In this season of holiday many of the world’s religions are celebrating. A common theme that runs through many religions and spiritual practices is love – love of self, love of others, love of what’s around us. So as the world celebrates in many ways it is time to celebrate yourself.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. First, I feed myself well. Second, I exercise regularly. Third, I get enough sleep. Fourth, I take time to relax and be quiet. How many of these can you say you do?
First, we must eat healthy. There are so many confusing choices out there that you must become an educated consumer if you are going to succeed in this department. Just this week a study reported that a low fat diet was not a factor. Let’s open that argument up. Low fat in general is not a factor in many diseases because our bodies need a certain amount of fat. Many vitamins are fat soluble, meaning you need fat for them to work. We now know that fat comes in many different types and a low fat diet today will look very different from the fads that hit mainstream more than a decade ago. Fat is not the problem, but what type is. First, think of fats in health vs not healthy. Then educate your self as to where each type is found. For example fats occurring in most fruits, vegetables, and nuts are considered healthy fats, although they still must be consumed in moderation. Saturated and trans fats are considered poor choices because they tend to expedite disease. When you are making food choices choice a diet with healthy fats and avoid the unhealthy ones. Make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables. Lack of fruits and vegetables is the number one problem I see with client diets, and is a huge factor in many diseases. If you have questions about your diet log onto: http://www.mypyramid.gov/ This food guide will let you customize your diet.
Second, you must move. As a regular reader you are aware of the benefits of movement, make sure you are getting enough. You should be getting cardiovascular and strength training in each week according to your goals. The heart, lungs, and vascular systems are the primary aims of cardiovascular training. We can test the body’s response to this type of work in different ways, but the easiest is to monitor your heart rate. There are simple formulas for figuring your heart rate or use a rate of perceived exertion scale. The best way to monitor your heart rate continuously is to purchase a heart rate monitor. This tool goes a long way toward reaching your goals. Strength training creates stronger muscles, more lean mass, denser bones, and increases metabolism. It is an important component of health and must not be ignored. Remember, strength training should be challenging. We create strength by overloading our muscles. We overload by placing them under stress and making them work. Way back when, overload was available in our daily routines. Most of us must create overload regularly to create more strength these days.
Third, are you getting enough sleep? This is so important, and many Americans are chronically tired. Sleep is important to the overall function of our bodies. It allows our body to restore and repair. Without sleep you will not function as well during waking hours, and lack of sleep can contribute to a variety of illnesses including depression. How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? Difficulty waking in the morning, an inability to concentrate during the day, feelings of moodiness, irritability, depression, or anxiety, or falling asleep during work or class are all indicators that you need more sleep. Your body will go into sleep debt and will expect to make up the needed sleep. If you do not make up the needed sleep you will then become chronically sleep deprived, opening yourself up to a whole host of problems. Sleep time should not be compromised. It is vital to your well-being.
Fourth, taking time to relax is very important. In our culture of doing more, consuming more, and constant “on” behavior we set ourselves up for disease. Just as our bodies need sleep, our minds need down time. For many this is difficult because many associate busy with success, however you will be more productive if you take time to rest. Studies show people who take a 10-minute break every 60-90 minutes are more productive than those who push through working. Get up, move around, stretch, take a mental vacation, sit quietly, turn out the lights in your office, breathe – the list can go on. Life must contain balance. When things are out of balance we find disease, depression, and pain. Look around your world and notice that all things crave balance. Your space, if it is too cluttered it can contribute to stress, if it is too sparse it can feel empty and uninviting which leads to your moving out of it. Look around your relationships, if they are too close they can feel suffocating, if there is not enough interaction you can be left to feel alone. You determine your levels of balance, and you have the power to change your world and create the balance you need to function optimally.
Finally, In this season of giving – give to yourself. If you are looking for change in your life, remember you are in charge. Show yourself that you are important each day by making choices that reflect your importance. Take care of yourself, and take accountability for your actions. Remember, your choices determine your outcomes, which determine your quality of life, and how will you count the ways in which you love thee?
Ready to plan for your health and wellness? Check out this article on Fitting Fitness Into Your Life.