With food and fitness, it's often hard to realize that the things that some people take for granted need to be taught to others. Some people learn about healthy living from their parents, others at school, and some are forced to learn due to obesity or other health problems.
No matter how you get your information about health and fitness, there are tons of conflicting opinions and facts, and it can be hard to know what the "right" thing to eat is or how many times a person "should" lift weights per week. I am lucky enough to have a mom that drilled into my mind the fact that happiness came from apples and bananas and I grew up eating whole wheat bread, a variety of vegetables, and a morning dose of English breakfast tea. As I've grown, my interest in nutrition has too, and I've spend a lot of free time researching what food is best for the human body and what exercise if the most beneficial.
I often notice that with learning about health comes judgment. "How could you eat that?!" or "Don't you know that fried food makes you fat?!" are both uttered regularly in the 14-person, sorority-girl house that I live in. The truth is that, while there are a few good-to-stick-by rules, each body is different and some people require different balances of fiber, carbs, dairy, etc. I do feel bad for the people that are constantly trying to be healthy but keep making basic mistakes, because it's unreasonable to assume that all people have had the time or luck to get educated on the importance of health.
So, here is my list of a few health rules that I think everyone should know in order to make the right decisions for themselves and their bodies.
*Note: Make sure to consult a doctor before making any large dietary changes
1. Whenever possible, choose whole wheat bread over white. White flour changes into sugar in your body. Whole wheat keeps you fuller longer because of the fiber and complex carbs. This applies to pasta, rice, pita, crackers, burger buns, EVERYTHING.
2. The more colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet, the better. Often, the color of a fruit or vegetable comes from an antioxidant or a special dietary feature of that food. So, a variety of colors leads to a balance of nutrients. There is no reason to limit the number of fruits or vegetables you consume, and filling up on these helps you avoid eating other, less beneficial foods.
3. Never starve yourself. Eating an extremely low-calorie diet is not healthy because it causes your body to go into starvation mode, causing your body to store fat. This dramatically slows down your metabolism as a survival technique. An ability to burn fat and a fast metabolism are imperative to a healthy weight. So, eat often and well.
4. Get enough Sleep. Your whole body slows down if you don't get at least 7.5 hours a night. If you're tired, you're less likely to have the energy to work out. Also, your body tends to reach for more carbs and sugars if you're tired and needing a serious pick-me-up.
5. Avoid fake sugar. Or, for that matter, Fake anything. Rather, choose real sugar in small doses. While there's nothing wrong with squash mascarading as spaghetti, fake chemicals simulating sugar, chicken, or cheese are never a good option. Our bodies have a much easier time digesting and absorbing natural ingredients.
6. Do cardio exercise whenever possible. A short walk is better than nothing. A long walk is better than a short walk. Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This is important for health health and keeping an efficient metabolism.This can include running, using an elliptical, yoga, or swimming.
7. Lift weights about 3 times a week, never using the same muscles two days in a row. Use light weights with more reps to build leaner, longer muscles, and use heavier weights in order to get stronger, bigger muscles.
8. Moderation. Moderation, balance, and variety. Nothing you love should ever be off-limits. Try and eat as many veggies and fruits as possible as the basis of your meal, but finish your night with a piece of chocolate if that's what it takes to make your soul happy. Also, there is nothing wrong with taking a day off from working out if you're feeling sick or tired.
I hope that these tips help some of you wade out some of the fluff and find some truth behind all the noise in the health and fitness world. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but in my opinion it's the 8 base rules that make choosing what to eat and what not to a little easier.
I believe that no one should be criticized for not knowing basic healthy practices. Instead, I urge all of you amazing health and wellness bloggers to push for education. If we could teach people how to make healthier choices for themselves, I think the world would be happier, healthier, and overall better off. .
What are your main rules? What would you add?