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Are Your Lifestyle Choices Killing You Slowly?

Updated on August 12, 2012

Are Your Lifestyle Choices Killing You Slowly?

The biggest challenge today regarding your health is the decision to make the best choices. The media has flooded the marketplace with an overwhelming amount of information on dieting, exercise, nutritional supplements, and many other health-related issues. Furthermore, what makes our decisions seem more difficult is that most of the information we receive are contradictory.

When products make bold statements like, “Lose 25 pounds by taking Product X in two weeks” or “Reduce heart disease with our product instantly”, it’s seemingly hard not to get sucked in. However, remember that most of these products are not doctor prescribed, or FDA approved, and are merely competing against each other in sales.

So how do we decide when it comes to our health? Some doctors advise simply to stick with the basics, (eating healthier and exercising) which is a more sensible approach than experimenting with every new health fad that comes along. Nevertheless, by doing so, you’ll save time, money, and frustration.

Sticking to the basics – is it too hard to do? Let’s consider five “positive lifestyle changes” you can start with today.

1. Healthy Habits Equals Healthy Foods

Changing eating habits can be very hard for some. In fact, some may find it hopeless and not worth it, if they have to deprive themselves continually of foods they enjoy. However, rather than adopt an all-or-nothing approach, start by taking baby steps. Could you start off by switching that candy bar you usually eat everyday in the afternoon as a snack with a piece of fruit or even a granola bar?

What about preparing your breakfast and lunch the day before if you have to, that way you’re not tempted to go out for fast food. Take the time out to make a list of healthy foods and snacks you like or think you might eat. Keep the list with you at all times, and choose from those foods instead of the unhealthy ones.

The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide says: “Adopting a healthy lifestyle does not mean that you have to stop enjoying life.” The goal should eventually be to reduce your intake of fat so that it represents no more than 30 percent of your total calories, according to the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA).

2. Exercise by Adding One Minute

Start small. If you don’t exercise, start thinking about ways you can add any amount of exercise into your daily routine, even if it’s one minute. For example, the next time you go to the grocery store or if you drive to work, park in a space that’s much further than you would normally. Even that simple little change can make a difference.

Emily, who has a desk job was usually the first to get to work and always parked in the first row of spaces. She wanted to lose weight but never seemed to make the time to exercise. Her doctor advised her to buy a “walk counter” and to start parking in the third row, rather then in the first row as she normally did. She tried it out for an entire month and was amazed at the results. She walked an extra 1300 steps from that one suggestion from her doctor. In addition, she lost five pounds. From then on, she was committed to not only taking advantage of this at work, but anywhere she traveled.

Additionally, could you take the stairs, instead of the elevators at your office or job? If you have stairs at home, or in your apartment complex, you could even spend a few minutes walking up and down those. Walking is very beneficial. Why not take a walk around the block or even around your house or apartment building. Take it further, and join a gym or recreational center. Any amount of exercise even if it’s an additional 5 minutes a day could benefit your body, mind, and heart.

3. Drugs, Alcohol, and Smoking

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 health-threatening compounds, of which 200 are known poisons. The World Health Organization estimates that on a global scale, smoking claims three million lives annually. On the other hand, smokers suffer more frequent colds, gastric ulcers, chronic bronchitis, and higher blood pressure than nonsmokers.

On the other hand, illegal drugs should be avoided - even prescription drugs if abused, can cause death. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says: “Each year, drug abuse kills 14,000 Americans.” Drug abuse can also result in poor eating habits.

Additionally, we can’t overlook the consumption of alcohol. Alcoholism can lead to multiple health problems, not to mention negative emotional and behavior consequences. It’s estimated in the United States alcohol is a contributing factor in 50 percent of fatal automobile accidents and fires, 45 percent of drownings, and 36 percent of pedestrian accidents.

Denial is usually the case when dealing with the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Get help if you need it, or if you know of a loved one who needs help, get them help.

4. Keep Up With Regular Checkups

How long has it been since you’ve scheduled a doctor’s appointment? People don’t realize how vital regular doctor checkups are. We all want to have good health and live long, however, problems can and do occur. By having regular checkups is the best way to find out if you have a health issue that needs to be addressed, or avoid a possible problem from escalated.

Men especially at all cost have a tendency to avoid going to the doctor. Both doctor’s Jeffrey Frankel MD and David Reed, MD encourage men not to rely on symptoms or problems as an indicator that they should see their physician. They also advise men to have their prostate checked. Men over 50 years of age should have a Colonoscopy that screens for colon cancer.

Generally, doctors recommend a minimal of visiting the doctor once yearly, but if you have any family history of certain health problems, you may want to make visits twice yearly.

For women, this includes a pelvic exam, breast exam and pap smear, and a mammogram if you are 40 years of age or older.

Speaking of doctors, you should also visit the dentist, and have your teeth cleaned by your dentist twice a year. Your vision should also be checked regularly, especially for glaucoma.

5. Become Addicted To Water

Water is the #1 nutrient needed by the body. However, it seems as though most people would rather drink juices and pop. Nonetheless, water alone does your body wonders. Water can also help you lose weight. Most experts say drink cold water, because the stomach absorbs it more quickly. There is also some evidence that cold water enhances fat burning. When you begin drinking all the water your body needs, you’ll notice a decrease in your appetite.

If you just can’t stand water you could try adding lemon or drinking flavored water. Water is also in fruits and vegetables. However, the more water you drink over a period of time, the more your body will get used to it. Yes, at first you may go to the bathroom often, but that’s only because your body isn’t used to it. After a little while, you’re body will adjust, and will thank you for the extra fluid. Water - Drink it up!

Lastly,consult your doctor make a plan to live a positive and healthy lifestyle. Just remember, any small positive change that you can make towards your health is a good one.


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