Tips For Becoming a Healthier Person
I am the last person to come to for advice on the idea of fitness! I don't exercise, I don't diet, and don't need to. I eat what I want, drink what I want, and smoke like a chimney. So, why am I writing this, then? Who would take advice from me? Because I think the whole industry is crazy. Yep, I said it!!! The idea of working out for hours a day, not eating anything that wasn't organically grown by virgin monks in the mountains, and obsessing about the latest diet craze is the real source of the problem. I live by a philosophy of everything in moderation. Don't live on fast food for three meals a day, but don't deny yourself the things you enjoy, either. That is just asking for failure. Simple changes are the best ways to live a healthy life. Drastic changes, and crash diets almost always end in failure. Start small.
Why I Don't Exercise
I am not here to tell you that I sit on the computer all day, and once my eyes start to bleed from staring at the screen, I retreat to my bed for a few hours of rest. I am just saying that I don't have a gym membership, or expensive exercise equipment. I do own exercise equipment, but I haven't really used it all that much, or even really seen it in over a year. I don't go running. I own a series of workout DVD's, but I bought them more because I lack any skills in dancing, and they have helped in that regard.
However, I am not inactive. Not by my standards, anyway. I do a lot. I play at the park with my daughters, chasing them around the playground. I clean my house everyday, and trust me, that can be a workout all by itself.
I would rather get my exercise spending time with my family and friends, doing something fun. I went to the bar one day and played beach volleyball with my sister. It sometimes makes me giggle to see people take an elevator at work, take that same elevator when they leave work, only to head to a gym, where they hop on a stair climber for an hour. Save your money, and take the stairs at work, or at least a few flights of them. I don't have the time to spend hours at the gym, and I can't see spending the money to do things that I can do at home. I run up and down the stairs at my house all the time. Why would I want to pay someone money to let me run up and down an imaginary set of stairs? If I want to run, I will take my daughter to the park. If I want to ride a bike, I will take my bike out of the garage and go for a bike ride with a friend.
As for weight training...I have no need for that. I don't want to be the future Ms. Universe. I get all the weight training I need. I lug load after load of laundry up and down the stairs. (There are those stairs again!) I lift my daughter up and carry her around, although she is getting a little big for that. I babysit my nieces from time to time, and trust me, my one-year old niece weighs a lot! I carry groceries into the house several times a week. I lug boxes of Halloween and Christmas decorations up and down from the attic every year. I rearrange the furniture in my house several times a year, as well. All that adds up, but I do try to incorporate a little at home weight training into my everyday routine. It may be as simple as organizing my large pantry, or playing a game with my daughter. She likes to be lifted up, and then tilted back, so that her head almost touches the ground. She weighs over twenty pounds, so that is a bit of a workout.
I get plenty of exercise just living my life. I don't need to spend time and money on things that are only going to take me away from the things I love to do, and have to do. I feel that a lot of people obsess about the issue of fitness. If someone wants to do yoga, fine. I am not saying don't join a gym, or don't buy that treadmill you have been thinking about. All I am saying is think about areas in your life where you already get exercise, or where you could add exercise that is fun. When I was married before, I had free access to the gym on base. The only thing that was fun about it was that I went with my best friend. I would much rather have been in my house doing the very same things. I did learn a few tricks for strengthening my core, but found a way to incorporate that into my daily activities, as well.
Think of little ways in which you could incorporate a little more exercise into your life. Make several trips to and from the car with your groceries, rather than trying to carry it all at once. When you are clearing the clutter in your house, make sure to grab a few things, walk around and put them where they belong, and then go back and grab a few more. Think of all that walking you will be doing. To keep track of how much you are walking during the day, get a pedometer, or download a pedometer app on your smartphone. It's recommended that you take at least 10,000 steps a day. That seems like a lot, but it goes by pretty quickly. If you are under that, think of ways in which you can add a few steps, here and there. I take a walk with my youngest daughter every evening. Even a short walk can had a few thousand steps.
A Great Pedometer to Track Your Steps
Prancercise...I am not making this up
Why I Don't Diet
I tried diets. After my kids were born, I obsessed over losing that baby weight. I stopped eating carbs, I cut out fat, I tried everything. I was never able to stick to a diet, because I hate the idea of not being able to eat the things that I like. Diets don't work. Doctors will tell you the same thing.
I like food! Plain and simple! Am I a food addict? Not even remotely. I just love food. I like to try new foods, and I am pretty sure that a few of my favorite foods are 'bad for me'. I drink coffee. I happen to like coffee. Is coffee bad for me? That depends on which news show you happened to catch that night. Some studies say it's bad, others say it is good for you. This seems to be the case with a lot of things. Eggs are good, eggs are bad. Carbs are good, carbs are bad. Science can never seem to make up it's mind on anything. That's why I don't give much attention to the latest craze, or current study on nutrition.
The way I look at it, everything is fine in moderation. I don't over-analyze it. I eat what I want, but I never eat too much of one thing. Let's go back to when we were kids. Remember those days? Before Atkins, The South Beach diet, and before obesity was as high as it is today. People ate what they wanted. People did not count every calorie they ate, or add up 'points' for each bite of food they ate, and obesity wasn't the issue it is today.
Eat a balanced diet, and eat what makes you happy, just do so in moderation. Don't eat an entire package of Oreos in one sitting, but don't throw every cookie in your house in the trash, either. You have a sweet craving, eat a couple cookies, and maybe some fruit. You get to satisfy that craving for sweets without eating an entire carton of ice cream.
My best advice when it comes to your diet, eat what makes you happy, in moderation. Eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Raw is better than cooked, when it comes to fruits and veggies, not steak. I eat vegetarian about one night a week, or so. Not because of any diet issue, just because I like it. I love salad, but tend to go a little heavy on the dressing, so I buy lighter dressing. I do little things here and there to adjust my eating habits for the better. I will still eat ice cream, but only once in awhile, and I try to eat it earlier in the day, when I am going to be more active, and have switched to frozen yogurt instead. Little steps are the best way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Drastic changes are not recommended, unless it's medically necessary.
I know a lot of people who have gone gluten-free recently. Some did so out of necessity, while others did so because they thought it would make them healthier. I don't know how I feel about the whole gluten-free thing. I hate to admit it, but I love gluten. I love bread and pasta! Will I try gluten-free bread(which I refuse to call actual bread) or pasta? I am willing to give it a try. I just see this as the next thing that is bad for you. A few years from now, gluten will be good for you, and something else will be bad for you. Again, if it's not medically necessary, maybe replace your regular pasta with a gluten-free alternative once in awhile, and see how you like it. It is much easier to make a slow transition, rather than a drastic one.
Are You Healthy?
Do you consider your lifestyle to be healthy?
Part of being healthy is being happy. Stress can lead to weight gain, raises our blood pressure, messes with our sleep cycle, and can even cause ulcers. Stressing over your weight and fitness only adds to the problem. It's a vicious cycle. If you love to bike ride, get a bike, and find a bike path, and ride; rather than sitting on a stationary bike in a gym. Or, maybe, listen to music while on that stationary bike or treadmill, to make the time a little more enjoyable.
Do things that are fun. Relax and enjoy your life. Don't obsess about every little detail, and find ways to relieve stress in your life. Diet and exercise do not have to consume your life. Like the old song says, "don't worry, be happy!"
© 2008 Anna Marie Bowman