Let’s face it, there is no denying that life today has become busier and more hectic for most if not all of us! Many of us are juggling a multitude of responsibilities as we wear many hats. Our bodies are a lot like machines, if we don’t keep up with the maintenance, our bodies eventually can and will break down. In order to stay healthy, look/feel good and keep up with our stressful and demanding schedules, our bodies require proper nutrition and exercise.
According to The Center For Science In The Public Interest, unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are leading causes of death in the U.S. today. Unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S., due to nutrition and obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. In the last 30 years, obesity rates have doubled in adults, tripled in children, and quadrupled in adolescents.
Shocking statistics like these clearly spell out why it is so important for everyone to make it a priority to find ways to incorporate good nutrition and exercise into our overly scheduled lives if we intend to continue doing everything we are doing at an optimal level, and even more importantly, if we are working on improving our health after an illness or years of poor choices. Proper nutrition is necessary in order for our bodies to perform well both physically and mentally. Good nutrition provides us with the fuel we need to be active, and it gives us the energy and endurance we need to exercise. Proper nutrition also boosts our brain function and improves memory. Regular exercise will burn off excess calories, improve muscle strength, improve endurance and will also help joints to remain more flexible as we age. Exercise strengthens our heart and lungs, reduces blood pressure, strengthens bones, reduces body fat and increases our energy level. Exercise has also proven to have remarkable psychological benefits as well! Physical activity is known to releases chemicals in the brain called Endorphins. Endorphins are known for increasing ones feelings of well-being by helping to reduce stress, feelings of anxiety and feelings of depression. Endorphins also play a role in improving sleep, and helping to boost self-esteem.
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While we may realize the importance of incorporating exercise and healthy meals into our daily routine, many of us struggle finding the time and motivation to do so. Becoming more active doesn’t have to eat up a whole lot of time in your day, and doesn’t always mean hitting the gym. YouTube has numerous video options for all levels and types of workouts ranging from high intensity to yoga, and some workout routines are even as short as eight minutes! One can always work more steps into their day by parking farther away from destinations, taking the dog on a longer walk, and perhaps walking with a friend, coworker or family member while catching up on things. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring and something you dread. If you find an activity that you enjoy doing, the chances are that you will stick with it. With summer here, it is a great time to give Netflix a rest and go for a bike ride, play a sport, go swimming, rollerblading or perhaps work in the garden. All of these activities are great ways to get moving!
We have all heard and know how important following a healthy eating plan is to maintaining good health. A nutritious diet gives us energy and helps improve our brain function. The Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association recommend a diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, grains (mostly whole grains), lean proteins, low fat dairy, nuts, seeds and healthy oils such as olive oil. This recommendation is very similar to The Mediterranean Diet, which has been referred to by many as the Gold Standard of all healthy diets. For more information on the Mediterranean Diet, visit: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801.
Eating healthier can sometimes mean more time out of your day dedicated to planning and preparing meals, so here are some time saving tips:
Make a salad at the salad bar and while you are there, pick up extra cut up veggies you may need for a recipe. Many grocery stores now have a variety of cut up fruits and vegetables ready to go.
While you are at the store you may also want to pick up a roasted chicken for dinner. Costco sells large roasted chickens that can easily last for more than one meal, and they cost less than $5.00!
While you are at Costco, you can pick up an assortment of bulk fruits and vegetables to cut up twice a week to fill up the fridge and have easy salad ingredients ready to go.
You can make larger recipes so that you will have leftovers to take for lunches.
Make your own trail mix using nuts, seeds and dried fruit to have for snacks throughout the week. Trader Joe’s carries a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
Another timesaver (we are going to be implementing this in my household beginning this summer) is to share cooking detail! Assign family members or roommates (if they are willing and able of course) an evening during the week to be in charge of preparing a meal. This is a great way to free up some time and still eat a home cooked meal.
While home prepared meals tend to be a healthier option to those at restaurants, going out to eat and carrying meals out is enjoyable and can be relaxing and a great time saver. More and more restaurants are offering healthier options to meet the needs of their health savvy customers, and some provide nutritional information to help make better choices. When ordering your meal, don’t be afraid to ask for special requests. Restaurants are well aware of the fact that more people are eating healthier and have special dietary preferences and requests, and are more than happy to comply. Smoothies and protein drinks have become a popular and convenient way to get good nutrition on the run, and they are pretty much available at numerous establishments. If you have a good blender, they are super easy to make at home (www.prevention.com/food/20-super-healthy-smoothie-recipes).
Now that summer is here, it is the perfect time to get moving! Sign off of your computer, put down your phone, your game controller and your remote control and get outside and move! With the arrival of good weather, your favorite fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables are on the way!