Education / Healthcare

Healthy, not just “healthy”

Forbes has a list of 10 ‘healthy’ habits that drain your bank account. Those ten are:

  • drinking bottled water,
  • taking unnecessary supplements,
  • having a gym membership and not using it,
  • drinking soy milk,
  • eating organic peanut butter,
  • drinking diet soda,
  • drinking orange juice,
  • buying unnecessary skin treatments,
  • colonics, and
  • eating protein bars.

These habits could be considered “healthy”, but in reality, none of them are better than their alternatives. In fact, some of them are just as bad, if not worse.

(Instead: Drink tap water instead of bottled water — it saves money and is environmentally friendly. Make sure the supplements you take are actually good for you. Either start using that gym membership, or get rid of it and take walks outside. Drink low-fat cow’s milk — it’s no less healthy than soy milk. Organic peanut butter has more fats than cream cheese — try that as a spread instead. Drink water instead of soda or orange juice. Eat a boiled egg instead of a protein bar — those are often loaded with sugar.)

It’s important that we maintain healthy habits, but we must be properly informed on what is actually healthy. With an overload of media campaigns by fast food companies and about a million sponsorships by soft drink companies, etc., it’s easy to get mixed up in the confusion of healthy vs. “healthy”.

The following health tips are based on the CDC’s recommendations for a safe and healthy life.

  1. Eat healthy food. This means checking the labels of the packaged foods you buy. Make sure you’re getting fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day, and limit how much sugar, fats, and oils you consume in a day. It’s best to stick to a recommended calorie count — if you’re giving your body more calories than it uses, it will be converted into unnecessary fats. Make sure you eat a variety of different types of foods (make sure there are lots of different colors!) each day.
  2. Be active. Please note that this doesn’t say “go to the gym.” You don’t have to go to the gym three times a week in order to be active. Walking home from work, going on bike rides, and playing soccer in a park all count as activity! You do want to include activities that strengthen muscle and get your heart rate up, but you don’t have to have access to a gym to do those things. Use cans of soup as weights for your bicep curls. Go on a jog around your neighborhood. Be creative! You can find ways to exercise. Admittedly, it’s hard to get started. Begin by setting aside 30 minutes every evening to walk around your neighborhood or local park. You can even add a destination, such as a library, so your walk has a purpose. Take a friend or family member with you. Be accountable to each other to stay committed and go on a walk every day! Soon, you can start varying what you do. Spend those 30 minutes doing yoga, jumping rope, playing soccer, or any combination of activities. Most people spend at least 30 minutes on the internet or watching tv every day; let’s be active instead! Don’t be discouraged if it’s hard to get in the habit or if your muscles are sore the next day. That means it’s working! You’ll get better with time.
  3. Make safe decisions. When you ride your bike, wear a helmet. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, riding the Metro, before eating, etc., to stop the spread of germs. Avoid smoking or other forms of pollutants. Keep a supply of water and an emergency plan, just in case. Build good, healthy relationships with family and friends.
  4. Manage your stress levels. Life is hard, but we can’t let that negatively affect our bodies. Have a positive attitude and look for the best in situations. Make sure you find a good balance between work and play. Set aside time to relax. Stretch, spend time thinking, do some leisurely reading, take a power nap. Do what you need to do to feel relaxed. Get enough sleep. This is crucial! You will be much more likely to feel stressed out and worried if you aren’t getting enough sleep. Make sure you’re sleeping 7-9 hours every night (and more for kids, depending on age). Find someone to talk to about your stress. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a counselor, it is a good way to release stress. Counseling isn’t just for people who “have problems”, either: it is a great resource for people to get rid of stress and think clearly.
  5. Lastly, make sure to get a regular checkup from a doctor. Doctors can make great recommendations on how to stay healthy.

Health is a common topic these days in our country, and it’s because it’s such a prevalent issue. There are a lot of health problems among American citizens. The obesity epidemic, the rise of chronic conditions, and the recent meningitis outbreak are all examples of health concerns in our country. Your chances of getting sick are not always based on your health decisions, but if we all try our best to be healthy from the start, we’ll be much better off in the long run.

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