We, as a society have come to rely on our government for many things including our health. It is time for us to make a commitment to take responsibility fo…
For months now, the health care bill debate has circulated over the media and into almost every living room in America. Whether you are in support of the bill or not, it is a topic of concern for most Americans. Currently, America spends far more per capita than any other country in the world and yet we are a country overwhelmed with health issues; obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. Half of Americans have a health problem that requires weekly prescriptions. Our health care is going to change- for better or worse, it is going to change. It is very unsettling to feel as though we aren’t in control of our own health care. The passionate debates in Town Hall meetings across the country are testament to the insecurity people are feeling. I believe in standing up for your beliefs and voicing your opinion in this country. However, when all is said and done, regardless of which side you stand, are you in control? Perhaps not of your new health care plan, but of your health…absolutely!
That is what Americans need to realize; it is your health; wake up and take control and responsibility for it. How? Health is generally ours for the taking, but we need to take the responsibility for it. Our lifestyle is more responsible for the poor health that many of our fellow Americans suffer than our genetic make-up or our health care plans. The number one thing that you can do to improve your health is to improve your lifestyle, not your health care plan. Too often, we stand in line waiting for the government to fix things for us; fix our financial situation, fix our neighborhood, fix our health, etc., what we are forgetting is that we can become empowered to improve our health, but it requires a commitment to taking responsibility. We can’t go through life eating fast food cheeseburgers, smoking cigarettes, sitting on our butts all day, taking sleeping pills to get to sleep, and using caffeine to wake up and expect to stay healthy. One day we are going to wake up and realize that we are sick and we ain’t gettin’ better whether we have the best darn health care plan or not.
And half of the people reading this are saying, “I do have a healthy lifestyle”. Studies show that most people surveyed report eating very well, yet, in separate surveys we can see that a very small percentage of people are actually getting even the minimum requirements of fresh fruits and vegetables. One third of the young people in this country are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Increasingly, they are falling prey to a form of diabetes that used to be seen only in adults, and these young people now take more prescription drugs than ever before. And adults; two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, over 15 million Americans have diabetes, a number that is rising rapidly, heart disease and cancer are epidemic and half of Americans require prescriptions. We are failing our children, we are failing ourselves!!! And this is all our doing, not because of our health care or lack thereof.
I have had so many people tell me that part of a “good” life is eating as they please. Do you know, however, I have never heard a sick person, one with cancer or diabetes say, all the “good” food I ate was worth it. People must have such a skewed perception of healthy living, that they can’t fathom actually living it.
A healthy lifestyle is one of simplicity. Think about that, simplicity. The problem with our lifestyle is that we do too much and want too much—stuff- that is. And instead of figuring out how to simplify our lives, we insist we have no time. No time to cook or prepare healthy food, no time to exercise, no time to spend outdoors with our families, no time, no time, no time. The price we are paying, our children are paying because we refuse to budge and give up some activities or obligations or time in the office or our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, televisions sets, our 3rd car, our closet FULL of clothes, our 35 pairs of shoes, our mansion home, our credit card lifestyle, is our health and that of our children. We manage to find the energy to get ourselves into these situations, working countless hours, running wildly to soccer tournaments all weekend, racing through the shopping mall, and utilizing fast food restaurants and the microwave for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then we sit idly by, wondering why we aren’t healthier and what to do now. Should we blame the government because we have lousy health insurance? Or take a pill, a quick fix? Is this really what we want? Is this how we want to live?
So what should we do? We should decide to prioritize our health! Foresee the possibility of the future as bleak and sick if you don’t take control of your and your children’s’ health now. Is your child on prescriptions for ADD or ADHD or depression? Are you? Do you take sleeping pills? Do you have heart disease, diabetes or cancer? Does your child have diabetes? Are you or your child obese? It is time to make a commitment to live healthy – and happy. Happiness is not stuff; material stuff, it really isn’t. It is living and experiencing life together and for that we require our health.
If you can’t fit “healthy” into your life, it is time to make adjustments to your life. Not a sudden, full overhaul, but rather, adjustments. Tweak it and fine tune it. Go for less. Buy less and make less obligatory commitments. Make gradual changes, but make them.
In keeping things simple, that goes for meals also. Food prep should be simple (unless of course you love elaborate meals and have the time for such). People often work up healthy eating in their minds as too grand, too much effort, too much time, too many strange ingredients; but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just think simple.
In planning a new healthier lifestyle, remember to make changes gradually. Following are some guidelines to give you direction as you embark on your new adventure.
1. Start your day with purified water. Water will flush toxins and carry nutrients to the cells. It also keeps cells hydrated and more prepared to resist germs. Aim for ½ your body weight in ounces when gauging how much water to drink in a day. Sip it throughout the day. Allowing yourself to get thirsty only to guzzle 8 ounces in response is unproductive. Your body can only utilize a certain amount of water at a time. Slow and continual drinking is best.
2. Fresh fruit in the morning is the best energy you can give yourself. Fruit, eaten alone and on an empty stomach requires no energy for digestion. It moves out of the stomach quickly and into the intestines where nutrients can be absorbed into the blood stream. You will experience more energy when your body doesn’t have to use any for digestion. Aim for at least 3-4 servings.
3. Eat plenty of raw veggies each day. Strive for 5. Yes it sounds like a lot and keeping veggies exciting may seem impossible, but with a little creativity you are sure to figure this out. Raw is the best as our living body requires nutrients from living plants. Once food is overcooked or processed, most nutrients and enzymes are gone…dead. Living food equals living cells, dead food equals dead cells.
4. Reduce or eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners. Sugar disrupts your insulin balance and weakens the immune system. Diet products with aspartame are NOT the healthier option. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener breaks down in the body into phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol (wood alcohol). It is a neurotoxin and an excitotoxin, exciting brains cells to death. It has been implicated in headaches, seizures, birth defects, and many more health problems.
5. Reduce or eliminate processed foods. Processed foods are dead. They are laden with chemicals. Eaten day in and day out, chemicals place a toxic burden on your body. You don’t receive living nutrients from processed foods. Only eat minimally processed foods and your body will thank you. Remember to eat whole foods, fresh foods and as many raw foods as possible.
6. Reduce animal foods. This is a big topic of debate. But it is important to know that saturated fat from meat, milk and cheese is artery clogging and detrimental therefore to your heart and brain health. The much praised calcium from milk also isn’t by all means your best friend. We have more osteoporosis in our milk drinking country than does other non-cow milk drinking countries, by far. The calcium from cow milk is far from what our body needs for strong bones. Get your calcium from plants, nuts and seeds and get your protein from the amino acid building blocks of plant foods. Additionally, studies indicate that a diet high in animal foods increases the chances of cancer.
7. Get plenty of exercise. In addition to the obvious benefit of weight management, exercise also helps you improve heart health, increasing HDL’s while decreasing triglycerides. Additionally, exercise stimulates brain chemicals which improve your mood. Considering that according to some studies, stress is the root cause of many diseases, mood elevation should be motivating enough to begin moving your body more.
8. Go outside. Fresh air and sunshine are imperative for good health. Some studies showed that patients near windows in a hospital recovered faster than patients without a window view. Our bodies require oxygen before all else. Without it, we exist for a matter of mere minutes. Oxygen circulates to all the cells in our body, and therefore the more fresh air you get, the more enriched your cells will be. Sunshine is often equated with “happiness”. Sunshine allows your body to make vitamin D, a necessary nutrient for bone health. It also helps with insulin balance and mood balance, improves heart health and much more. People have been unjustly scared away from the sun to the point of vitamin D deficiency. Moderate but regular sun exposure is essential for optimal health. You skin pigmentation should dictate how much exposure you allow yourself.
9. Relaxation is also imperative to optimal health. Some people find prayer or meditation very relaxing. Deep breathing or yoga has also been shown to help relax the body. Gardening, hiking, and humor are all also great ways to de-stress. Regardless of what relaxes you, do more of it, because as I stated above, some studies have shown that stress is very instrumental in poor health. De-stress yourself regularly.
10. And finally, get a good night sleep of 7-9 hours. Each person is different, and may require slightly different amounts of sleep. The body rejuvenates during sleep. It is an imperative component in a healthier lifestyle. In your quest towards a healthier lifestyle, remember that it is your path and you are in control. A decision requires action. And every action in the right direction is positive momentum. Get the ball rolling and soon enough you will become a healthier person.