Smart Steps to Live Healthier This Year
Chances are, if you’re like many of us, you have a lot on your plate. Between work, social obligations, and family – it can be difficult to carve out time to think about your health, let alone take
the necessary steps to protect or improve it. However, without our health everything else falls by the wayside. Below are five of my favorite steps to protect and improve your health – they might even be easier and more enjoyable than you may think!
1. Get Moving – It Matters
Consider for a minute how much of your day is spent sitting at a desk, in meetings, or in the car. It stands to reason that we need to combat all this sitting with 30 minutes of activity 3 to 5 times a week. Now think about the many benefits of exercise beyond dropping a few pounds or losing a couple of inches. Exercise is known to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes and even some forms of cancer. Exercise can also improve your mood & outlook and has a powerful anti-aging effect on the body. The benefits are clear so what’s holding you back? Maybe cardio isn’t your thing – consider taking up dance, boxing or martial arts – it all counts and adds up. And remember ladies, weights and resistance training aren’t just for the men – both help build lean muscle and improve bone density. If you begin to feel groggy at work, get outside and take a midday walk – the fresh air and movement will get your blood flowing and you may be surprised at how many great ideas and solutions present themselves during your “break”. The key is to find ways to incorporate exercise into your life consistently.
2. Understand That “You Are What You Eat”
Our bodies are quite literally made up of the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. Anyone who has been to a supermarket lately can attest to the overwhelming number of choices available – there are countless products marketed to help make healthy eating easier. However, chances are that many of these “convenience foods” are packaged and contain unnecessary fillers that are less than ideal. Instead of shopping the entire store, stick to the perimeter and focus on fresh, and in some cases frozen, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Putting higher quality and clean foods into your body will help turbo-boost your performance. From physical energy to mental stamina and optimized mood –
quality sourced, natural food is a key ingredient. To streamline eating and ensure you stick to your plan, create a weekly menu that includes all of your main meals, snacks and treats. Being mindful about what you plan to purchase and intend to eat can significantly improve how and what you consume. If you live with picky eaters take baby steps and introduce new, healthier alternatives slowly and give options. Keep in mind smoothies and soups are a great way to get fruits and vegetables into your diet regularly without giving up satisfaction.
3. Protect Your Sleep
For many of us quality sleep can seem like a luxury – however, study after study shows that short-changing yourself in this area can have dire consequences both in the long and short-term.
Sleep impacts mood, focus, heart health, and stress levels, to name a few. When we rest, our body has time to repair and recharge. Ideally, your sleep schedule should be adhered to as strictly as your arrival time to the office each day – that is to say if you arrive late to bed, be prepared to stay late. In a perfect world your bedtime would be at the same time each night allowing you to get between 7 and 9 hours of rest depending on your body’s unique makeup and needs. Regular evening routines also help signal to your body that the end of the day is near and it’s time to start relaxing and preparing for this restorative time. Avoiding blue LED screens and technology a couple of hours before bed and establishing night-time patterns can help ensure you experience optimized sleep. Try making a cup of herbal tea, washing your face and putting on comfortable clothes about an hour before lights out – that way when it’s time to crawl into bed you don’t need to fuss with anything that might delay your bedtime. For anyone with children you know of the importance of adhering to a bedtime routine – this childhood need for consistency might be one that we never completely outgrow and that benefits us.
4. Socialize – It’s Good For Your Psyche
The importance of a strong social network shouldn’t be underestimated – humans are by definition social creatures. This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to be the life of the party every night, but it does mean that connecting regularly with others in meaningful ways is part of what makes us human. For those of us that are highly driven in our careers, socializing can seem like wasted time if it’s not netting some sort of professional or goal-oriented benefit. However, whether you enjoy a phone conversation with a relative in a distant city, coffee with a friend or story-time with a child – taking the time to connect will energize you
rather than deplete you.
5. Enjoy Big Benefits from Downtime
For some, winding down comes as naturally as eating. For others, it can feel nearly impossible or completely uncomfortable. Rather than thinking of relaxing as wasted time, consider it as a strategic way to help your mind and body recharge and re-emerge stronger and more prepared
to accomplish what’s next in your life or on your to-do list. Whether you take a walk, read a book, soak in the tub, or get a massage – slowing down allows your mind to settle, refocus, and gain a clearer perspective. You might be surprised at how much you begin to enjoy and benefit from making time to recharge your mental and physical self.
Here’s to living healthier this year!
An Executive Health & Lifestyle Coach®, Sylvaine N. Hughson, is the Founder and Director of SNH – The Art & Science of Optimized Living®. As the Principal Coach and Consultant for SNH, Sylvaine works closely with high-level professionals, performance-driven groups, and Fortune 500 companies. She helps her clients unleash the power of optimized mindset, wellness & lifestyle to fuel their peak performance and accomplish their most important goals.
She is certified as a Corporate Wellness Consultant, Corporate Wellness Provider, Holistic Health Coach, Master Transformational Coach, Raw Living Foods Health Educator, FirstLine Therapy Lifestyle Educator, Professional Life Coach, Yoga Instructor and Traditional Reiki Master.
Tags: beverages, bodies, consistent, convenience, downtime, exercise, foods, fresh air, healthy, mindful, mood, movement, outlook, psyche, recharge, Sleep, slowing down, smoothies, social network, vegetables