In a world that pushes toward the complex, there are still simple ways to stay healthy.
Is it 8 to 12 reps to build muscle, or 15 for size? Legumes, Paleo or not… discuss. Two doctors, two opinions on salt. Ugh. When it comes to achieving ultimate good health, there’s a lot of complicated, and often completely contradictory, information. As part of our Healthy Habits series on simplifying life, look at ways to streamline our expectations, goals and habits when it comes to our health regimens.
- Commit to meal prep. Set aside a few hours on the weekend to get your healthful fare ready: chop veggies, cook rice, saute some onions and black beans, roast a chicken, hard boil eggs. Wait, I can hear you saying, “I thought this was about paring down…” Yes, because now all week you have healthy ingredients, ready to go, and can just grab them to assemble meals and snacks.
- Embrace repetition. If you have the same salad every day for lunch, so be it. Same seven dinners in rotation? Easy, done. Prepping fewer dishes overall saves time on meal planning, saves money because you can buy in bulk, and means food is less likely to get wasted from barely-used ingredients getting thrown out.
- Sneak in activity. No time for exercise? Wrong! A 2018 study from the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that even short little bursts of activity count. “Surprisingly, evidence supporting a minimum bout of 10 minutes is limited” the study reports. If you only have five minutes, take five minutes to walk. Focus on moving your body as frequently as possible.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. As Steve Kamb notes on his site, Nerd Fitness, “People are so terrified about doing the wrong workout that they end up doing nothing.” He writes that he gets emails all the time with questions like, “Should I run for 14 minutes at 5 percent incline or for 15 minutes at 4 percent incline?” Kamb notes, “Unless you are training to fight for the heavyweight title in UFC, trying out for the Olympics, or busting your butt to become a professional athlete, these tiny details will only drive you crazy.”
- Assess Supplements. Americans spend $21 billion a year on vitamins, according to Healthline. At your next physical, go over the list with your doctor to make sure you’re taking only what you really need, and for how they are interacting with medication.
- Focus on Food. A study from Johns Hopkins noted that the best way to avoid risks like heart disease and cancer are not via shortcuts like pills. It suggested that scientific evidence was stronger behind eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and cutting down on sugar.
SPREAD IT OUT
- Think Big Picture. There are many aspects to our health, mental health included. Instead of aiming for an unattainable list of daily health goals, spread good health habits out over the week and month. For example: Monday, take a long walk. Tuesday brings a chance to make a veggie soup. Wednesday is yoga. Thursday is coffee with a friend. Friday, some meditation and chanting. Saturday, a class at the gym. Sunday, hot Epsom bath. The goal is daily self-care in some form.
- Stack It. Called “goal stacking” or “habit stacking,” the concept is to add one goal at a time. Let’s say that this week, I decide I’m going to go to bed at 10 p.m. instead of 11:00. That’s it, that is the health goal. I keep doing that all week. If I achieve it, great. I add on another. Go to bed at 10 p.m. and read, instead of looking at the computer. Etc. Add one healthy habit on to another, slowly, week by week or month by month, keeping it very simple and doable.