Healthy Living

HEALTHY LIVING IS MORE THAN JUST EATING RIGHT!

This site is dedicated to healthy living and imparting the wisdom of how to be as healthy as possible to you.  For most folks, being healthy might mean feeling “good,” eating organic, or going to the gym every day.  Those are all great things, but those alone don’t make you any healthier than only one ingredient makes cookies.  There is more to health than just eating right, or even exercising.  Those are great things, but only by applying all aspects of a healthy lifestyle can you attain maximum physical health.

There are in fact 4 aspects to living a healthy lifestyle.  Each is discussed here in detail so that you can implement them into your life.  So whether you already think you’re healthy, or you’re a fat slob that needs to get off the couch and change your life, if you follow the advice that you find here, you WILL be a healthier person and eventually attain your optimal health.

1) Diet

I’m sure you’ve heard the old phrase, “you are what you eat.”  It’s very true.  So if you learn to eat healthy, then you will be healthy, pretty easy, right?  Of course not!  Without the proper knowledge, your diet might look like a teenager learning to drive without ever having a lesson…CRASH!  That crash might come at 35, 45, or even 55.  If you ask me, I’d rather “crash” at 95 when my car is just too old to work anymore, NOT because the driver was naieve.

Your body will eventually wear out someday, but you can help make that date farther into the future partly through diet.  To function at its best and last the longest, your body needs energy, building blocks, and other protective molecules.

Energy- This can come in the form of protein or fat, but carbs the most common source of energy.  If you are fat, this group is one to minimize, thus forcing the body to use fat for energy.  However, if you are a healthy weight and workout hard, you want plenty of carbs, especially complex carbs (not so much sugar).

Building Blocks- The building blocks of cells come in largely the form of protein.  Although animal protein is not the only source, it is the best.  Lean meats are always preferable, but don’t worry about the myths that protein is hard on the body…its just not true.  In fact, protein makes up 90% of your dry (without water) weight.  Almost all plant sources are “incomplete” meaning they are missing at least one of the essential ingredients of human protein.  Keeping it moderate is important, but you are protein, so make sure you get enough, especially if you exercise much, the protein helps you recover and repair.

Protective Molecules– Mostly this is a reference to antioxidants.  These are abundant in fruits and vegetables and help us by neutralizing free radicals, the figurative garbage of our cells that otherwise might cause damage.  Both are also a source of some to lots of fiber, an important ingredient in proper digestion.  So eat lots of fruits and vegetables, no matter who you are or what your goals, unless of course you want to die at an early age!

2)Exercise

Exercise is clearly a very important part of how to be a healthy person.  We hear it all the time, but most of us pay little attention to it.  Some of you may be “in good shape” already.  By saying that you mean you can fit into the clothes you look good in, you are relatively thin, and you by and large (whether on a diet of some kind or not) look and feel pretty good.  Well, you need exercise just as much as the fat person (who could certainly benefit) because “looking” and “feeling” good does not make you healthy and certainly does not mean you look and feel as good as you could.  “Feeling good” is relative.  “Good” can simply mean better than another time or no worse than normal.  I hate to say it, but no matter how good you think you feel, exercise will improve how you feel overall.

Exercise has nothing but positive effects

1. Increased metabolism -burn more calories doing nothing

2. Stronger immune system-decrease chances of illness, disease, and cancer

3. Increased energy- you simply have more energy because life is less tiring

4. Increased strength- need I say more?

5. Greater endurance- you tire less easily

6. Reduced stress- who doesn’t need that?

7. Stronger heart- your heart becomes much more efficient

8. More efficient circulation- your blood gets around your body much more easily

9.  Makes pregnancy and childbirth easier and quickens recovery.

10. Improves sexual performance.

The list could go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that with regular exercise, you will feel better and live longer because your body just works better.

Two types of exercise

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of exercise, let’s distinguish between the two major categories:

1) Cardiovascular exercise-giving your heart a workout

2) Strength training- giving your muscles a workout

Cardiovascular (or cardio) exercise specifically strengthens the heart and improves circulation. It consists of sustained motion over time such as running, aerobics, or playing basketball.  Strength training is specifically designed to strengthen the muscles that we use to move around and lift things.  These are usually sporadic exercises (not continuous) such as weight-lifting or sprinting.  There is no such thing as an exercise that is exclusively cardio or strength training, but nearly every exercise favors one or the other.  Being as healthy as possible requires doing both.

3)Hydration

The most important nutrient in the human body is water.  It is difficult to define
an “importance scale” for the nutrients your body needs, but water is the most abundant.     Water takes part in virtually every chemical reaction in the body and therefore affects the body more dramatically than any other nutrient.  In fact, the human body is composed of 60-70% water.  What does that mean for you?  Drink LOTS of water.  If you want to know how to be a healthy person, then water must necessarily be part of your prescription.

The body is constantly using water in various ways such as perspiration, lubrication, and an assortment of essential chemical reactions, even when our activity level is minimal.  Consequently, replacing water in your body is a never-ending task.  You should drink water throughout the day and drink plenty during exercise.  There is no magic quantity of how much to drink each day, but drinking frequently is just as important as how much you drink.  Thirty-two ounces of water twice a day is much less effective than 8 ounces 8 times per day.  Just as you eat several times daily, you should also drink several times daily.  The reason for this is that when you drink some water, the body uses what it needs and the rest is dumped out into your urine.  So if you drink a lot all at once, within a few hours little of the water you drank is still in your system (except your bladder).  However, if you drink frequently, you are constantly giving your body water to use, which helps you to be a healthy person, not one whose chemical reactions are stifled.

4)Sleep 

It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of sleep.  Like water, most of us don’t get enough of it.  And perhaps fewer of us pay attention to the effects it has on our bodies.  That’s often because a lot of us get used to not having the amount of sleep we actually need.  Studies have even shown that sleep deprivation is equivalent to intoxication!  So, you want know how to be a healthy person (aside from diet, exercise, and hydration of course)?  Get enough sleep EVERY NIGHT!

We have all experienced times of little or no sleep.  Maybe an “all-nighter” finishing homework, traveling to another time zone, or just goofing around all night is your choice method for sleep deprivation.  The next day is usually just miserable.   You are just sooo tired.  It is difficult to think, respond quickly, and even stay awake.  Hmmm…kind of like being drunk???

Consistency

Now imagine that you get just a little less sleep than your body needs night after night.  The effects are so small that you don’t really notice it compounding day after day.  So what’s the difference between having one “all-nighter” and not getting enough sleep (even small amounts) over a long period of time?  The answer: it may be worse to get a little less over time than have one “all-nighter” now and again.  The reason is simple.  If you are sleep deprived say 30 minutes a night for a month, you have “lost” 15 hours of sleep over the course of the month.  On the other hand, if you have one or two bad nights with a 4 hour deficiency, you’re only 8 hours “deficient.”

Now I did not say that it is better to have an all-nighter than to lose a little sleep every night.  There is no real correlation.  But I wanted to drive home the idea of consistency.  That’s what makes a good sleep pattern.  You need to get enough sleep every night, not some nights.  We all know this isn’t always possible, but you should be as consistent as you can.

Many people (including me) want to believe they can sleep in to make up for lost sleep.  While this is not entirely false, let’s illustrate with an example why it is deceiving.  Assume 8 hours is the prime amount of time for sleep.  You sleep for 3 hours one night and 13 hours the next.  First of all it is doubtful you could sleep for 13 hours under less than very extreme circumstances.  But even if you did, would that be the same as two eight hour nights?  Try it another way.  Let’s say you ate 1 meal in a day and 5 meals the next.  Is that the same as 3 meals a day for 2 days?  Certainly this is not the case; I hope you see the point.

Duration

The other “biggie” that goes hand-in-hand with consistency is duration, or how long you sleep.  Some people only sleep 4 hours a night and that is enough for them.  Others need 7 or 8.  Most of us can tell about what works for us since we have slept so many times.  Figure out what seems the best for you and strive to get that amount every night.

For instance, if I’m an 8 hour guy (most people are), and I need to be up at 7 a.m., then I need to go to bed at about 10 or 10:30 every night.  Don’t forget to account for time to fall asleep too (that’s why I would go to bedbefore 11:00).  If you go to bed at 11, but don’t fall asleep until 11:40, 7 a.m. comes in less than 8 hours.

Napping

What happens if you have a bad night?  Maybe you got to bed late, couldn’t get to sleep, or couldn’t stay asleep.  Whatever the reason, napping is something to be avoided.  The more you nap the more it becomes a part of your routine and your body begins to expect it.

It will also throw off your consistency and duration.  If you just can’t stand it, set an alarm and take a 10-15 min. nap.  The best thing to do is just stay awake until your appointed bedtime.  It is also OK to go to bed a little early too.  The bottom line is, be cautious with napping because it can throw a kink into your sleeping patterns.

P.S If you can not beat insomnia, you can ask your doctor to prescribe you Ambien. Here is an excellent resource where you can find useful information about how Ambien helps cope with insomnia and it’s easy to buy Ambien online.