Spotlight: Easy options for a healthier lifestyle
With the main summer months fast approaching and warmer weather hopefully on the horizon, many are making the pledge to live a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, life often gets in the way and we accomplish less than we’d realistically like.
Whether it’s healthy eating, exercising or simply taking some time for yourself to relax and de-stress for the day, living a healthier lifestyle is doable.
Perhaps the easiest but often most frustrating way to revamp your lifestyle is to change your eating habits.
Cutting out unhealthy foods seems easy in theory, but we are creatures of habit: we try to cut things completely from our diet but find we often crave them more than ever.
Instead of purging, try healthier options in the same vein as what you already enjoy.
Belinda Jenkins, the Regional Dietitian for the High Prairie area has some suggestions.
Sugary juice can be easily replaced by water with fruit inside, like orange, apple, kiwi or a combination of whatever suits your tastes.
If bread is an integral part of your day, replace white bread with whole wheat or whole grain.
Small snacks like nuts or veggies throughout the day helps cut down hunger and prevents binge eating and having pre-cut vegetables in your fridge helps make sure you’ll actually eat them.
“Try draining your ground meats of any excess fat. Add veggies to whatever you can. Don’t wait until you’re very hungry to eat.”
Mindless eating is also a dangerous trap Jenkins says. “The bowl’s there and all of a sudden the bowl’s empty.”
Instead, she suggests portioning snacks to cut back on binging.
And for those who suffer from diabetes, your local hospital may offer classes to help improve your quality of life.
The High Prairie Health Complex offers classes May 22 and June 26 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Alberta Health also has the toll free number, 1-877-349-5711, to call to register for a class.
If you have any questions or want to book a one-on-one appointment, you can call Jenkins at 780-523-6451.
After a long day at work or with the kids, it’s understandable to not want to cook dinner and decide to eat out instead.
By planning ahead and having healthy options on hand, eating at home can be easy, healthy and save you some cash.
If you do go out though, Jenkins suggests, “Try to avoid fried foods. Go for baked, broiled or roasted instead.”
Besides healthy eating, the other most common change to a person’s lifestyle in the summer months comes in the form of fitness.
Joining a local gym can be a great idea, especially if you have a friend to go with you and keep you motivated.
Many gyms are open long hours to accommodate busy schedules and personal preferences for exercise times.
For those that don’t find the gym environment right for them, or the membership to be too expensive, there are many easy at home exercises to do whenever you have the time.
Crunches, squats, push-ups and so on can be done right in the comfort of your living room.
Taking a run around the block can be an alternative to a treadmill or elliptical.
Starting slow and then working yourself up to more repetitions or longer distances may take time, but it is one of the easier ways to maintain motivation.
If your day includes taking care of the kids, get them to join you.
Not only does it keep them active as well, but it will make the whole process a lot more fun.
Ask your kids if they know any games from school that you can play together.
For those at work all day, there are still options to be had.
Take some time on your lunch break to stretch, go for a walk, or do some harder workouts.
Even posture adjustments, abs crunches or leg lifts can make all the difference to a job that has you sitting for long hours.
By picking up a book on yoga at any local library or bookstore, or even searching online, you can do some at home exercises in your own time.
For the more tech savvy, gaming systems such as Wii, Xbox or PlayStation often have exercise based games available to help you get started.
Yoga mats can be found for a reasonable cost at Walmart or almost any sports store.
If yoga doesn’t interest you, there are also classes that offer zumba, which is a dance based cardio, as a fun alternative to regular exercise.
And just like yoga, many gaming systems have zumba available as an option for at-home fun.
Joining a sports team is also a great idea to stay active while having fun at the same time.
Whatever sport you prefer, whether it’s curling, basketball, hockey or otherwise, contacting your local rec centre will offer options to choose from.
If you have kids in sports, practicing with them at home is also an option that will not only help them get better, but keep you active in the process.
For those with injuries or trouble doing strenuous activities, water-based exercise is a low-impact option that still has the benefits of other types of exercise.
And while eating right and keeping active are both great ways to live a healthy lifestyle, mental health is just as important a consideration as the other two.
Deep controlled breathing can be a great way to relax with almost no effort.
Breath into your stomach, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, and it will help you maximize the oxygen intake to your body and get the greatest relaxation benefit.
If you have time, try lying down on a flat surface and focus on clenching one muscle group at a time and then releasing them, working from the feet up to your face.
The key is to go slowly and not rush things because you’re pressed for time. If you’re busy, wait until you have plenty of time to try these techniques to get the best relaxation physically and mentally.
Meditation is also a great way to clear your mind of any persisting worries you might have.
You can find a guided meditation easily on YouTube to help you get started.
As always, the internet is a great tool and can help you if you feel lost.
Just like controlled breathing, the benefits of fresh air are often underrated, but by taking a quick break to leave the building you’re in and soak up some oxygen and sunshine, if the clouds decide to part, you’ll find yourself feeling much better with almost no effort.
Try taking house hold outside if you can, allowing time to soak up some vitamin D.
Whether you enjoy books, magazines or the newspaper, set up a chair outside and make time to relax and read.
And while these are all great ideas, they’re only the beginning when it comes to living healthier