How to Live a Healthier Lifestyle
Living healthy should be considered a lifelong effect where a balance of regular exercise, good nutrition, and adequate rest contribute equally to your well-being. Feeling your best and taking care of yourself are important concepts that affect both your mental and physical health, as well as decrease your risk of developing long-term illnesses and chronic diseases. Moreover, doing what is right for your body is important for maintaining a healthy self-image. According to the World Health Organization, 60% of factors related to individual health and quality of life have positive correlation to one’s lifestyle. Unfortunately, millions of Americans at one point or another in their lives, follow unhealthy lifestyles that include bad eating habits, a lack of exercise, and poorly managed stress.
It’s important first to know and understand that “healthy living” is more than just paying attention to what you eat. Healthy living involves taking advantage of opportunities to act in a way that has a positive impact on your physical and mental health. One nice thing about making healthy choices is that oftentimes these healthy opportunities are so closely linked that a change in one aspect of your life affects the another (talk about a good kind of chain reaction!). It is apparent that people who follow an unhealthy lifestyle often encounter illness, disability, and even death at a greater rate than those who do what is right for his or her body. Many of the regular medical treatments people receive each year are prescribed to help restore the balance between mental, emotional, and physical wellness (in addition to treating and curing the ailment at hand). So, living healthy plays a key role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and it can keep you feeling good about yourself even when you’re having a bad day.
Adopting healthy habits can make a big difference…
Exactly what is a healthy lifestyle? Harvard researchers with the T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a massive study involving a huge number of people over a very long period of time with the goal of identifying common causes of premature death. Because prior studies had shown them to have a large impact on risk of premature death, researchers chose the five behaviors listed below:
Diet – Intake healthy portions of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids while limiting consumption of red and processed meats, food and beverages with added sugars, trans fat, and excess sodium.
Physical Activity – Staying active helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, joints, and body weight as well as reduces your risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Body Weight – Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. A BMI of less than 25 is ideal. Put into another measurable term: for men, a waist less than 37 inches and less than 32 inches for women are optimal. Calculate your BMI with this easy online tool.
Smoking – There is no healthy amount of smoking. Over 400,000 people die prematurely every year due to smoking. If you smoke, it healthiest for you to stop right away.
Alcohol Intake – Being free of dependence on drugs and alcohol is important for physical and mental health. Generally, one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men is accepted as being okay.
Not surprisingly, the more healthy habits someone adopts, the longer their lifespan. An analysis of over a dozen international studies in 2012, which included over 500,000 participants, concluded that over half of premature deaths recorded were due to unhealthy lifestyle factors such as poor diet, inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking.
Isn’t longevity all about your genetic makeup?
As it turns out, adopting healthy habits likely makes a bigger difference than genes alone. According to the collection of aforementioned studies, people who met criteria for all five lifestyle habits did enjoy significantly longer lives than those who met none of the criteria. While meeting all five criteria is ideal, researchers did conclude that adopting even just one of five healthy habits could extend life expectancy by at least two years in both men and women. When it comes to genetic signatures of longevity, in 1955 the New England Centenarian Study founded the world’s largest and most comprehensive study of how lifestyle factors influence longevity. Today, there are many different ways to learn more about your genes and DNA and what they mean for your health specifically. Metabolic Research Center offers a non-invasive DNA test that looks at five different gene markers and how they can impact weight gain, weight loss, and more. Connect with an MRC Coach today to learn more about your genes.
During the first 75 years of your life, genes appear to have a relatively small influence on longevity; actually accounting for only 20% to 25% of the reasons that you made it to that age. As you can probably imagine, eating healthy, getting plenty of exercise, not smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption mattered most during those years. It is not until you reach your mid-80s that genes begin to play a more prominent role in life expectancy. And once you reach your 90s, how much longer you are likely to live is largely determined by the genetic factors. These results also help explain why the average life expectancy of someone born at the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States was just under 50 years, whereas today’s newborn can expect to reach 80+ years. The change has little to do with genetics (as those have not changed that match over the past century) and everything to do with advances in public health and people choosing to live healthier lifestyles.
So, how healthy do you need to be?
Doing the same thing day after day can leave anyone living in a rut. So, assuming you are wanting to make changes in your life, a good place to start is to take a look at what you have to gain by living a healthier lifestyle. For example, if you want to feel better mentally, then being physically more active can lift your mood. Additionally, finding the support of a certified professional or even just a close friend or confidant can help you to feel more in control of your life and healthier overall. On the other hand, if you want to lower your risk of developing many largely preventable illnesses, not smoking, drinking responsibly, and eating healthy foods can help you better manage your sleep, your health, and your body weight. One of the keys to making lifestyle changes is simply developing more positive habits. The longer the habit, the stronger the habit; and before you know it those healthy behaviors are just a part of “who you are.”
While it doesn’t take long before you begin to see tangible benefits from improving your eating habits or exercising more often, trying to change everything all at once can be overwhelming and actually hinder your progress towards your healthy goal. So, it’s important to focus on one or a few things at a time. Easing into lifestyle changes are proven to be more effective than trying to tackle everything all at once. One way to transition and transform your habits in a more seamless manner is to build upon things that you already do (rather than starting completely from scratch). For example, if you already walk from your car to your office, simply extend your usual route by parking further away. Moreover, if you suffer from sugar cravings or simply lack motivation, adding a healthy high-protein snack can help. And remember, research studies show that increasing or adding even one new healthy behavior can make a huge difference in how you feel as well as reduce your overall risk for developing chronic diseases. So even though one small step may feel small, its impacts can be significant!
Ready to take your lifestyle to the next healthy level?
Losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle are about more than just eating right and getting more exercise (although, these are two perfectly great ways to get on track towards a healthy lifestyle). In fact, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, very few adults actually meet the strict criteria that defines a healthy lifestyle - with only 3% of American adults getting a perfect score on a quiz for healthy living. Now, this is not to say that only 3% of people are leading healthy lifestyles, only 3% of people are living what are considered perfectly healthy lifestyles. And it’s no secret that being healthy and staying healthy can be harder than it sounds. The difference maker for many who dream of achieving a long-term healthier lifestyle and those who achieve it? Support. Never underestimate the power of a strong support system. Having someone else in your corner who understands what it takes to stick with your newfound habits can make all the difference in success and failure. Whether that’s a friend, spouse, family member, coworker with similarly aligned goals, or outside coach - your support can act as your stamina! At Metabolic Research Center, we have over three decades of experience in helping clients restore their health while meeting and maintaining their weight loss goals. We provide all the menus, portions, and tips and tricks to get there - so there’s no guesswork involved at all. An overwhelming majority of successful clients agree that our people are what make the difference. Your team of professional Weight Loss Coaches are there to support you every step of the way as you adopt your healthy habits and grow into your new healthy lifestyle. Ready to take the next step? Connect with an MRC Coach and get started today!
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