8 cups of water
7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables
6-8 servings of grains
2 servings of milk and alternatives
2-3 servings of meat and alternatives
30 minutes of physical activity
8 hours of sleep
A dash of healthy relationships
A pinch of optimism
A splash of relaxation and stress reduction
Plenty of motivation and planning
Combine all ingredients and place in a warm, loving environment. Best to be shared with others.
It sounds easy but obstacles like family demands, work, relationships and parenting commonly get in the way of our healthy lifestyle goals. If you’re looking to try the recipe for healthy living, read on for some tips from a “chef.”
Eat well. Poor nutrition negatively affects your health, so you need to ensure that all the essential nutrients are included in your diet. Healthy food will enhance your physical and mental stamina, enabling you to cope with the pressures of daily life more efficiently. Grab a handful of almonds or veggies with dip when you sit down for some TV time. Blend some fruit and Greek yogurt for a sweet treat.
Meal planning is something many struggle with, but you don’t have to do it alone. Get your entire family involved. Everyone can contribute to meal ideas. Kids will learn lasting meal prep and organizational skills, as well as the importance of family meals. You’ll also save time and money in the long run and be less stressed trying to figure out meals on a day-to-day basis.
Move it! Regular exercise is as important as nutrition to maintain good health. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases. Being active boosts "good" cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This double dose keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage many health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls. Regular physical activity improves muscle strength, boosts energy and increases endurance. Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. (Just don't exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.)
In addition to the physical benefits, exercise helps to manage stress and boost mood. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
Even shorter bits of physical activity can make a difference, so if you feel too busy to hit the gym, shun the elevators and climb the stairs to your office or apartment or walk to the market, rather than relying on your car.
“Me” and “we” time. Take solo time outs to relax, rejuvenate your mind and recharge your batteries. Healthy relationships and support systems are also important for your emotional well-being. Try to balance “we” and “me” time to meet both needs.
Sleep. Inadequate sleep reduces your energy, causes irritability and increases your risk of getting sick. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day will help you get a better night’s sleep.
Plan and schedule. In our attempts to achieve a healthy lifestyle, we often fail to prioritize. You may want to incorporate some form of exercise in your daily routine or bring a healthy lunch to work each day, but it just never seems to happen. Exercise, meals and time with others and for self should all be part of your day, so schedule them all in like you would an important meeting. Take a few minutes before bed and plan out the following day on paper or in a day planner or smartphone. If it’s scheduled, you’re more likely to stick to it.
Change comes from consistent, small efforts. It may be a struggle at first, but as anyone who has passed that hump knows, it is well worth it. Challenge yourself to take just one or two baby steps and see the difference for yourself.
Original Manitoba Blue Cross content. Last published in 2020.