Living well means choosing well. What exactly does living well mean? It means taking care of your physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs. Health in each of these areas adds up to overall health.
Living well is being able to pursue the lifestyle you wish, whether it's playing with your children or grandchildren, visiting with friends and family, or having the ability to climb mountains, travel, or participate in competitive sports.
The living well philosophy is simple. It is a willingness to acknowledge the most important factor in your health is you - you can improve your health through lifestyle choices.
The Choice is Yours
There are many things in this world that affect our health. While we have little control over factors such as our genetic makeup or age, we can make a significant impact on our overall health through our lifestyle choices. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates over eighty percent of all illnesses have environmental and lifestyle causes.
Think of all the choices you have control over. Should you skip a meal, grab a burger or have a salad? Stay at a stressful job or find something more fulfilling? Live in an area with high air pollution or crime or move? Get out and go for a jog or sit on the couch and watch a game on TV?
Although the choices seem endless, making the right choices in three areas can help you enjoy a quality of life. You must eliminate poor lifestyle choices, so you can prepare your body to operate at its best. Nourish your body to give it the fuel it needs to run efficiently. And replenish the items your body may be lacking or need more of due to environmental or physical stresses.
The first step in living well is to eliminate the factors that result in poor health. These may be either lifestyle choices or toxins. Here are a few items that negatively affect our health:
- excessive alcohol intake
- too much caffeine
- lack of exercise
- drug abuse
- lack of sleep
- high stress
- diet high in processed foods, fats and sugars
- living or working in an area high in pollutants
- a diet low in fiber, fruits, vegetables and other complex carbohydrates
When you eliminate an unhealthy lifestyle choice, you should replace it with a healthy one. Make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs by eating a well-balanced diet. This is one that is low in fat, processed foods, and sugar, and high in pure water, juices, complex carbohydrates, fiber, fruits and vegetables.
- 70 to 75% of calories should come from complex carbohydrates (vegetables and fruits)
- 15 to 20% from proteins (meats, poultry, fish and legumes)
- 5-10% from fats
You should also get plenty of exercise and rest. And don't forget to nurture the other aspects of your life as well - plenty of laughter and a strong social network can also help keep you healthy.
While eliminating and nourishing will go a long ways towards helping you maintain your health, there are times when extra stressors deplete the crucial nutrients your body needs to stay strong.
For instance, pregnant women, athletes in competitions, people under high stress, those who live or work around chemicals or pollution, or those who are ill or injured all have specific nutritional requirements.
As an example, if you live in an area that has high levels of air pollution, extra doses of antioxidants may help protect your cells from free radical damage.
One Step at a Time
Of course, you can't expect to change years of lifestyle habits overnight, so take it one step at a time. Pass up that cookie after dinner tonight in favor of a banana or apple. Tomorrow, turn off the television and instead go for a walk.
Many little steps will add up - and soon you'll be eliminating, nourishing and replenishing your way to a lifetime of good health.