While we are learning about Obamacare (ACA) – see previous post – there are a few simple things you can do RIGHT NOW to care for your health.
No matter what all I suggest in the rest of this post, it really won’t be anywhere near as effective if you don’t include exercise.
Walking around the block once a day or 3 times a week does wonders. Go on a 20 minute bike ride. If you are like me, and are not always ambulatory, sitting in a chair and doing arm lifts, body rotations, and shadow boxing etc also works great.
Use variety in your exercises and use opportunities as they come your way – take a short flight of steps instead of the elevator, join your neighbor when they walk their dog, do sit ups, stretches, jog in place or do seated exercises during commercials when you watch TV etc.
The idea is to get your heart rate above normal. That helps to burn calories and gets those endorphins pumping which goes a long way toward mood elevation and combating stress and depression as well as increased fitness.
Simple things like stretching, calisthenics, like running in place, jumping jacks, sit-ups, arm and leg lifts you can do in the privacy of your own home. You don’t need to join a gym to get a good work out.
Search the internet for simple, short, effective exercises you can do with your own level of ability and fitness. I acknowledge that I’m speaking from an able-bodied (for the most part) point of view; There are great youtube vids and websites that show accommodations for differing ambulatory levels, body types, abilities etc.
You can use soup cans, a backpack full of heavy schoolbooks, handled cloth shopping totes as weights for your arm exercises. Be creative!
Have A Food Plan
I don’t use the world diet. Because: DIE-ET. See? Let us not kill ourselves here ok? Think “Food Plan”. A lot of times we just go through the grocery store filling our carts on autopilot. WAKE UP!
Pay attention to what you are putting in your body.
This is very very very very IMPORTANT: Stop Drinking Soda.
I cannot emphasize this enough. You may as well dump a cup full of sugar into a glass of water and slurp it down. I suggest going cold turkey. But at the very least, try cutting your soda intake by half for two weeks and see if you don’t notice a difference in:
a) Your energy level
b) Body shape (I’ll touch on that at the end of this post)
c) Health indexes like blood sugar levels, propensity towards diabetes and obesity etc.
(I worry, because so many of you are borderline diabetic and don’t even realize it. Don’t have a nasty surprise waiting for you on that next visit to your doctor).
Buy plain old soda water or carbonated water. It helps with that craving for bubbly drinks. Some come in flavors – watch sugar levels on those. But you can add your own flavoring with a squeeze or two and slices from fresh fruit – lemons, oranges, limes. Make your own soda!
You can also check out natural sodas from brands like Hansens and Pellegrino.
Read the labels on the food you are buying. Not the front label – the back or the side where ingredients and Nutrition Facts are listed. Sorry to say but our food industry is very sneaky. Let me break it down for you.
What is usually listed is the Amount Per Serving. Check to see just how many servings are in what you are buying. You might go hey not so bad, only X amount of sugars! Well multiply X by the number of servings to get the REAL DEAL on how much is in there.
Try to buy lowfat or nonfat foods. Foods high in sodium are not so great for you either. I never count carbs because carbohydrates break down into energy. And you’ll need that for your workouts. Calories are similar. However, I don’t need to say that eating the equivalent of a loaf of bread every other day isn’t a good idea. Use your common sense. Become more aware of just WHAT it is you are eating.
No Duh But Will List Anyway:
Eat fresh fruit
Eat lots of colorful vegetables
Whole grains are GREAT!
Try brown rice instead of white rice, or mix it up – dirty rice? YEAH.
Avoid fast food
Nuts and berries, raisins etc – trail mix type deal – makes a great snack for a quick boost of energy.
Did You Know:
Eating more often helps to keep your metabolism in high gear. Aside from your three healthy meals a day, include healthy snack-times in between.
Never. Starve. Yourself. Your body will go into OMG Food Is Scarce The Apocalypse Has Arrived Mode and cling to every last fat and energy cell like its life depended on it. Keep those healthy snacks handy – baggie of baby carrots, container of healthy left-overs from dinner last night, a pocket full of peanuts ;)
Do not punish yourself if you slip up. Like if you stop exercising regularly or ate a bag of potato chips during that Scandal marathon. Simply re-affirm your goals, give your willpower a mental Hug, and continue on your way.
You might think that you are doing so awesome by buying juice for your family instead of soda. Well look on the label before you buy. Sometimes it is around the back, or on the side. (sneaky!) It will say something like: Contains % Juice. MANY will have no more than %20 actual juice. Which means the rest is umm what… water, sugar, food coloring I dunno. Look for %100 Juice. Double check on the ingredients label too.
I would tell you to avoid high fructose corn syrup, but it is in EVERYTHING, but do what you can. Sometimes there are two brands of %100 Juice right next to each other on the shelf, and one won’t have HFCS included in the ingredients. It happens. SNAG ON IT when you see it, and remember the brand for next time.
I know that I am coming from a privileged point of view where I have access to a “normal” grocery store that carries fruits and vegetables and even a wide selection of healthier (un-processed) foods. I also have access to straight up health food stores, and farmer’s markets and so on.
I also know that in a lot of cases, health food, healthier food, fruits, vegetables etc can/tend to cost more. Maybe put your soda budget towards a fresh fruit budget instead? Do what you can when you can.
I know that so many do not have that access to those things. Do what you can, when you can. I know that my dollar store also carries a lot of food items, and I get my %100 Apple Juice from there to help me stay away from soda. You can also add carbonated water to your healthy juice to give it some zing!
Weight Loss vs Body Shape
The other thing is I don’t weigh myself. I don’t have a scale in my home. I know how much I weigh approximately, because every now and then my doctor has to weigh me. Sometimes I ask what my weight is, most times I don’t – I keep my eyes squinched shut lol and ask not to be informed. I ask quarterly, about 4 times a year.
I know this is a revolutionary idea, but a great way to get fit and stay healthy, is to stop weighing yourself. Chuck out those scales!
You can tell if you are “losing weight” by how your clothes fit you. Your body shape will change as you keep up that steady exercise and pay attention to what you are eating, ie follow a Food Plan.
You will also notice your fitness level increasing. Maybe you breathe easier when you walk and do exercises. Maybe your skin starts to clear up. People might notice and comment that “you are looking much better” or you begin to notice that you have more energy.
Your doctor check ups, blood tests and other measures of health will start turning up more favorable results. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) will change. Your fat to muscle ratio will change. As you build muscles, and burn fat, your actual weight may go down, stay the same, plateau out, or even increase. Muscle weighs FAR MORE than fat does.
Which is why I say weighing yourself really is not the way to go. You might think you aren’t “losing weight” or your Food Plan “isn’t working”, if you base everything on numbers on a scale. I suggest once a month if you MUST.
Instead, check your internal health – blood tests, blood sugar levels, hypertension, etc and check your external health – body shape, how your clothes fit, the condition of your skin, hair and nails.
You Are What You Eat
What You Weigh
Special Note On Body Shape:
Our society has this THING about being THIN. I say EFF THAT. Outside of obesity, and morbid obesity, if you are healthy ie all systems GO (check with your doc – cuz you WILL have a doc now very soon if you don’t already because Obamacare) at whatever your shape is at that time: COOL.
Notice I say “shape” not “size”. Shape as in in-shape, as in fit, as in your own personal fitness. You are Beautiful.
Fitness does not equal thinness. Each person is unique. Get into that fitness that is YOU. You are not a dress size. You are not a jeans or pants size. You are not a number on a scale.
Love yourself enough to get healthy, stay healthy and pass along those healthy habits to your family and friends. Get in on that free preventative care and use that to back up what you have learned here today.
If you’ve been doing exercise regularly, and sticking to a good Food Plan: Treat yourself one day of the week. Have an ice cream sundae on Sunday. Or have french fries on Friday. You get the idea.
Changing your habits and lifestyle is not easy, and the psychology of treating yourself or giving yourself a reward for a week of kicking butt goes a long way to keep you moving forward.
Remember to take a break from exercise to let your body recover. Exercise every other day, and/or take weekends off. Or work upper body one day, lower body the next.
Final Nutrition Secret:
There is no such thing as “diet soda” or “diet (whatever food group)”. Because. Usually those things labeled as “diet” or “sugar-free” use this horrible chemical called: Aspartame.
You might have seen “sugar alternatives” like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure etc. They are basically aspartame.
Sugar itself is not bad for you. The problem is, OVERDOING sugar. It can be a very addictive substance. You may not realize just how addictive it is, but if you balked at my suggestion to stop drinking soda…
Fake sugar and these aspartame-filled “sugar alternatives” are so much worse for you than actual sugar. If all you drink is “diet” soda, and you refuse to stop drinking soda, then OK – switch to regular soda at the very least. (But seriously, QUIT soda Raht Nah!)
Sugar-free stuff usually means they don’t contain regular sugar, but they DO have aspartame instead. Sometimes you can read it right there on the ingredients label. AVOID AVOID AVOID!
Simply watch your sugar intake. Some foods that you wouldn’t think have (or need!) sugar, will have sugar in it. Like peanut butter. YES. I KNOW. Grab the brand that doesn’t include sugar (or fake sugar) in the ingredients. Read Your Food Labels.
Stop automatically dumping three spoonfuls of sugar into your coffee or tea. Try it with just one (or none!). Use natural sweeteners like honey, fresh fruit juice/slices or berries instead. Try sprinkling your cereal with banana and/or strawberry slices, or a dollop of honey. Bee creative! (see what I did there?)
Speaking of cereal, y’all do realize that feeding your kids (and yourself!) sugar-frosted choco-clusters for breakfast is really unwise. Just pour them a bowlful of candy and call it a day. Become Aware of what you are eating, and what you are feeding your family.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER EACH AND EVERY DAY.