How To Lead A Healthy Life

How To Lead A Healthy Life

Drink. Lots. Of. Water.

Health: it's something that we as a world are constantly chasing. Whether it be the next fad diet, crazy "fat-blasting" workout, or perhaps even one food that will make us immune to all diseases - we all hope that at least one of these will have a positive effect. One moment these things are life-altering must-haves, and the other they are more likely to cause harm than any good. Like anything, health too goes through trends.

For me, being healthy has always been about balance; clean eating, paired with exercise and healthy habits. Most days I make sure to get enough sleep, drink at least 2 litres of water, do some form of exercise (even if that's just a brisk walk), and eat healthy, clean meals. I do not believe in dieting, but rather in leading a healthy lifestyle. I choose not to smoke, do drugs, or drink excessively. Please note that I am not a dietician or health expert, these are simply tips that have helped me feel and look healthy.

Notice on that last line I wrote "feel" healthy. Living a healthy life certainly isn't just about looking good; it's about feeling great, too. Don't starve or over-work yourself, as this can do even more harm to your body. It's simply not worth it.

Water / Drinks

Drinking plenty of water is undeniably the basis of a healthy lifestyle. More than half our bodies are made up of water, and so therefore we need to replenish them often. Since getting a S'well bottle for Christmas, I have been drinking so much more water. This bottle has honestly changed my water drinking habits, and I recommend it to everyone I know. I don't know about you, but I really dislike drinking room-temperature water. I know it's better for you, and easier to digest - but I just love cold water. This bottle keeps water cold for 24 hours and therefore keeps me drinking it. It also keeps hot water hot for 12 hours for all my fellow tea lovers out there!

Drinking enough water keeps my skin clear and my energy levels up. I always know that water is almost always the answer when I'm feeling a bit weird and lethargic, or when my body feels a little bloated (a sign of dehydration). 

One tip I have is to be really mindful of the calories and sugars you consume through drinks. It may not feel like you are consuming much, but so many of the drinks in our world are laced with massive amounts of added sugar. For some perspective, one can of Coke has about 9 teaspoons of sugar inside. On average, men should keep their refined sugar intake down to 9 teaspoons of a day, and women should have 6 - or preferably none at all. In reality, North American's consume close to three pounds of sugar each in a week. We have to realise that refined sugar is addictive and destructive. I don't drink soda, and I try to stay away from sugary fruit juices and iced tea. However, now that I've just told you to not drink calories, I'm also going to tell you to not substitute them for chemicals either. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in most diet sodas and drinks, is deadly. The sweetener, famous for being a low-cal option, actually promotes weight gain. Researchers at the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine found that there is a correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain due to the chemical's ability to block stomach enzyme activity. The chemical can also have direct and dangerous effects on our nervous system, even impairing our learning and memory. Scary stuff. 

Instead of soda or a concentrated fruit juice, try a home-made fruit smoothie using whole fruit with the skin on and the NutriBullet. My personal favourite is a mix of mango, berries, cherries, kale, spinach, cucumber, and avocado - sweet & earthy! If smoothies aren't your schtick, you can also try iced green tea or water mixed with pieces of citrus fruits, which is so refreshing and also aids in digestion.

Alcohol is something I personally try to stay away from while at school. I find drinking can be so hard on my system (probably because I rarely do it), and I prefer to be clear-minded and focused while in school. However, when I am not in school, I am not at all adverse to having an occasional drink. It is something I enjoying doing socially with friends and family. Again, it is something that must be done in moderation, but a couple of drinks now and then certainly won't hurt you.

Food

As cheesy as this sounds, food truly is one of life's greatest pleasures. I am a complete foodie. I love eating (and making!) well-prepared, diverse, fresh, and healthy dishes (though, I do love to indulge in a great steak, pizza, dumplings, or a large bowl of pasta from time to time). My day-to-day diet is primarily made up of lean protein (turkey, chicken, eggs, and plain greek yoghurt), vegetables and leafy greens (spinach, kale, green beans, cucumber, and broccoli), fresh fruit (watermelon, berries, pomegranate, and bananas), healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, and salmon), and complex carbs (brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potato). These delicious foods help keep my energy up and fuel my body for busy days. They systematically work to burn fat, emit energy at a steady pace, and increase the metabolism. I also take a daily supplement from Nutrilite. My mum took them when she was pregnant with me, and I have been taking them since I was little. I swear it is the reason my hair and nails grow at the rate they do. They stuff so many vitamins, minerals and plant-based goodness into these things! 

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In terms of food, I try my best to stay away from anything processed, fried, and frozen, as well as anything with corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and refined sugar. Microwave popcorn, sugary cereal, processed meats, bottled salad dressings, pastries, and sweets are all things I have tried to eliminate from my diet as much as possible or completely.

Exercise 

With exercise, I feel that it is so important to find something you genuinely enjoy doing. Or guess what? You're not going to do it. Now, I'm not the most fit person in the whole wide world, but I can certainly climb a few sets of stairs without feeling winded and go for a decent run without wanting to die. For me, running and strength training exercises with light weights do the job. I personally have a naturally thin body, and I like to maintain it this way, however you may enjoy having a more muscular body and do more heavy weight training - it's all based on personal preference and your body type. For me, running keeps me lean, and the light weight training gives me a bit of definition in my core, my arms, and my legs. I typically do an hour and a half sessions at the gym 4 times a week. 10 minutes of stretching before and after, 40 minutes of interval based running (so I switch between walking on the highest incline and running on a lower incline), and core, arm, leg, and glutes exercises for the remaining 40 minutes. But maybe you're not a gym person? That is completely okay. Cycling, swimming, dancing, yoga or playing a team sport are all great ways to get your blood pumping while enjoying the process. 

Nevertheless, investing in a comfortable pair of cross trainers or runners is a good place to start in terms of working out and getting fit. These are your own two feet we are talking about, after all, and they should be protected at all costs. I personally love Nike trainers. I find they form to my feet so nicely and never cause any issues or pain while I run. They are also so sleek looking and come in so many different varieties and colours. 

Sleep

Last, but certainly not least, sleep. You've gotta catch those zzz's. Sleep rejuvenates and repairs our bodies, allowing us to recharge and chill out after a long day or week. It enhances your memory, attention span, and lowers stress levels. It also promotes weight loss and improved mental health. Lack of sleep can cause a vast array of health problems, including high blood pressure, which can lead to so many dangerous conditions. 

I personally like to go to bed at a fairly decent time (anywhere between 10:30 and 11pm), and I enjoy waking up early at around 6:30 or 7am. It is important to get enough sleep, usually around 7 to 8 hours a night is recommended. However, consistently sleeping over 9 hours a night can increase your risk of depression, weight gain, and heart disease. 

Sweet dreams!


To me, living a healthy life is so, so important. We only get one body and one mind, and we owe it to ourselves to treat them right. I don't want to be immobile or sick when I get older due to mistakes I made regarding health at my age now. I simply want to be able to do everything I want to do! Not everything is preventable, but implementing these practices surly makes a difference in not only how you feel today, but how you'll feel in the future too. 

-Meredith

 

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