As we look back, our ancestors never worried about their thyroid, gut, heart disease, cancer or any of the issues that are top of mind today. So why are they popping up everywhere? It all comes down to they simply ate real food. Seasonal fruits & vegetables, grains, eggs and dairy. They avoided fake foods, such as crackers, cookies and frosted cereals.
In reality, half of Americans are over indulging and the other half are on a diet. So, why are we not taking care of ourselves? Why are we overweight, ill and struggling every day? The news changes our health regimen daily. One day, we’re told to cut out carbohydrates, then the next, cut out fat or reduce the amount of daily protein. I can see why, as a society, we are confused and just let go. Our lives are busy and the average consumer doesn’t have time to research what’s good and bad for them. Looking back, our ancestors got their nutrition through killing large mammals and picking fruits and nuts. Studies have shown that our body is better acquainted with consuming meat and natural sugars and has a hard time digesting fiber. Therefore, not obtaining the protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber or any other nutrients that we need to maintain our bodies at optimal levels.
We are no longer growing our own food, but obtaining our meals through the drive-thru because of convenience and time. Let’s put it this way: our bodies can’t breakdown large amounts of vegetable oil and our bodies were not meant to sit all day. I remember growing up thinking, “when do we actually get a break?” When you live a life of a farmer, there is no downtime. It seemed from the moment I got off the bus until it was time to go to bed, I was on my feet. We didn’t have computer games, smart phones and only had a couple channels to watch on TV — which seemed like all there was to watch was news or cooking shows!
So, what is the root of such a growing concern? It’s simply poor lifestyle choices…. We overindulge, choose the wrong foods, we’re less active, and let stress and anxiety take over our lives. What can we do today to take action on our health?
Tips to Maintain a Simple Healthy Action Plan
ABM – Always be moving. Keep physically active, whether it’s getting away from the office chair for a walk downstairs or going outside during lunch to gain some much needed sunlight. Just doing stretches can get the blood flowing and revive that inner energy to regain focus. Strive for 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 days a week. Find an exercise you enjoy so you’ll maintain a regimen
Get cooking. Be creative in the kitchen and make your own meals at home. This way you incorporate the ingredients and you stay healthier. Plus it’s fun, gets you on your feet and a great family activity.
Choosing the right foods. Always shop around the outside perimeter of the store, as this is where you’ll find the wholesome goodness of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and unprocessed, preservative-free foods. Keep in mind that dietary guidelines have changed to where half our plate should be filled with fruit and vegetables. Plus, you never have a label to investigate prior to purchasing as there is only one ingredient. Keep in mind, to benefit from satiety, wait 20 minutes after your meal to cue into your hunger levels.
All in moderation. Keep a balance in your daily regimen. There will be days when life happens and you can’t maintain the My Plate routine along with the daily exercise plan. That’s OK. Keep yourself in check knowing you’ll get back on the wagon tomorrow. Life is all about things coming at you when you least expect it. That’s why you have a backup plan to slide the goal to the next day and never overwhelm yourself with anything, especially something that is out of your hands. This will, in turn, help alleviate the stress and anxiety that you get if you’re a perfectionist. I’m one to always have everything in check, but I’m realistic and know there will be surprises, so let yourself go if everything doesn’t fall into place.
Live a simple life. Sometimes going off the grid isn’t a bad thing. One thing I’ve learned is to not let social media rule our lives. It can consume our time, lead to insecurity, stress and anxiety. Limit your time on electronics and spend quality time with family and friends. Take time to eat at the dinner table while discussing how the day went or what’s new in your lives. It seems we get so wrapped up in what others are doing, thinking, feeling and finding out what’s going on with our family and friends through a Facebook post. Remember, you’re not living their life and they aren’t living yours, so take care of yourself first! Otherwise, you can’t be there to help others.
Meditation. It may seem silly at first, or make you feel out of place, but studies have proven the effectiveness of certain breathing methods and poses that will relax you and alleviate some of that stress from your day. Try sitting by yourself for 10 minutes and just take a breath in. Breathe through your nose to let go of all the chaos that may have happened throughout the day. You can also incorporate yoga, which aids in the meditation process.
Let’s not forget sleep! Strive for 6-8 hours. Remember, your body is like a machine, you need to keep it oiled and in tip-top shape for it to run at it’s best. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re causing oxidative damage, which causes your cells and DNA to build up, reducing our longevity.
Laugh. Amazingly enough. if you laugh for 10-15 minutes per day, you can burn up to 40 calories! So why aren’t you laughing?! It helps release endorphins to help you feel relaxed. Spend time with family and friends to gain the much needed benefit of humor and in-person social interaction.
In summary, living longer depends on how we react, what we choose to do, and how we live. Revive yourself from the inside with wiser food choices, letting go of the things beyond your control, and finding ways to alleviate stress in our lives. All you have to do is remind yourself of the simple life that our grandparents lived and how much of a difference it made in longevity and happiness.
As always consult your health professional. I hope this article finds you in good health.
Connie Stoltz-McDonald is an Integrative Nutrition-Certified Health Coach, CPT, Wellness Educator, Blogger and Author. From her passion for writing, she is excited to announce her first book release titled “Healthy Lifestyle- The inside secrets to transforming your body and health.” If you’d like to get a copy, you can connect with her at her website, www.lifestylehealthmentor.com, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.