The current generation (generation Z we’re called) knows only too well the importance of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, yet we’re probably the most obese generation in history. Does a healthy lifestyle just mean eating salads and running every now and again? That could be part of it, but each of us needs to learn that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all lifestyle. People are different. They have different physiques, varying capacities, and they therefore should be taught how best to accommodate these in a lifestyle best suited to them as individuals. Skinny doesn’t necessarily mean you’re either healthy or unhealthy. If you’re a few kilos over what’s considered normal for your height you could be either healthy or unhealthy. To have a healthy, balanced lifestyle you must consistently do three things, eat healthily, exercise regularly and have adequate sleep. So, how best to do this?
When I think about eating healthily I instinctively think about salads and plain, boring foods with no taste. I should think again. For healthy food isn’t necessarily plain, boring, or tasteless. Okay then: but from the confusion of so many highly publicised fad diets, how can I determine what’s the best and most appealing food for me? I think I’ll start by looking as what scientific evidence shows works best for most people.
- I’ll reduce/ stop eating processed foods — which will be tough at first. I’d expect to crave these, so rather than go cold turkey I’ll aim to taper off.
- I won’t skip meals. We tend to think that to lose weight we need to eat less. However the science tell us when we skip meals the body begins storing fat protectively, uncertain of when it might be fed again.
- I’ll do as nutritionists’ research recommends and eat 5 vegetables and 2 fruits daily.
- Drinking 8 glasses of water is also recommended, so I’ll carry a water bottle with me throughout the day.
- Generally I’ll make sure I eat more of what I call real food — as soon as possible after its been plucked from a plant, bush or tree, or dug from the earth.
- I’ll graze rather than guzzle, eating less at regular meal times and snacking in between……healthily!
I enjoy exercise most when, rather than striving for a bikini body, I’m just spending quiet time with me, and I’ve come to understand why this is so. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which give us a feeling of wellbeing, of happiness and in certain instances outright euphoria. I’ve also found exercise reduces anxiety, tends to clear my mind and aids concentration. But as I’ve said, we differ in abilities and capabilities, so set your own goals and your own pace. I’ve adopted the general recommendation of doing my own form of exercise 3 to 5 days a week. And you don’t need a gym for much that is worthwhile and enjoyable exercise. You can….
- Join a sporting team. The frequency and intensity of the exercise will depend on the sport’s and the team’s requirements.
- Ride your bike to school, uni or work.
- Walk with friends around your block, or be adventurous and walk up one of the popular hills trails. (You’ll be combining exercise and socialising.)
- Walk the dogs each night.
Heed your body when exercising. If your body is tired and sore, don’t over do exercise. It’s not worth injuring yourself. If you do need to take a day or two off from a regular exercise program, perhaps you could usefully spend the time doing stretching and flexing exercises to maintain flexibility and to reduce the risk of possible muscle injury once regular activity is resumed.
Beware exhaustion both physical and mental. Body and mind have their limits. Make sure you are having adequate rest each day, and remember, adequate sleep is essential to adequate rest. Teenagers and young adults should have 8 to 9 hours sleep nightly. If they don’t get it, their bodies remember the loss and will seek to make it up at the first opportunity – which is why if we’re in this age group, we’ll sometimes find ourselves sleeping like the proverbial log over the weekend. Sleep deprivation can cause memory loss and reduce attention span, so aim always to have a good night’s sleep before tests and exams. In sleep your brain will subconsciously go over your last-minute revision, and if the test involves sport, will subconsciously rehearse your muscles for the morrow’s event. Think of a sleep as painless, automatic study time. Ideal sleep time differs with age, young adults tending to need one to two hours more nightly than the elderly. If you’re exhausted and circumstances allow, turn off the bedside alarm. Give yourself a chance not only to wake when your body is ready, but also to awaken bright and alert.
It’s so easy to get stuck in routine that we forget to appreciate who we are, how far we’ve come and where we’re supposed to be going. Reflect on and appreciate all the good things in life. Relish little daily successes. Having a positive mindset strengthens ability to cope with life’s inevitable stresses.
Now To Balance
So remember, a healthy lifestyle is derived from a balance of healthy eating, exercise, rest, and enjoyment of life as a whole. Some days maybe more challenging than others. But never forget that your life is yours to live, based on your choices and yours alone. Recommendations from people, organisations and even society as a whole should of course be considered. Demands, most likely, should not.