My husband occasionally mentions a poem that his father quoted when he was a boy. It came from an old nursery rhyme. I have narrowed it down to 5 steps to a healthy lifestyle. We have these things at our fingertips. They are very simple, yet empowering things, and we have had them for our entire lives, things to keep us healthy and strong.
Six good doctors everywhere,
And no one can deny it,
Doctors ‘water’, ‘sunshine’, ‘air’,
‘Exercise’, ‘rest’ and ‘diet’.
These things we have all around us and yet sometimes we forget how priceless they are.
Step 1. Enjoy Regular Exercise
Find a workout routine that you enjoy. Plan to put some exercise into your lifestyle at a regular time each day. Whether you are a morning person or an evening person, a routine makes it easier to be consistent with your exercise. If you miss out on one or two workouts, don’t throw in the towel. Tomorrow is another day. Just pick up and keep going.
Some like to get their exercise done as soon as they get out of bed. One friend of mine likes to put in 45 minutes on her treadmill as soon as she gets up; another friend I have puts her toes under the bed and counts to 100, doing her morning sit-ups. Another friend has a 20-minute routine that she has put together before her day begins. I like to get on my exercise bike and go for a ride for at least 30 minutes each day, and I will spend more time when I can.
As we get older we often have more time on our hands, so why not put it to good use and get some much-needed exercise. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, we must use those muscles. You know the saying, ‘Use it or lose it!” As we age, we lose muscle mass, unless we keep active in one way or another.
Stretching is also great. Some mornings I will put on my Miranda Esmonde-White DVD and do a half-hour routine with her. A number of my friends use Leslie Sansone DVDs to get their workouts done. It is great to get some moderate exercise; enough to get our heart rate up and to break a sweat. Exercise provides stress relief and improves mood. Short, frequent bouts of exercise are better than none at all!
Start with 10 minutes sessions, several times a day, and gradually build up to 30 minutes or more, a day, or whatever you are comfortable with. Before long, your day won’t seem complete without your regular exercise routine.
We have all probably heard that exercise:
- creates stronger muscles and bones,
- maintains a healthy weight with a higher metabolism
- keeps blood sugar levels stable
- lowers blood pressure
Step 2. Fresh Water – Naturally
Fresh water is one of 5 steps to a healthy lifestyle. Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than a glass of fresh cold water. Coffee and energy drinks are no match for a good glass of clean, fresh, water.
Many people drink a tall glass of fresh water every morning when they first get up. It helps the body’s systems get ready for another day. Some people like to add a fresh squeeze of lemon juice to that tall glass of water. Sometimes, if you have a headache or are feeling hungry, simply drinking a glass of water will help. I like to pull out the number of water bottles that I want to drink at the beginning of the day, as a reminder to hydrate.
Step 3. Exactly What Is a Healthy Diet?
Eat plenty of fruit, veggies, and whole grains. Eat whole foods as often as possible. Remember the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, eat very well and twenty percent of the time you can eat those holiday meals or snacks.
Limit white and refined foods, and add nuts, fish, lean protein, lots of veggies with some fruit. By adding plenty of healthy choices to your diet, you will find you don’t have room for the snack foods you once craved.
Practice mindful eating habits. Be aware of what you are eating and how you are feeling as you are eating.
- Decide if you are actually hungry
- Focus on the texture, taste, and aroma of the food or drinks
- Eat your food slowly so that you can gauge when you are full
- While you are chatting, remain aware of what you are eating and the quantity of food you are eating
Step 4. Everyone Needs Fresh Air and Sunshine
Walking is the best exercise, and to make that exercise even better, stand up tall and squeeze those abs and glutes as you go. After a few minutes, you can feel the “burn” of your workout. For those who find it difficult to get outside to workout, Yoga or Pilates can be done inside, and are good ways of getting lots of air into your lungs.
Some people prefer to sleep with their bedroom window open, even ‘just a crack’, to get fresh air. However, keep your personal safety in mind if you do this.
Sunshine, as little as 15 minutes a day, can adjust your mood. Sunshine can help you achieve your daily dose of vitamin D. Even my cat loves to soak up the warm sun’s rays coming in the window.
Step 5. Don’t Forget to Manage Your Stress
We all need some stress in our lives, without stress, we would become limp and lethargic. But we do want to keep our stress at a healthy level, a level that we can manage
I once heard a story of a fisherman who wanted to ship a barrel of codfish across the continent. When the fish arrived they were all limp and tasteless. So with the next barrel of codfish, he put a catfish in the barrel. The catfish is a natural enemy of the codfish. The catfish chased the cod fish all the way across the nation. By the time they reached their destination, when the fish were prepared, the dish of codfish was flaky and flavorful. The catfish had kept the codfish at their peak.
We all need a catfish or two in our lives, just the right amount of stress to keep us on our toes.
However, we also need balance. We need to be at peace with our neighbors, whether it is our spouse, children, friends or relatives. We can decide to be peaceful even if we don’t agree on everything. It also helps to keep a positive attitude and allow time for our own creativity.
For most people, 7 – 8 hours a night is ideal. It may be difficult for you to work that into your busy lifestyle, or it may be difficult to wind down when you are ready to retire for the night.
Without a full night’s sleep, you can feel irritable and exhausted. Be aware that excess sugar, carbohydrates, and caffeine may disrupt a good night’s sleep.
To encourage your body to sleep, develop a bedtime routine. Make your bedroom an inviting place to relax. Perhaps a warm cup of Chamomile tea would help you relax, or a glass of tart cherry juice. Some people like a single serving of cheese or a kiwi.
In the Midst of Change… Some Things Never Change:
When we were younger, there were many things we could do without giving it a second thought. Suddenly, what has happened to the things we once could do so easily? Unless we are conscious and do something about it, we begin to lose muscle mass as we age. It helps to be mindful of these 5 steps to a healthy lifestyle in order to keep our quality of life at an optimum level.
We may not have control over many things as far as our health is concerned, but there are some things we can do which our bodies will thank us for. These are the choices we make each day; these 5 steps to a healthy lifestyle will make it possible for us to feel our best. With the right motivation, it will make it easier to make the right choices.
As the poem states, “water, sunshine, air, exercise, rest and diet” are all part of a healthy lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist, or a doctor, these are things we have at our fingertips to help us enjoy life every day. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.