Saturday, January 7, 2012

Top 10 Healthy Changes to go for in the New Year

Last week, I got an opportunity to go through the book featured around "52 Small Changes- one year to a happier and healthier you" by Brett Blumenthal and must say was impressed. As rightfully mentioned by the author bringing about a change is difficult and takes quite a time and effort on human part. The secret to bringing about a positive change that lasts, is to acknowledge and accept that, changes take time and patience in order to show results.

You can begin with incorporating the, Top 10 changes towards a healthier and happy YOU. I promise you will not feel let down.

Drink Up!
About 60 to 70 per cent of your body weight is water, and replenishing your body on a daily basis is vital to proper body function. Water helps to carry nutrients to your cells and is important in digestion. It provides a moist environment for ear, nose, and throat tissues, while acting as a lubricant for joints and cushioning vital organs and tissues. Proper hydration helps to flush toxins from your system, keeps blood clean and skin soft and stretchy, and allows you to cool down when you become overheated (especially during exercise). Drink the amount of water in ounces that equals your weight in pounds divided by two. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to drink seventy-five ounces of water per day. Use this as a baseline approach.

Take Time to Stretch
Stretching is important to release and manage stress. We tend to hold a lot of our tension in various muscles throughout our bodies. Some of us might hold stress in our lower backs; some of us might get stiff in the neck. No matter where stress resides, stretching aids in relaxing the muscles and releasing the tension. Further, it improves circulation by increasing blood flow to the muscles, which increases energy levels and aids in muscle recovery. Stretch a minimum of 20 minutes three times a week to maintain flexibility. Although stretching can be done anytime, anywhere, it’s always important to stretch when you exercise. Stretch after a warm-up and as part of a cool-down. At these times, your muscles are warm, which makes stretching easier and more effective. If you stretch at times other that during exercise, first warm up muscles by taking a fast-paced, five-minute’ walk while pumping your arms to increase circulation. Also, if you have an especially tight area of your body, stretch that area more often or throughout the day.

Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of your day. If you’ve heard this before but haven’t believed in the past, let me assure you that it is indeed true. Studies have shown that individuals who eat breakfast have more energy, better cognitive function and memory, and a lower BMI than those individuals who skip breakfast. Further, eating a well-balanced breakfast is instrumental in stabilizing blood sugar and combating fatigue. A healthy breakfast should contain lean protein, which helps to keep you satiated throughout the morning, and high-fibre carbohydrates, which provide you with energy, promote regularity, and keep you full. Good sources of lean protein include egg whites or eggs, low-fat or non-fat milk and yogurt, beans, and lean meat, such as Canadian bacon or ham. Good sources of fibre at breakfast include whole grain cereals and oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and fruit.

Get Five Squares a Day Overeating, under eating, and skipping meals can mess up your metabolism, leave you ravenously hungry, or cause you to feel uncomfortably “overstuffed”. Maintaining regular eating patterns, however, is highly beneficial to your health. For starters, optimizing your eating schedule allows you to have better control over your appetite. Eating smaller meals throughout the day doesn’t give your body enough time to become extremely hungry. Eating regularly also means you are providing your body with the fuel and nutrients it needs so it functions properly and efficiently so you can remain productive and energetic. Base your diet on cereals, fruits and vegetables with healthy serving of protein and fats. 
Live with Purpose
A life of purpose gives us tremendous clarity in what is important to us, helps us understand who we are, reinforces our core values, and gives us the opportunity to find and live with passion so we can create the life we want. Having purpose also prevents us from becoming “stuck” in life. It helps shape our actions, our thoughts, and our feelings, and motivates us to take life by the horns and live without regrets, or worse, live a life ruled by fear. When times are difficult, purpose helps us navigate life’s challenges so we stay on course while continuing to be the best that we can be. The first step toward finding your purpose is self-discover. It’s important to know who you are, what your values are, and what is important to you.

Get Strong
Strengthening your muscles, helps increase the percentage of lean body mass while decreasing body fat. Further, you can boost your metabolism up to 15 per cent, making your bodies more efficient at burning calories. This is instrumental to weight loss and weight management, and to having a lean physique. But the benefits go way beyond looking fit. Strength training, however, can stop, prevent, and in many cases reverse bone and muscle loss, warding off degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis and arthritis. Strength training also improves function of tendons, joints, and ligaments. This improves balance, flexibility, and coordination, reducing risk of injury and risk of falling by as much as 40 percent. Studies have shown that strength training can improve cardiac function and lower blood pressure, while improving good cholesterol, glucose tolerance, and insulin sensitivity. Similar to aerobic exercise, strength training releases endorphins, which improve mood and act as antidepressants, improving sleep patterns and overall well-being.

Lean and Mean
Protein is crucial to the structure of virtually every part of our body, including our bones, skin, hair, nails, muscles, blood, and organs. It is instrumental in giving us energy and helping us maintain a healthy metabolism. And finally, it helps make our meals filling and satisfying. Protein can be found in plant sources (beans, vegetables, and some grains), fish and seafood, and animal sources. Proteins found in plants, fish, and seafood is generally low in fat. Protein from animal sources including meat (beef, lamb, poultry, and pork, etc.), as well as eggs and dairy, however, can come with high doses of unhealthy saturated fats.

Slash Sodium
Salt, is essential to health and well-being when consumed in the right amount. It assists your body in maintaining the right balance of fluids, transmits nerve impulses, and influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Too much sodium, however, can contribute to health problems, namely high blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. As a result, it is best to keep your sodium intake to a healthy level. Keep track of the sodium you consume through packaged and prepared foods, as well as what you add during cooking and at the table. This will give you a sense of how much salt you are getting per day. To convert your added salt intake into sodium, use the following guideline.

- ¼ teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
- ½ teaspoon salt= 1,200 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1,000 mg sodium 
Indulge Wisely Depriving yourself to an extreme isn’t sustainable for the long- term, but we know that indulging to an extreme is no good either. When you don’t let yourself enjoy the things you love, you end up craving them more. This is where practicing moderation comes in. moderation allows you to enjoy some of the sweeter (or more savoury) things in life while not overdoing it so you sabotage your efforts to maintain health habits. By indulging wisely and treating yourself once in a while, it will be easier to stay on track the rest of the time. Accept that it is natural to get carried away and just a part of life. Remember that every day is new day and a new beginning. If you find yourself spiralling into unhealthier habits on a regular basis, hit the restart button by picking a day to get back “on the wagon” and follow through on your plan to do so.

Find our Own Spirituality
This is one factor which no doubt needs to be an integral part of optimum health and fitness. Spirituality, no matter the form it takes, has unbelievable power. It increases our hope, our sense of belonging, and our sense of meaning and purpose. Having faith can strengthen our immune system, as well as optimize our functioning both physiologically and psychologically. Additionally, regular meditation or prayer, essentially an expression of our spirituality, helps reduce our stress levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, Physical responses often include slowed heart rate and breathing, lowered blood pressure, and lower levels of stress hormones.

You can catch up more in the book named,"52 Small Changes".

Wishing you all a healthy, and a balanced 2012.
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Provided by women&Fitness

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