Let’s face it. Most people in this country are not healthy. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, chronic pain, and cancer are at all-time highs, despite all the money being spent to “cure” these diseases. Of course, the best way to “cure” these diseases is to never have them in the first place! So, here are 10 things you can do TODAY to get you on the fast track to better health.
1. Start a Food Log
The first step in fixing a problem is admitting that you have one. But what if you don’t KNOW you have a problem? By keeping a food log, you can determine what you are actually consuming each day. There are free online services, like www.fitday.com which allows you to keep track of the foods you eat each day. You simply input the food and the quantity and the software calculates your intake of fat, carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The results may surprise you. When you see that you are actually consuming 400 grams of carbs per day, that can be the wakeup call you need to make change.
2. Get a Workout Buddy
If you have read my blog before, you know that I have some strong opinions on what exercises are most beneficial (and which are the most harmful..ahem...chronic jogging on cement...ahem). But honestly, do you know what the best exercise is?
The one you will do. And the best way to stick with your exercise plan is to get a workout buddy. You’ll be less likely to skip out on workouts and more likely to stick with it long term.
3. Walk More
Humans are designed to be upright, instead of sitting all day staring at computers, iPads, and TV screens. Walking is essential to the health. It keeps your muscles and bones strong, your joints loose, and your waistline slim. Park farther away. Take the stairs. Get a dog.
4. Vent Your Frustrations
Chronic stress is a risk factor for nearly every disease we have a name for. If you don’t deal with it, your health will suffer. So if something is bothering you, tell somebody. Of course, constantly whining about every little thing will drive your friends and family nuts, but you should have someone to talk to when serious problems are eating you up.
When you feel stressed, go for a brisk walk. Hit a punching bag. Do 20 push ups. Go fishing. Go play catch with your kids. Trust me, you’ll feel better.
5. Go to Bed Earlier
Most Americans do not get enough sleep. People stay up to watch Monday Night Football, play video games, chat online, play around on facebook, etc. But this can have serious consequences in regards to health. Lack of sleep causes overeating, inability to fight infection, and hormonal imbalances, to name a few. You should be getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night. Period.
6. Get Adjusted
Spine problems cause pain. Most everyone knows that. However, spinal misalignments can cause other dysfunctions in the body, besides pain. Numbness, tingling, sleep disturbances, lack of energy, digestive troubles, and decrased ability to fight infection can all be attributed to spinal dysfunction. Make a chiropractor a part of your health team to fight pain AND improve overall function.
7. Get off the Pills
If you are on any prescription medication, you should have a talk with your doctor about how long you can expect to need that particular drug. Some must be taken for life while others are more or less temporary. If possible, make lifestyle changes in order to get off the medication faster. For instance, the vast majority of people on type 2 diabetes can manage the condition with exercise and diet, allowing them to lower their medication. If your doctor will not take the time to help you decrease your dependence on medication, find one who will.
8. Improve Your Relationships
Find a hobby that you and your significant other can enjoy together. Schedule out time in the week for a special one-on-one time with your child. Take your dad out to lunch. Everyone is busy, but taking the time to nurture your relationships is well worth it. The better your relationships are, the better you feel overall.
9. Eat Real Food
I often tell my patients that if a food has more than five ingredients, it is no longer food. It is a food-like substance. Pre-packaged “foods” that contain ingredients with 14-syllable words are not good fuel for your body. The occasional fast food run is fine, but if the majority of your meals come out of a box (including a drive-thru window) you need to reconsider what you are putting into your body.
10. Commit Random Acts of Fitness
Do you want to stay fit and healthy? Is time an issue? No problem. When you have a spare five minutes, bust out a couple sets of pushups and bodyweight squats. Find some stairs in the office and climb them. Take a brisk walk after lunch. Do the corrective exercises your chiropractor gave you! If you don’t have time to dedicate to long workout sessions, grab your exercise in small bunches. It all adds up!
Please do not look at this list and think “That’s a lot of things to change! I can’t do all that right now!” Just start with one of the things on this list. Make it a habit. Then pick another one off the list. Within weeks, you have implemented ten powerful tools that will help you get healthy and stay that way!