Healthy living isn’t difficult. Your body is already an expert at bringing itself back into balance—turning down the temperature when it’s overheated, turning it up when there are viruses or bacteria to be eliminated, creating new skin when you cut your knuckles while swimming.
The most challenging part of staying healthy—and living a long life—is keeping out of the way of your body when it’s just trying to do its job. We like to believe that we are in control of everything. When it comes to your body, though, you should play a supporting role instead of stealing the lead.
There are an endless number of scientific studies and self-help books available to get back on the road to perfect health. If you are like many people, trying to choose a place to start can leave you feeling paralyzed by the possibilities. Barry Schwartz talks about this in his book, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.”
Healthy Living In Small Unsexy Steps
If you really want to live healthy, forget about all of your options and get started now. Even small changes in your life can have a huge impact later on. It’s also easier to stay motivated and stick to your plan when your goal is more manageable.
To get started, here are five (unsexy) steps to healthy living today. They aren’t flashy, and may not show up on the New York Times Best Sellers list. They will, however, lay the groundwork for healthier habits and a new outlook on life.
Work on all of them at once, or one at a time. But be sure to give them the space they need to grow. New habits take time to develop. Before long, though, you will see positive results blossoming in your life.
Eat More Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are nature’s pharmacy—full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to keep your body healthy and strong. Before you try to cut out junk food or other processed foods from your diet, make a point to eat at least five (or even nine) servings of fruits and vegetables a day. When you focus on adding positive habits to your life, less healthy ones—such as eating potato chips on the couch or drinking too much coffee—will drop away more easily.
Cut Back On Screen Time
Watching television, using the computer, and playing video games all contribute to the sedentary lifestyle of Americans and other Westernized nations. Physical inactivity, though, can kill. Most Americans don’t get the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. Restricting your screen time—and sticking to your goal—will automatically move you one step (or many steps) closer to reducing your risk of obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Get Off Your Butt
A hundred years ago, people spent much less time sitting. Today, much of our days are filled with time spent on our butt—working, commuting, watching television, playing video games, going to the movies or eating out with friends. Being sedentary eventually takes it toll. Some studies have shown that, even for people who work out, sitting during your leisure time still increases your risk of death from chronic diseases like heart disease and obesity.
Sleep On It
When it comes to healthy living, people often ignore sleep. For many of us, we feel better when we are “doing” something to change our life. Unlike dieting or working out, sleep is passive. Getting enough sleep, though, is essential for maintaining your health. Sleep deprivation has been linked to many conditions, including depression and obesity. What’s enough sleep? The National Sleep Foundation says there’s no “magic number,” but recommends seven to nine hours a night for most adults.
Deal With Your Emotions
Your emotions are deeply tied to many aspects of your life, especially when it comes to stress. The patterns that you have for dealing with difficult situations in life—such as eating junk food, smoking, or watching television—can make it harder for you to develop healthy habits. If you don’t deal with the emotions that drive you to do things like eat a whole box of donuts, then you will hit a wall every time you try to improve your diet, stick to your walking schedule, or stop watching television late at night.