There is no time like the present to start living a healthy life even if you have never worked out a day in your life. A sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition habits, and leading a stressful life can lead to premature aging, disease, and early death. As the rate of chronic and autoimmune diseases continue to grow exponentially, we are at a time in our lives where you can choose to lead a healthy, vibrant life or continue to spiral downhill to a premature death.
As I head into my 47th year, I don’t struggle with the term ‘keeping fit’ as it can be very misleading when it comes to overall health. Fitness is just one component of leading a healthy lifestyle and it’s important to remember this regardless of what age we are. Leading an active lifestyle can help slow down the aging process and increase our energy levels.
The Importance of Fitness
I use to think that 40 was old and once you reached middle age, your life would spiral downhill. This is the age where we were told that we start to put on weight in our mid-section and our metabolism slows down. For women, it’s the start of pre-menopausal symptoms, losing bone mass, and the concerns of age-related diseases starting such as osteoporosis.
Age has no boundaries when it comes to fitness.
Regardless of our age, fitness is always important to our overall health. I remember when I was in my 20’s and 30’s and I worked out all the time. Of course, I was a personal trainer for most of these years and I understood the importance of being active but now that I’m in my 40’s, I feel that I’m in better shape than I was 15 or 20 years ago. Why? Today, I spend less time working out than I use to, but I have a different perspective on fitness now. We don’t need a gym to stay active. The myth that spending hours in the gym to reach an optimal level of fitness in order to keep your weight in check is long gone. Other factors come into play when it comes to weight management.
For myself, being active is the key but more importantly, enjoying your activity is the key to staying fit and healthy. Creating an environment for yourself where you can actually look forward to jumping out of bed every morning to participate in an activity that not only keeps your weight in check, but increases your energy level, is the key to fitness success. So many people think of fitness as a weight management tool but fitness provides us with so much more such as:
- Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, CHD, type 2 diabetes, depression, a number of types of cancer, and so much more.
- Exercise improves mood as you may feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
- Exercise boots your energy levels by delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.
- Physical activity 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 hit the hay.
The bottom line is that it’s important to be active every day. For some, this can be going to the gym, and for others, it could be a walk in the park. Keeping your body moving every day is the key. Don’t get caught up in the hype that if you do your gym workout every day, this will keep you healthy. Fitness is so much more than that. It’s about the choices you make outside of the gym such as not sitting for long periods of time, or walking to the grocery store instead of driving the car. Our bodies are meant to move. So, get moving and enjoy the benefits of active living!
The Reality of Dieting
There are so many myths and unavoidable truths about what we eat. Nutrition has come a long way in the past 10 years as scientific research has showed us that what we eat not only significantly controls the scale but can actually help us live longer and healthier lives. The misconceptions around various diets and what to eat and what ‘not’ to eat has left the general public more confused than ever. Many people want to take the short cut when it comes to losing weight. This means, drinking shakes, taking pills, counting calories, watching portion controls, and omitting foods that contain nutrients that are bodies actually need.
You cannot out train poor nutritional choices. Simply put, regardless how much you train and workout, you will simply never get the results you are looking for if you diet is poor in nutrients. You will never achieve the weight you want in the long-term as your body cannot sustain its weight without certain foods. When you hear of ‘low carb’ diets, essential foods such as whole grains, starches (ie. potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, etc) are removed from our diet. Without carbohydrates (whole and plant-based foods), our bodies can simply not sustain a level of energy to carry us throughout the day. Scientific research has shown us that when we consume foods that are high in carbohydrates (whole and plant-based foods), and lower our intake of protein and saturated fat, the weight comes off and stays off permanently.
Making sure that your diet is packed with nutritionally dense whole foods will multiply the results you will get from any workout regime you decide to use, keep the weight off, increase energy levels, and significantly decrease your chances of getting chronic diseases.
Focus on Well-Being, Not Skinny
As I look around social media and see the images of people, both young and older, I notice a popular trend. A trend that shows people showing off their skinny and fit bodies, bulging muscles, and a sense of accomplishment that they finally made it from being ‘unfit’ and overweight to being skinny. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Skinny and fit does not equate to overall health. Our body weight and body fat measurements are not an accurate reading of overall health. Components such as fitness, clean eating, positive mindset, and controlling our stress levels, are all important factors that make up our total health.
There are many components to being healthy so let’s break it down:
First of all, our health refers to all the physical systems in the human body including the nervous system, digestion system, our heart, as well as our social and mental well-being.
Fitness refers to one performing a physical activity from walking to running marathons. You can exercise on a regular basis and still not be healthy. Fitness doesn’t imply health. It can help contribute to a person’s overall health but it’s not a guarantee that they are healthy.
Nutrition also plays a role in being healthy. You can workout, look fit, be skinny, but it doesn’t imply that you are healthy and if you don’t eat healthy, you can still remain unhealthy.
Mindset controls how we feel and how our bodies feel. If you are constantly thinking negatively, then those emotions can carry over into your physical being and make you sick. There are many techniques to change the way you think and feel such as positive thinking, eliminate negative self-talk, meditation, yoga, journaling, and many more.
So how do we become healthy? First of all, lose the mindset that you have to be an elite athlete and hit the gym 7 days a week to be a size 0. It’s not realistic for most of the population and I can honestly tell you that I don’t have a lot of time in the day to workout. However, I’m smart with my workouts meaning that I use my time well to my advantage to reach my fitness goals. I do however, have time to work on all of the following health components to be the best damn healthiest person I can be:
- Eat clean (no animal products, no processed food, no refined sugar, no oil.
- Drink water – the 8 glasses/day is a guideline only. If you feel thirsty then drink some water.
- Exercise (30-60 minutes a day) – wait, this doesn’t mean that you have to go to the gym every day. If you follow my blogs, there are many ways of getting active outside of the gym. Try these blogs for ideas:
- Get a good night of sleep (7-8 hours)
- De-stress – this is a tough one for many but I’ve learned to use tools like journaling and talking to others to help de-stress.
- Meditate or Mindfulness– there are many different ways to mediate but it’s helped me deal better with different situations and help balance me.
- Limit alcohol and no smoking
- Environmental factors – reducing chemicals in the household and outside.
Continue to exercise, but try to adapt all the above components into your daily life. Don’t let all the items overwhelm you, but instead gratify you. If you think that you don’t have enough time to do all of this, then your health isn’t that important to you, instead change the way you think. Change your story and you will change your life.
Taking charge of your fitness now means a better quality of life today and tomorrow.
Try not to let your age slow you down from what you want to accomplish. As a 46 year old, I have never felt healthier. Since I adopted a whole foods and plant-based lifestyle, I have reversed chronic conditions and avoided major surgery. I have more energy than I did 20 years ago, I sleep 7-8 hours a night, I work out less but I stay active every day, and handling stress is so much easier after adapting mindfulness techniques. I have never been happier and healthier.
Eat Clean & Live Green!
Your Compassionate Coach,