To understand why I’m writing this, read my previous post about health: What Does “Healthy” Even MEAN? Part 1: Why You Should Care
On another note, my social media name doesn’t work too well in the possessive. Oh well. We’ll talk about that some other day, because today is a special day. It’s the day where you get the most brief, real, and hopefully (but no guarantees, okay, I’m no expert) useful guide to health.
I know swimsuit season is ending, and frumpy sweater season is right around the corner (hooray for sweater weather!), but that doesn’t mean taking care of yourself isn’t important anymore. If you disagree, go read my last post. Or, for that matter, any health book ever written. Good health contributes to overall happiness year-round and has a lot more to it than just weight.
The toughest part about being healthy, for me at least, is knowing what really matters and what doesn’t. I’ve tried to read, watch, and listen to what a lot of different people say. A lot of opinions conflict, but a precious few tips have remained generally consistent across the board. Those, as well as things that have personally helped me to feel better, are what I’ll include here.
1–Love yourself! This is more important than you think. If you don’t care about yourself, why would you make sacrifices to stay healthy? Don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t where you want to be yet. Nothing ruins a diet (or any health plan) quicker than guilt and remorse. And remember that your goal should be to be happy: not to have a body just like someone else’s. Like I mentioned earlier, health means much more than just weight.
2–Water. Drink a lot of it, especially when you sweat. I tend to drink a lot of water, so when I don’t, I notice a big difference. It helps a lot in the morning, as well. I know how hard waking up can be (NOT a morning person here), and chugging a glass of water when my alarm goes off gets me going each day.
3–Exercise. I think we all know that we should exercise. But actually implementing a consistent program is tough. I’m still working on this. I’m usually great for a couple weeks, then I get lazy, then I start to feel awful, so I start again, then I get busy or tired, and I don’t keep up with it, and so goes the cycle . . . sound familiar to anyone? If not, I commend you for your dedication. If so, I think the key is to not expect too much of yourself. Doing something is better than nothing. Instead of feeling like you have to set aside an hour or more to go to the gym or run several miles, you can go for a short run/walk or do a Tabata workout (they are only 4 minutes) or other forms of HIIT. (I’ll actually be writing a follow-up post about this).
4–Natural and whole foods. I’m not going to say that everyone needs to vow to never again buy or consume anything that is not 100% natural, organic, raw, and vegan. Only the most determined of people can keep up an extreme regimen like that, and it’s just not reasonable or desirable for everyone. We could all afford, however, to include more natural foods in our diet. If you think about what you’re putting into your body when you eat processed, pre-packaged, and fast foods, it’s a little bit scary. People were meant to eat what comes from the earth, not from a lab. I’m not going to tell you to eat a certain number of vegetables, fruits, etc. each day, because I know that ends up just sounding like a to-do list and it’s tough to keep up with. Just keep it in mind as you make daily food decisions. For example, you could decide to eat some salad with your dinner instead of frozen french fries. It takes about the same amount of work/time/money but your body will be much happier.
5–Sleep. I know, you’ve heard it before. I know, it’s basically impossible when there is so much to do every single day. But my sagely (hah) advice is: figure out how much sleep you need every night in order to be happy and productive the next day. For me, it’s at least 8 hours. For some, it’s much less. Whatever it is, remember that it’s more worth your time to get that amount of sleep than to stay up doing something else. For me this is really hard because I get this big burst of energy at night and I suddenly feel like doing everything. Then, I pay serious consequences in my classes the next day . . . it’s a good thing that I’m writing this to remind myself that I need to work on this!
Well I think we’ll just leave it at those 5 for now. I hope this is helpful/motivational for some of you. If not, let Andy from Parks and Rec be an inspiration to you.