When faced with the desire to “get healthier”, even the best intentions can get lost in the details, especially if you’ve read about “diets” such as Paleo or Zone. Trying to figure out what to eat, when to eat it and how to modify your eating and shopping habits can get so overwhelming that it’s easy to revert to status quo. If you’re having trouble getting started on a path to better health (whether its athletic performance, longevity, quality of life, or even just to look good naked you are concerned about), keep in mind these three simple tips to kick off your quest:
1. Get rid of processed food! You! Yes you snacking on a bag of chips or making dinner every night out of the frozen food aisle! As the old adage goes, “Only eat things your grandparents would recognize as food.” Start shopping the perimeter of the grocery store: meats/seafood/eggs, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and minimally processed dairy–and no, ice cream does NOT count as a healthy dairy product. Start to read labels. If you can’t pronounce what’s in your food (as a chemistry teacher, even I stumble on some of the words I see on ingredient lists), you shouldn’t be eating it. Besides being loaded with weird chemicals and preservatives, processed foods are loaded with excess salt, sugar and unhealthy fats. The maddening part is that they are often engineered this way to play with our brains in an addictive sense. A good rule of thumb is to consume food in the purest form possible.
2. Drink more water. This probably sounds cliche and like common sense to most of us, but we’ve become a society always looking for sugary or fattening drinks to “hydrate” us. From soda to sports drinks to Frapuccinos, we seem to have forgotten about the importance of plain old H2O. Aim for half your body weight in ounces but consider excessive heat and activity level in your volume. If you are an athlete, you have alternatives other than sports drinks! Try a sugarless electrolyte replacement such as Elete drops or plain old salt tablets.
3. Devote more time to sleep. Period. Aim for eight to nine hours a night. I know the rebuttal well: “I am too busy!” I’m here to tell you that there are things you are doing which are not improving your quality of life all that much, things you could give up or limit, that would benefit you greatly to give up. Maybe it’s time to start giving yourself a curfew or putting a limit on the amount of television you watch or how much time you are online. Try it! I think the sentence, “Wow, I just feel too rested,” has been uttered by nobody, ever.
Your health and well-being has to be your priority! Take these three steps today towards being an improved you.