I spent this past week researching healthcare reform for employees at my work and I realized just how confusing it it. Then I started to think that we spend so much time, money, and effort on coming up with ways to fix what’s already wrong, instead of putting our energy into taking care of ourselves properly in the first place.
We are not actually in the business of “healthcare” we are in the business of “sickcare!”
It’s time to take back control of our own health. So below, are a few simple steps you can take for your own personal healthcare reform.
And, until next time, veg in, don’t veg out!
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Adding more vegetables to your diet is the single best thing you can do for your health! Don’t want to spend a small fortune on the fresh stuff? Frozen and canned are fine. If buying canned, try to buy low sodium versions, or, rinse your canned veggies to wash away some of the added sodium.
2. Stop eating processed foods. Stop eating foods with ingredients i.e. chemicals that you can’t pronounce. If you must eat packaged foods, stick to foods that have 5 ingredients or less, and always try to buy products with ingredients that you can identify. Remember, if you can’t identify it, your digestive system can’t either!
3. Please step away from the sugar! Americans are eating 200% more sugar today than they did even 50 years ago. Sugar is in everything! Manufacturers sneak it into the most unlikely products, like salad dressing and bread, so we eat more than we think we do, in addition to the white refined sugar that we use in our coffee and tea. Craving something sweet? Try natural sweeteners like agave and honey, but cut back on that too! Everything in moderation, and that includes the healthy stuff.
4. Watch your portion sizes. Even the healthiest foods have calories, so watch your portion sizing. An serving of cheese is about the size of your thumb, a serving of protein, the palm of your hand or roughly the size of a deck of playing cards. A serving size of pasta is just one cup, or about the size of a tennis ball. Still hungry after you meal? Finish with a salad to curb your appetite and sneak in another serving or two of vegetables.
5. Get enough rest. Americans are sleep-deprived. See those zombies walking around every day? No, it’s not a new episode of the Walking Dead, it’s millions of people who aren’t getting enough rest. Aim to get 8 hours of sleep a night. Have trouble sleeping? Power down electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Establish a bedtime routine each night (that will signal your body that it’s time to go to sleep) and go to sleep and wake the same time each night/morning.
6. Watch your negative self-talk. Studies have shown that your physical body reacts to everything it sees and hears, and that includes self-talk. When you constantly fill your head with negative thoughts and negative talk (especially negative self-talk) your body responds in the way of body aches, decreased immunity = think more colds and flu, and digestive issues. Get into the habit of speaking as kindly about yourself as you would about others. The conversation you have about yourself is the single most important conversation you will ever have.
7. Move your butt…and take the rest of your body with you! Regular exercise cannot be promoted enough! Get out and walk, go for a run if that’s your thing, try yoga, or martial arts, ride a bike. Whatever you decide, just find something you like and get out and do it. As the winter months approach, people’s exercise routines tend to drop off dramatically. Try yoga at home, pop in an exercise DVD that you enjoy, go to the mall and walk on a rainy day. Just find an activity and aim to engage in it at least 30 minutes, 3 times each week.
8. Keep stress in check. I know this is easier said than done, but stress can do a number on you both physically, and mentally. When faced with a stressful situation, remember to breathe, if you can, step away from the situation; take a walk or find a quiet place to sit for a few minutes. Drink a glass of water, get outside and get some fresh air. Avoid common behaviors like reaching for a cigarette or eating a pint of ice cream, which will only make things worse. If you’re faced with a long-term stressful situation, like a family member’s illness or a stressful situation at work from which you can’t escape, be sure to take extra care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for someone to talk to if you need it.
9. Curb your caffeine intake. I used to be addicted to coffee. ADDICTED! I never thought I could give it up, but one day, I did. I went cold turkey and kicked the java habit! The first few days were rough, I’m not going to lie, but once I get the caffeine out of my system, I felt so much better. Caffeine is a stimulant; it’s also a diuretic. Caffeine can make you jittery, knock your nervous system out of whack, and cause you to become dehydrated. Looking for a natural boost? Try maca powder in your smoothie or a little on your morning oatmeal. It’s a natural powerhouse that will give you a boost of energy. Bananas are another great source of natural energy, and they’re loaded with potassium too! And if you aren’t eating enough good, healthy foods to get you all the natural energy you need, consider taking a vitamin supplement to boost energy levels.
10. Cut yourself a break. No one is perfect, and most people I know can find a million things they dislike about themselves. But how about finding the things that you do like! Maybe your house doesn’t look like it’s being featured in Better Homes and Gardens, maybe you don’t decorate like Martha Stewart, cook like a five-star chef, maybe you aren’t built like a Victoria’s Secret model, or you kids don’t look like they’ve stepped out of a Gap commercial. You know what? IT’S OKAY! Stop being so hard on yourself and start recognizing the good in who you are and what you do. Feeling good about yourself is the holy grail of feeling good and feeling healthy!