Step 8 - Live healthily
I'm sorry folks, I just realised that the link back to the post I'm basing these steps on has somehow gotten messed up during the transition to this new blog. Should be back in working order now though! :-) What constitutes a healthy life? Does living healthily mean you have to give up all the fun? Are you aware of your body's needs?
Scientists have always been telling us what's good for us and what isn't. Admittedly, they've been proven wrong in the past, just think back to the days when smoking was considered unharmful and any type of fat was the slim body's enemy. However, right now they're saying things that seem to be born out of common sense more than having to please any sponsors.
For example, fruit and vegetables are good for you. Yes, the produce gets sprayed with pesticides and maybe those make their way into our bloodstream eventually, but there are more and more organic farms out there who will guarantee natural methods (now you only have to be able to afford it). Also, the daily steak should give way to more seafood in your diet. There is the issue of over-fishing in many seas and mercury levels in tuna that are high enough to discourage pregnant women and kids from eating too much of them, but information on safe amounts is available, e.g. . Other tips for healthy living include eating whole-grain versions instead of white bread, rice and pasta, adding reasonable amounts of healthy vegetable oils to your foods, drinking enough water every day and exercising on a regular basis. Last but not least, regular treats should be worked into the diet lest you feel deprived and devour the whole snacks and chocolate aisle at your local grocery store in a fit of the munchies.
I think we all agree that being overweight has become an important issue in our society. According to this article, it's the number one killer in the US, even though it's clearly preventable. The diet industry is worth I don't know how many billion dollars every year. How many people do you know whose new year's resolution it was to get fitter and lose a few pounds? Were you one of them? How committed are you, really, to making the necessary changes? We've been going on diets for ages, and still we hope for that one pill that'll make it all easier and melt away the pounds while we keep indulging in pizzas, junk food and rich desserts. Spending money on diet aids is a personal choice, but if you read the label, it'll most likely say "if combined with a balanced diet and exercise" or something similar. And you know what? It's probably that same balanced diet and exercise that'll be doing the pound-melting, not the pill.
Of course, being healthy doesn't all come down to your weight. I for one think that mental health is equally important, which is why I try to incorporate periods of study, reflection, meditation and tranquility into my life. Not always possible to do an hour of yoga, of course, but simple breathing exercises and remaining centered in the moment have been very helpful for me in stressful situations. What do you do to avoid emotional break-downs or fights?
At the end of the day, how you live your life is your choice. My two cents are, 1. get yourself informed about what it is you're putting into your bodies, because the effects food has on our systems are quite remarkable. "You are what you eat" has never been more true. There have been studies for awhile that link behavioural and mood issues to diet, especially in tantrum-prone children. Adult diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are other scary consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. Note that I'm in no way advocating we all become Size 4 models, but yes, a healthy life to me is about feeling good, and that usually translates into looking good, too. And 2. find a balance, something that keeps you steady in the madness of it all. Meditation might work for you, or maybe you're more the kick-boxing type. Raised energy levels, higher self-esteem and a more optimistic outlook on life due to natural endorphins can all be results of walking briskly just about 20 minutes a day.
To sum up, there will always be ifs and buts no matter what you choose to eat. There will always be promises of magic cures that you may want to buy into, but you're more likely to achieve actual long-term satisfactory results by following a balanced diet combined with exercise. (Save the money for those pills and buy yourself a new outfit when you've shed the pounds the natural way.) And, there will always be scientists who may tell you something else tomorrow, so one of your best bets is to stay informed about what's going on. Making a change toward a healthy life might just be the most rewarding thing you do today, for yourself and the benefit of your loved ones.