I know the road to a healthier you isn’t always easy, nor fun, for that matter. You’ll have to make sacrifices at times. But put it this way: people don’t always worry about their health until an illness enters the picture.
Therefore, it pays to take better care of yourself, as it will help you avoid most aliments and diseases. Plus, you’ll feel and look marvelous when adhering to a healthier lifestyle.
With that being said, I have come up with a list of ways to help you be a healthier you:
1. Never shop when you’re famished
Eating healthier always starts with what is available and convenient to you. So never shop for grub when you’re hungry. It will undoubtedly lead to you buying unhealthy food.
2. Eat clean as much as possible
That means embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats (avocados and fish oils). It also means cutting back on refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats (trans).
3. Prepare healthier foods at home
Making food at home to take with you while working and out and about will help you control your intake, for the most part, of fat, sugar, salt, and other undesirable elements.
4. Eat smaller, more frequent meals
This will help you keep your metabolism running more efficiently, as your body burns calories in the process of chewing and digesting. Plus, it helps to keep your blood glucose levels stabilized, avoiding the pitfalls of insulin spikes and crashes associated with big meals, which may lead you to eat more later on during the day.
5. Walk more
Instead of taking an elevator or escalator, take the stairs as often as possible, and park your car a few blocks away from your destination. The amount of distance you cover daily will add up to burning more calories.
It may not seem like a lot at first, but add that over time, and it can help you take off, or keep off, those dreading five pounds that have been daunting you for so long. I recommend purchasing a digital pedometer that you can use in conjunction with a smart phone to help track your distance and progress.
6. But don’t be afraid of cardio.
While daily walks will help your overall health, there’s nothing better than engaging in some form of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week. This means activities such as running, biking, and elliptical machine training.
Aerobic exercise is important in the prevention of heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, respectively. To improve overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). 30 minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience cardio benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.
Just remember to get your heart rate up there, and reach your target range. This is how you calculate your target HR:
- When you wake up in the morning, Take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, on the thumb side.
- Use the tips of your first two fingers (not your thumb) to press lightly over the blood vessels on your wrist.
- Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by six to find your beats per minute. You want to stay between 50 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This range is your target heart rate.
Note: The table below will help you figure out how hard you need to be training in order to reach your intended goal (Source: American Heart Association).
Age: 20 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 100-170 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 200 beats per minute
Age: 30 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 95-162 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 190 beats per minute
Age: 35 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 93-157 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 185 beats per minute
Age: 40 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 90-153 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 180 beats per minute
Age: 45 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 88-149 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 175 beats per minute
Age: 50 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 85-145 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 170 beats per minute
Age: 55 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 83-140 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 165 beats per minute
Age: 60 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 80-136 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 160 beats per minute
Age: 65 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 78-132 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 155 beats per minute
Age: 70 years
Target HR Zone 50-85%: 75-128 beats per minute
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%: 150 beats per minute
7. Include foods high in calcium
Broccoli, almonds, sardines with bones, leafy greens, bok choy, fortified tofu and okra are all good sources of calcium. This may help you build more bone mass, and possibly defend against osteoporosis—a condition of fragile bones with an increased susceptibility to fracture.
8. Take a calcium supplement
Though consuming foods high in calcium is important, you may not be getting enough of the recommended daily allowance because of absorption problems and not enough available calcium-rich foods at your disposal.
The National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Osteoporosis offers up the follow guidelines to help ensure you meet your requirements of this bone-building mineral.
- 800 mg/day for children 1-10 years of age
- 1,000 mg/day for men, premenopausal women, and postmenopausal women also taking estrogen.
- 1,200 mg/day for teenagers and young adults 11-24 years of age.
- 1,500 mg/day for postmenopausal women not taking estrogen.
- 1,200 mg-1,500 mg/day for pregnant and nursing mothers.
- The total daily intake of calcium should not exceed 2,000 mg.
- Also take vitamin D and magnesium (I recommend both in a 2:1 ration with calcium for proper metabolism), nutrients known to help the absorption of calcium.
9. Include weight bearing exercise such as running and weight lifting
Many health and medical practitioners recommend load-bearing exercises, especially ones for the lower body such as the lunge and squats, as ways to build stronger bones by stimulating cells responsible for the synthesis and mineralization of bone (osteoblasts).
10. Eat less red meat
Multiple studies suggest that it reduces your risk of certain forms of cancers such colorectal, decreases weight gain and heart disease, among other chronic conditions.
So, now that in you’re the know, you should be on the road to a better, healthier you in no time. Good luck, ladies!
Jerry Del Priore