It’s mindboggling that, in the personal development niche, we hardly ever find ourselves talking about health.
Health is, really, the ultimate personal development topic. It’s the foundation for everything that you do and how you feel. So why don’t we concentrate on it more?
I don’t know. Probably because no one is qualified (I don’t know of any PD blogger who has an MD), and, really, health is a pretty easy thing to ignore. Most people hardly ever do things to change their lifestyle, especially when it revolves around health. Point is: for the majority of people, they either have healthy habits or unhealthy habits.
Before I give a few practical tips on how you can improve your health immediately, let’s set the record straight about your health.
Your health defines how well you want to live your life – before any change in mindset and psychology that you can do using the other information on this website.
As I said before, it is the foundation for how you feel at any given moment. Not eating a healthy, balanced diet will hurt your mood, your physical abilities, and your physique. Conversely, if you eat correctly and treat your body with respect, you’ll feel pretty good, nearly all the time (unless you’re tired). Take care of your health above anything else, or else you’ll suffer the consequences. Having good genes certainly does help, but you can be reasonably healthy, no matter what hand you’ve been dealt (unless you have some awful genetically-inherited disease, in which case, I am really, really, really sorry for you and wish you all the best in life; I don’t know how I’d be able to live with that).
Bottom line: treat your body with respect. Many of the readers of this blog are pretty young, and to you, I say this: don’t make your body take too much stress at this stage of your life. You may think you’re invincible now, but, as you age, your body will show you just how well you’ve been treating it. Just because you can get away with bad eating habits now doesn’t mean you should. You may regret it later in life.
I know a few people who treated their bodies right when they were young and now they look like they’re in their mid-thirties when they’re actually in their mid-forties. I’ve seen these things with my own eyes – and it sold me on the idea of being healthy from cradle to grave.
3 Ways to Improve Your Health Today
I’ll stop preaching now, and give you the top 3 things you can do to improve your health right now (as in, they don’t require weeks and weeks of dieting):
1. Drink nothing but water (and milk/milk alternatives, for the calcium): This one will be fairly controversial, but I stand by it. The only exception I’ll allow are green teas, since their caffeine levels are fairly low and their antioxidant levels are high. Anyway, you want to shoot for at least 3.5 liters of water per day (that’s 7 of your average plastic water bottles), and enough of milk or “milk”, like soy or almond milk, to reach your 100% RDA in calcium. I’ll cover your objections below:
- Coffee: I’m not opposed to someone drinking a cup of coffee here and there. What I am opposed to, however, is relying on coffee for that morning ‘pick-me-up’ that you need to function. That’s what’s called a caffeine addiction. And addictions are no good. We all know more than a few people who are addicted to coffee and need it more than anything in the world. Don’t be like them. Please. Don’t shortchange your life just because of an addiction to a drug. If you need a good, clean, morning pick-me-up, drink 20 ounces of water as soon as you wake up. Works as well as coffee without the crash, or exorbitant amounts of cream or sugar.
- Alcohol: Yet another controversial one. If you’re a moderate drinker, you can get away with a couple of beers here and there without killing your body. But, to perform at your peak, I recommend not drinking at all. Alcohol’s a toxin – while your liver can filter it out, even small amounts of alcohol can damage your body over a long period of time – and, as always, I’ll recommend staying away from it. Many people drink to lose their social inhibition, but the truth is, you can lose your inhibition without alcohol too. If your friends try to pressure you into drinking when you’re out, then you need new friends. I’d recommend trying to go out sober for about a month to a month-and-a-half, just to see what happens. If you need a bit of booze to loosen up, do so after that, but at least experiment for me.
- Juices/Smoothies: Juices are no good because they have a lot of sugar and no fiber to regulate how your body absorbs it. This results in giant insulin spikes/crashes, which you have to be aware of even if you’re not a diabetic. Smoothies are okay, especially if you make them yourself, since the fruits’ fiber will be retained. Rule of thumb for smoothies: blender = good, juicer = bad. (The juicer doesn’t retain the fiber from the fruit)
- Soda/Sports Drinks: Do I even need to talk about these? Tons of processed sugar, no nutritional value. Consume sports drinks only while you’re working out. Otherwise, nix them.
2. Establish a good sleep cycle: This requires a lot of trial and error. What you want to do is establish a consistent schedule so your body gets the maximum amount of restorative sleep per night. The catch is this: some people need more sleep than others, and do better if they sleep at different times (or their schedules demand that they sleep at different times). Some people function fine on 5 hours’ sleep, others do better with 10. During the school year, I typically go to bed around 10:00 and wake up at 5:30, which is 7 and a half hours of sleep. It’s all about finding the schedule that works for you. If you’re a night owl, go to bed late, wake up when you have to, and try to catch a nap midday. If you’re a morning person, something like my sleep schedule would probably work for you. Just experiment with different things to see which one you (and your body!) like best.
Once you find a cycle you like, though, be sure to stick with it!
3. Eat green stuff: I’m talking about leafy greens, here, like lettuce and spinach. Eat more of them – try to have a bowl of salad containing them at least once a day. You can eat them raw, if you so choose, as well. Baby spinach is my personal favorite, though buying spring mixes and the like works just fine too. I don’t know what it is about greens, but they just make me feel good (doing my own research, chlorophyll from the greens may be responsible for this). After eating greens, my body feels more relaxed, I get this nice “healthy” feeling running through my body, and I look better as well. That’s reason enough to start eating them as much as you can; I know that the effects of eating greens are not a placebo effect! Others have claimed the same effects from adding a lot of greens to their diets.
Also: if you do buy your own greens, please buy organic! They’ll be more fresh, tastier, and better for you and the environment!
What other tips do you have to immediately improve your health and wellness?