjoy lifting weights, then stick with that. If you’d rather have a dance party in your lounge room, that’s acceptable as well. Any movement that raises your heart rate for an average of 30 minutes a day will have a positive impact on your health.
2. Get 8 hours of sleep a night
Sleep is one of the most necessary functions to our body, and likely one of the most
understated. When we’re tired and stressed, sleep is one of the first things we give up. However a lack of sleep not only impairs our body’s function and ability to repair itself, but it impacts our memory. While we sleep we convert information from the day from its “short term” storage in our brains into long-term memories.
3. Drink 2L of water every day
We need water to survive. Staying hydrated has so many benefits to our body. Firstly,
being hydrated makes it easier for the heart to do it’s job. Without water, our blood volume decreases, meaning the heart has to work harder, performing more beats per minute than it would need to otherwise. Drinking 2 liters of water a day (more if you’ve worked up a sweat!) allows our body to flush toxins away more easily and keeps our skin looking supple and healthy.
4. Eat breakfast
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. When we eat breakfast we’re literally breaking a fast. Our body’s haven’t eaten in 8+ hours, and is entering into a starvation phase. Eating breakfast will set our metabolism up for the day. By breaking the fast we let our body know there is a food supply and it’s ok to burn energy. When we skip breakfast we tell our body that food stores are scarce and we need to conserve energy. The result is we end up feeling sluggish and fatigued all day.
5. Surround yourself with happy, motivated people
Studies have recently proven that we are the average of our environment. If we spend all our time with negative people, our body and mind perceives us to be in a constant state of threat. This keeps us in our fight or flight system, and our adrenal glands continue to pump out adrenaline and cortisol. Long term this leads to burnout, adrenal fatigue and weight gain.
6. Mind your thoughts
It’s now known that every cell in our body has receptors for the neurotransmitters of the brain. Neurotransmitters are a chemical that is released by nerve cells to stimulate various body cells. If our thoughts are negative, they wash our body cells with a negative message. For example – if you continually think throughout the day “I’m fat” your body will respond by retaining water to make you bloat. The cortisol being pumped into your blood stream from the stress of those thoughts will also lead to inflammation in the body. As a result, you feel fat and that negative thought pattern becomes a vicious cycle.
7. Watch your portion sizes
In Western societies especially, we have no concept of what a proper portion size is. Let’s do an experiment – make two fists and put them together. That is the size of your stomach. In any given meal, you should not be eating more than this amount of food. Crazy right!? Ladies – compare your stomach size to your partners, I’ll bet there’s a big difference in size! And yet we tend to eat the same portion sizes as our partner!
Damian Kristoff, a Melbourne based Chiropractor and Naturopath recommends you follow the following portions size:
- Water based vegetables: Two handfuls per meal
- Starchy vegetables (ie. Sweet potato): a palm full
- Protein: eat protein portions to the size and thickness of your palm
- Fats: eat portions equivalent to the size of your two thumbs
In today’s world where busy-ness is worn like a badge of honour, I can’t tell you how important it is to take a time out from all the noise, distractions and stimulation. As a general rule we need to meditate for 10 – 20 minutes per day. This can be a guided meditation, focusing on your breath or an object or just observing your thoughts.
9. Connect with people – offline
We are the most connected society today, and yet rates of depression and suicide are rising in a scary fashion. Connecting with people in the real world allows our body to produce oxytocin – a hormone that is essential in stopping the production of cortisol and breaking us out of the stress cycle.
10. Set goals
One of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to their health and fitness is that they fail to set specific, measureable goals. Having worked in the fitness industry for 17 years, the most common goals I’ve heard are:
“I want to get fit”
“I want to tone up”
“I want to lose weight”
But what does any of that actually mean? Because I could help a client
lose 1kg and technically we’ve achieved the third goal – although I’m sure that’s not what they had in mind. More specific goals would look something like:
“I want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without being puffed” or “I want to run 5km in 30 minutes”
“I want to be 20% body fat”
“I want to lose 20kg”
I hope these tips have provided you with some inspiration for creating a lifestyle of holistic health and wellness.
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Article by: Tiffany Toombs
Stirling Institute of Australia – Head Coach / Trainer