Tips for Healthy Living
The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling.
Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, "What the River Knows," 1990
Everyone already knows what they need to do to be healthy.
The problem is actually doing it. Here are some tips that will make the road to health simpler:
1. Go for a walk.
Five days a week, get outside and go for a walk. Even if it's only for ten minutes. What will this do for you? Walking takes care of three of the six "best doctors" listed in the poem above: sunshine, air, and exercise. Sure, ten minutes a day is not that much exercise. But often what prevents us from doing things that are healthy for us are our fears that if we don't do it perfectly, we shouldn't do it at all.
If you make it a priority to go for a ten minute walk, five days a week, you just may find that those ten minutes stretch to fifteen, twenty, or even thirty. Walking outside clears the mind, releases stress, and the sunshine helps form Vitamin D. Even if you go to the gym for a good workout, you should still make time to get outside for a walk every day.
2. Focus on increasing, rather than eliminating.
Much of the health news that we read today is about eliminating sugar, trans-fat, cholesterol, etc. If you spend all of your time reading labels and trying to eliminate all of the things that are bad for you, you'll go crazy. Instead, concentrate on increasing the good things:
Drink eight glasses of water a day.The next time you reach for a drink, make it a glass of water. The more water you drink, the less soda and coffee you'll likely consume.
Increase the amount of fruits and veggies that you eat.When you get tired in the afternoon, reach for an apple instead of a candy bar. When cooking your evening meal or ordering take-out, make sure there are some leafy greens in the mix. It's so much nicer to think, "I'll eat an apple and then if I'm still hungry I'll have a candy bar," rather than to think, "I can't eat candy bars ever again." Focus on adding more healthy foods to your diet, and then congratulate yourself when you eat them. This approach to eating is much healthier than strict elimination diets.
Get more sleep.Many patients say they're tired and ask me what they should do about it. The first question I ask is, "How much sleep do you get?" If you're getting seven hours or less a night, chances are that another hour will do you a world of good. Even if you're already managing to sleep eight hours, try sneaking in thirty minutes more and see how much better you feel in the morning.