If you want to change your health but hate the idea of the gym, a diet or have no idea where to start your journey, I've got some ideas for you.
Money and death -- I'm hoping those two motivators are strong enough to get people to read this blog right to the end.
We turn to experts in fat reduction more often than we do experts in food and food science.
Lifestyle-related disease costs our health-care system billions of dollars. Preventable disease is on the rise and it takes a lot of lives, far too young. Science has the solution and has had it for decades -- the problem is scientists are not marketers.
You can be healthy without the gym, without a new diet and without changing around your whole life. We have confused sex appeal and six packs with preventing diseases that will kill us.
Here is what happened over the past few decades, and what needs to change:
1. We have become sedentary.
Work and life revolve around sitting. Our entertainment is the TV and handheld devices. Our work is automated or office-related, and doesn't need us to use our bodies to move. Our metabolisms slow, and our drive for adventure lessen.
2. Food has become what makes us fat or skinny.
Now when "experts" talk about food, cleanses or diets, it revolves around "the science of getting skinny" versus "the science of being healthy." We turn to experts in fat reduction more often than we do experts in food and food science.
3. Appearance drives most of our decisions.
It also drives a lot of our emotions. We associate happiness with the appearance of our body.
4. Fitness has become something a large portion of the population hates and avoids.
We made it about gyms, time demands and forced activities. The science of what the body needs has been replaced by what the body needs to be lean and beach-ready.
Our society needs to use food as fuel and a way to protect your body from disease (a registered dietitian can help), and use exercise as a way to make memories and uplift your spirit.
Eat two pieces of pizza and go on a hike. You might not get a six pack, but you'll be healthy and happy. If you struggle with your weight or if you are stuck in a routine that has you emotionally drained, understand you are not alone. Also understand that an entire industry has been created to sell you products, diets and fad workouts that you just don't need and, usually, don't work.
Look at your day in three eight-hour segments. Take care of your health easily by caring for each segment.
1. Sleep time: you need between 6-8 hours of sleep.
Find a routine that is 30 to 60 minutes long that gets you ready for bed. Unwind with a stretch, a conversation or a cup of tea. Anything that helps prepare your mind for bed time. Find a way to calm your mind and enjoy this part of your day.
2. Work day: Sitting at work has been dubbed the new smoking.
You can't be productive and move up the corporate ladder if you are unhealthy and low-energy. Move more at work, care for yourself, then improve your performance. Simple things make big differences. ParticipACTION is launching a brand new program to help us all live healthy and active at work. It contains simple ideas that I'm hoping all companies across Canada adopt. The simple programming utilizes the latest research to encourage employees to be healthy at work.
3. Free time: When the work day is done and you head home, take a minute to relax.
Look at your schedule and if you have your evenings scheduled to the minute with kids and family commitments, take a step back. We schedule ourselves so tightly in life that we have lost sight of why we do the things we do. If your health is suffering because of time commitments, look to change things. If your kids are in swimming, soccer, baseball, band practice, etc. and you spend your entire life keeping them busy, ask yourself why? Is there a way to do a few of those activities and blend them with family fun and fitness?
The healthiest families I know play together and eat together and don't have every moment jam packed with scheduled activities. Find balance, and slow life down a little. It's OK to not be scheduled up every night of the week. It is definitely OK to say "What should we do tonight?" and have the answer be nothing but a walk.
Reset your perspective on health and we can be the healthiest nation in the world.
Look for the message of real food in proper portions, getting exercise for the sake of movement and making memories, and finding happiness in health, then listen and engage. It is my dream that we will see obesity reduced in this nation, preventable diseases won't be our number one concern, and exercise will be part of our daily lives.
I've also started a movement in my hometown of Winnipeg called "OneFitCity." It's my dream to connect people with health experts and make information available to workplaces for free.
Every Canadian city has literally thousands of experts who aren't on TV or don't write for national publications, but simply do good work helping people. Those are the people to connect with. Learn to cook real food, move and explore your province, reset your perspective on health and we can be the healthiest nation in the world, one fit city at a time.
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