Practical steps to a healthy lifestyle

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Your body is a complex, fine tuned machine and like any machine, even the smallest problem can cause it to malfunction. If you use the wrong engine oil or petrol in your car, it will breakdown. If you leave a car sitting in a driveway and never drive it, the battery will die, the parts will rust and it won’t drive.

Practicing a healthy lifestyle is the only way to keep your body functioning at its best. Like a car, you give it the right fuel by eating healthy nutritious foods. By exercising regularly you don’t allow “rust” to set in from inactivity. We all will age, but a body and mind that is well cared for now will carry you into your seventies and eighties still relatively fit and strong. A few years ago, I hurt my back and was taking yoga as part of my rehab regimen. My yoga instructor was 70 years old and one of the fittest and most flexible persons I have ever met.

 

To adopt a healthy lifestyle, you should:

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What you put in

Try to eat 3 portion-controlled meals a day that are a good combination of healthy high fiber carbohydrates, lots of fresh vegetables and lean protein. Never have more carbohydrates in a meal than what fits on the palm of one hand – fingers not included. That’s one slice of wheat bread, or 3 to 4 tablespoons of boiled rice only! If you’re unsure of what the right portion is, start by reducing the amount you usually eat by half. Cook with half the amount of oil you normally use and avoid fried foods. If you take 2 cubes of sugar in your tea or coffee, try one instead and cut back on salt too. You’ll get used to the taste over time.

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For breakfast I usually have a small bowl of oatmeal (Quaker oats), which is a high fiber complex carbohydrate, a small piece of smoked fish or one boiled egg. That combination gives me enough energy and keeps me sharp until lunch. Your largest meal should be at breakfast or lunch, not at dinner. A heavy dinner interferes with normal sleep cycle. Don’t ever eat to the point where you feel “stuffed”.

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Use it or lose it

Do you know that well-conditioned athletes who exercise regularly lose half of their cardiovascular conditioning after 3 months of inactivity? A beginner exerciser who has exercised regularly for 2 months will lose all cardiovascular conditioning within 2 months of not working out! Imagine how poor your cardiovascular fitness is, if you are regularly inactive.

 

Activity involves not just exercising at set times but also how much you get up and move around on a daily basis. Try not to be sedentary for more than 30 minutes at a stretch. Imagine yourself burning off whatever carbohydrates and fats you’ve eaten through exercise and activity, leaving only good protein in your system to build and strengthen. At work, get up and walk around your floor every 30 – 45 minutes, take the stairs every chance you get and hand deliver files and papers to other departments yourself. If you have a 45minute lunch break, spend 30 minutes eating and 15 minutes walking.

 

Set a goal to exercise for 30 minutes everyday. I find that if you set a goal for daily exercise you’ll end up exercising at least 3 – 4 times a week. If you are currently inactive, start by walking at a moderate pace for 20 minutes and build up to 30 minutes after 2 weeks. Add strength training twice a week, using weights or your own body resistance. Be sure to stretch gently before and after exercise and drink lots of water.

 

So what are you waiting for? Just do it!

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