GETTING INTO SHAPE and staying healthy has suddenly taken an elitist position. Only the well-educated, financially stable and motivated individuals can make it. Right?
Photos of celebrities, fitness models and health gurus posting images of themselves working out, posing in revealing outfits and cooking "all-organic new-fad foods" are everywhere, seemingly defining what is healthy.
But when it comes to reality it's what's on the inside that counts and any effort to improve what is healthy for YOU, inside and out, is a worthwhile investment. As I like to tell my clients:
"Health is not about having a six-pack or eating paleo or living without disease. Health is living optimally given your situation, genetics, living conditions and financial state." - Dr. Alison Chen, ND
Finding the motivation to go to the gym, make home-cooked meals everyday and maintain sanity with work, family and your social life can be difficult.
If you've ever tried to "over-haul" your life in one giant leap it's often very difficult to maintain, if not impossible. There will always be some occasion, family emergency, or important work function that will interrupt your new healthy way of living.
But healthy living is just that -- living with health.
Figuring out a way to live as optimally with whatever life throws at you. With conscious effort and desire everyone can live a healthy life.
This effort and desire can be made a little easier, however, by creating healthy habits that you can easily fit into your day.
I call this the Everyday Healthy Extras: small but instrumental ways to live healthier that doesn't require a major overhaul, but rather baby steps, to a healthier you.
It may seem superficial at first, but after you start implementing these 8 Every Day Healthy Extras, baby steps just might turn into healthy strides.
1. Park in the last spot or take the local transit:Get a few extra steps in your day and avoid the parking lot wars. The stress of driving, being stuck in traffic, and circling the parking for the closest spot is never worth the frustration it causes. Take local transit when possible to reduce traffic, city pollution and save your sanity.
2. Take additional stairs:I have a friend who refuses to take the elevators and escalators. She works a demanding job and walks everywhere as her exercise and stress relief. Walking and taking the stairs can actually be very meditating. Treat it like your private time to think and be with yourself.
3. Take regular water and washroom breaks:Set an hourly timer on your phone or computer and make sure to get up from your desk or chair for at least 5 minutes several times a day. Not only does taking regular breaks help with productivity and concentration, it will keep you in tune with your body. When your timer goes off, think about what your body needs - drink of water, to go pee, to stretch, get some fresh air.
4. Don't sit so much:Try a standing desk or even a treadmill desk. Especially if you work from home or for a company that supports their employee's health, look into sitting less with a mobile ergonomic work station.
5. Practice proper posture while sitting and standing:If you work from a desk or at a computer you may find yourself hunched forward, straining your eyes and extending your neck for hours at a time. Proper ergonomics include a supportive chair with both feet planted on the floor and all angles of the body at 90˚ right angles: elbows, hips, knees, ankles.
The screen, book or object in focus should be slightly lower than eye level to avoid stress on the neck. The ears, shoulders and hips should be in line with one another.
6. Keep healthy snacks at the office and at home to keep your brain sharp:Organic fruits and vegetables loaded with plenty of fiber, sources of lean protein, as well as healthy fats are ideal when it comes to balancing blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling full and ready to tackle any challenge. Here are some excellent choices when you're on the go:
- Home-made guacamole - avocado, onion, garlic, tomato, salt, pepper
- Kale chips - make them at home with some olive oil and salt on each leaf and pop them into the oven at 350˚C for 30 minutes then turn off the oven and let the kale sit for another hour to dry out
- Yogurt - dairy or non-dairy with homemade granola
- Chopped fruits and veggies with hummus - Veggies, veggies, veggies. NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEM
- Flavored water - ie. water with berries, lemon, cucumber, lime, mint, grapefruit
- Protein shake - with pre-made frozen baggies (spinach, frozen blueberries, bananas, green's powder, protein powder, flax seeds) with fish oil, water and almond milk. Read about my favorite smoothies.
7. Deskercise:Work and family constraints might make it near impossible for you to get to the gym but this does not mean you need to leave your fitness goals by the wayside. Deskercise is one way you can incorporate physical activity into your already busy schedule.
All you need is a desk, a chair and a wall and you're ready to hit your own office gym. Increase the difficulty of your workout by incorporating resistance bands. Check out my instructional video for some great deskercise tips.
8. Home and Outdoor Workouts:Home workouts are ideal for many busy and traveling people. The hard part with self-regulated workouts is staying motivated and committed, so I recommend that you call up a friend or partner to help keep you motivated and on track. Or make a routine out of doing your workout at the same time every day and allow for few exceptions.
Even if you're tired, have other plans or are traveling, do something. Start with 10 minutes a day and slowly increase the intensity and duration. Try out this free sample workout, videos and a fitness tracker with a free e-course.
An online personal trainer is a great option for those working out at home or outside, as they are more experienced giving effective exercises for your personal goals with the equipment at your disposal.
Looking and feeling good is not just for those with limitless pocketbooks and time.
Anyone can get healthy by making the commitment to incorporating the Everyday Healthy Extras into their routines.
Our health goals can seem daunting if for us being healthy involves a set of unrealistic ideals that can only be achieved by a select few. Your health, by definition, is about you, no matter your particular circumstances. Taking the small steps to incorporate healthier living into you life may be just what you need to accomplish your health goals.
After all, it's the little things that count.
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