It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
Without our health, all aspects of our life suffer. If you take care of yourself, you will have the means to take care of everyone else. Poor health can have a negative effect on our mental state, our jobs, and our relationships with those we care about. I truly believe that good health is wealth. What good is money if we aren’t healthy enough to use it? As of today, 54% of the adult Canadian population is overweight or obese, and 17% have high blood pressure. In the age of technology we have access to more information on health than we have ever had before, but the average health of our population is declining. There are multiple reasons why this may be happening and thousands of article have been written on it. I do want to get into some of the factors influencing our health in the future, but for today I want to offer you three simple tips for improving your health.
1. Know Your Food
When I say “know your food” what I’m really talking about is knowing where your food comes from. When shopping for groceries try to keep at least 80% of your cart filled with food that you know the origin of. Foods such as vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts and seeds require little to no processing before being sent to the store. When choosing your grain products, try to pick the packages that have the least amount of ingredients listed on them. This is usually a sign that less has been done to put the product together. Whenever possible choose whole grain, as it is less processed and gives the body some much needed fibre. Remember, the more natural the food source, the more useful it is to the body.
2. Do something active EVERY day
This used to be a part of daily life, but advancements in technology have created many jobs that require less physical labour. Today, most jobs require 6-8 hours of sitting. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the human body and see that it was carefully designed for movement! We were created to be active! When choosing an activity, choose one that gets your heart rate up and your body sweating. If neither of these two things are happening, then your body is going to get used to the activity very quickly, and will not make positive adaptations to the positive stress you are placing it under. If your body doesn’t have to make adaptations that means it isn’t going to make as many improvements. Variety is the key to success, so try to cycle through different activities as much as possible. CrossFit is a great example of variety, as the workout is different every day causing the body to have to respond to every single workout. Starting with 20 minutes of activity a day, and working your way up will make a noticeable impact on your health. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to a personal trainer about your current level of health and future goals, as they can help you pick a safe and fun activity.
3. Get Enough Sleep
The average person needs 6-8 hours of sleep every night. If we were honest with ourselves, most of us do not get that many hours of uninterrupted sleep. We stay up late watching our favourite show, scrolling through Facebook, or worrying about tomorrow’s tasks. When we sleep it gives our body the chance to repair any damage done throughout the day. When we sleep our brain has time to process anything new we have learned that day and work on committing it to memory. Sleep is also very important for the regulation of our hormones. This will be another whole post in and of itself in the future. One of the hormones that is quite often talked about in relation to weight gain is cortisol. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It tries to create homeostasis in the body in response to the stressor. Many of us, due to poor health and lack of sleep, are in a constant state of stress causing cortisol to be released all the time. High cortisol levels are linked to poor immune function, weight gain, and chronic diseases. Proper sleep can help the body recover from stress and decrease the amount of cortisol needed. If you are having trouble sleeping at night, the two health tips above this one are a great place to start. You could also visit a health care professional, such as a Naturopathic Doctor, for some advice on natural sleep aids.
My hope for 2017 is that you see improved health and, in turn, a positive influence in the other areas of your life. Getting started is quite often the hardest part. If you currently aren’t implementing any of the above 3 tips, start with the first one and spend 4-6 weeks building good habits before moving on to the 2nd! Remember to forgive yourself when you screw up!