10 Simple Steps to a Healthier Body
You know all the excuses. “I don’t have time to exercise.” “I can’t afford the special food.” “It’s just too hard to make all those changes.” But being healthier doesn’t have to be time consuming, expensive, or difficult. Here are ten simple steps anyone can take to start on the road to a healthier body.
- Drink more water. Most beverages in the American diet are empty-calorie drinks, providing little, if any, health benefit. And even if calorie-free drinks are substituted for sugar-laden sodas, they usually contain other undesirable ingredients such as caffeine and artificial colors and flavors. By substituting water for other liquids in our diet, we encourage the delicate balance of blood chemistry, help maintain healthy kidney and colon function, and hydrate our skin, giving it a healthier appearance.
- Change to whole grain cereals and breads. Studies have shown a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in women who ate whole grain products. And a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that men who ate one serving of whole grain cereal per day were less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than those who ate less than one serving per day, regardless of other medical factors. Look for 100 percent whole wheat bread, long grain brown rice, and cereals such as shredded wheat, bran, and other whole grains. Your heart, arteries, and colon will appreciate it and you’ll add quality years to your life.
- Buy bite-sized candies. The average chocolate bar has a whopping 250 calories. By substituting small servings of the sweet stuff, you can feed the need for chocolate without sabotaging your health. Keep a bag of Hershey’s Kisses™ in the refrigerator and treat yourself to one or two—everyday if you’d like! You’re only eating 50 calories, but that melt-in-your-mouth flavor feels like real indulgence.
- Avoid smoke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 65,000 people will die this year from lung cancer or heart disease, even though they’ve never smoked. The culprit? Second-hand smoke. Researchers confirm the damaging effects of smoke-filled environments such as restaurants, sports events, and the workplace. Take charge of your air. Support businesses that ban all smoking, and support a healthy environment. If you smoke, stop. The International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that a tobacco-caused disease will kill one-half of all persistent cigarette smokers. The good news is most harmful effects can be avoided if adults stop smoking in their early 30’s, and there is a reduced risk when smoking is stopped at any age. So quit—now.
- Walk the talk. In this age of the cordless telephone, exercise is easier than ever. Don’t waste that gab time sitting on the sofa with your legs propped up. Move around! Walk a continuous path through your house or climb the stairs as you catch up on the latest news. You’ll not only burn those unwanted calories, but the activity will help you avoid eating while on the phone. Expect to burn 50 or more calories per 15-minute gabfest.
- Take the stairs. Like walking during phone time, taking the stairs can make a big difference in your level of health. Too many steps? Start with one floor, then take the elevator the rest of the way. As your condition improves, add another floor, and then another. By simply adding one floor every week, you not only burn hundreds of extra calories, but you can increase your lung capacity and endurance as well.
- Don’t think “diet,” think “healthy lifestyle.” The only way to successfully lose weight and live healthier is to change your way of thinking about food and exercise. Susan Burke, MS, Director of Nutrition Services at www.eDiets.com, puts it this way: “When you ‘go’ on a diet, you will lose weight if you follow the directions. But what happens when you go ‘off’ the diet? If you haven’t made permanent changes to your usual diet and activity, you will probably regain the weight…and more. Research shows that over 90 percent of people who lose weight on diets regain the weight within five years.” Diets also program us to think we’re depriving ourselves. Don’t say you’ll never eat another dessert or favorite food, just eat it wisely. And don’t focus on one food group to the exclusion of another. A healthy diet includes all groups in the food pyramid and helps us view food as an ally, not an enemy.
- Take a multivitamin. Thirty years ago, doctors felt healthy adults didn’t need added vitamins. That is not the case today. Due to the refining process and the increased intake of fast food, the average American diet is missing the mark. By taking a multivitamin, we assure an adequate amount of important nutrients, essential for good health.
- Eat a kaleidoscope of fruits and vegetables every day. The average American diet has evolved into a dreary hodge-podge of processed mixes and fast foods, largely devoid of nutrients and heavy in fat and calories. Patti Jo Capelli, RN and Certified Personal Trainer, recommends adding at least one brightly-colored salad a day—one which does not include pepperoni, salted nuts, or mayonnaise-based dressings. Pick produce of different colors and textures to greatly increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Substitute the darker green leafy vegetables for pale, nutrient-deficient iceberg lettuce. And try a new fruit or vegetable every week. You’ll be surprised at the choices.
- Care for the temple. Capelli says, “First Corinthians 6:19-20 makes it clear that treating our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit is not an option open to discussion. And Romans 12:1-2 says that we worship God by offering our bodies to Him. Are you worshipping God through what you eat? Evaluate your choices in food. Concentrate on creating the healthiest, cleanest temple possible. After all, that is your reasonable service.”
There they are, ten simple changes. Nothing is difficult or expensive or time-consuming, but each one will put you one step closer to offering the Holy Spirit the environment He deserves.
(Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)