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After my recent bout with health issues, I have decided to change my lifestyle into a healthy one. Numerous doctors and many health articles stress the fact that it is more due to lifestyle than anything else that we damage our health. The best way to have good health, and more importantly to maintain it, is to settle into a lifestyle that encourages good, healthy practices.
According to many of the articles I have read, by lifestyle they don’t really mean changing just one bad habit, like what you eat, or lack of exercise. It means an overhaul of everything that you have been doing up till now which caused your health to deteriorate. If you are serious, and I really am, you will discover that this mean overhauling your life completely. It is quite disruptive, oftentimes extremely inconvenient, and at first very, very difficult. But if you have been scared enough and have the imagination to see the possibilities of what bad health could be like, this will be incentive enough for you to take action, and more importantly to keep going.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a healthy lifestyle is diet. Over the past few months I have experienced first hand the effect of the types of food that I eat have over my feeling of well being, or even my mood. Having removed my gallbladder a few years ago, I know I have an intolerance of any fatty or greasy food. Yet I love anything fried, and therein is my downfall. But after cleaning up my system for a few days, if I succumb to temptation and eat something fried, the resulting feeling of heaviness and bad taste in the mouth are enough to leave a strong mark, deterring me from a repeat performance. Well at least for a few weeks.
So diet gets my full attention. Despite the fact that diet does not repair any damages, yet as a preventive tool to more damage, and in some cases as an aid to better overall health, diet is essential. I am fully cognisant of my nutritional needs and have read quite a few articles about what is good and what is not. Of course there are always contradictory views, but I have discovered that the best course is a happy medium. I shall not go overboard with my food types and intake as this is liable to backfire and cause me to go off on a very harmful binge as a result of pure frustration.
To me a happy medium is several little meals throughout the day, and only when I feel I am starting to get hungry. So it falls naturally into a mini meal every three hours or so. Also I have put great emphasis on fruit and some vegetables, but have not cut out carbohydrates or proteins, yet reduced their amounts, as all my meals have now been reduced anyway. I have also ensured that after a meal where protein was consumed I take a mug of green tea. Just tea, no milk, no sugar, nothing. Just tea. This helps me digest the protein and get the maximum benefit without any resultant indigestion, turning the food into fat. This method has also helped in ridding me of excess fat as green tea seems to be very good at that. I take a maximum of two mugs per day.
Another change in my diet is that I am now consuming more fish and less meat. The types of fish I eat now are salmon, mackerel and sardines as they are full of omega 3 which help with raising my good cholesterol. I have also added some new foods like avocado (guacamole) broccoli (a delicious soup and tasty steamed vegetable) and even some sweet potatoes (chuckfull of antioxidants).
The second lifestyle change is exercise. I do move, somewhat, but I am definitely not an exercise freak. I walk, I sometimes do Pilates and also swim, but I never do any of these on a regular, steady, consistent basis. I have bouts of activity, then back to my lethargic existence. So this change in my lifestyle is a bit more difficult to maintain. I have discovered that the best way to ensure continuity is to commit to someone else. So I have a walking partner who is just as enthusiastic as I to change her lifestyle to a healthier one. We have agreed to walk every morning, and this commitment is keeping us both in line. The first day was extremely painful. After months of lethargy, just moving continuously for 45 minutes was devastatingly exhausting. I nearly keeled over at the end of our walk, so the next day was more reasonable in pace, duration and distance. Within the week we were able to reach our goal of three kilometres in 50 minutes.
The third lifestyle change is the consumption of liquids. With the discovery of my kidney problem, emphasis on liquid consumption has become crucial. This is one of the most difficult of lifestyle changes. Getting into the habit of drinking a lot of liquids is really very hard. I had to do it. So I made a point of keeping a large bottle full of water with me all the times, and set a timer to remind me every 15 minutes to take a minimum of 8 mouthfuls. By midday I would have consumed half the amount needed. And after a few days I no longer need the timer. My internal clock took over, something like Pavlov’s experiment! I even started feeling thirsty, which practically never happened to me before.
The most important part of this lifestyle change is flexibility and tolerance of my relapses. If one day, on an outing I eat fried food, it is not the end of the world. If one day I want to laze about with no exercise, no problem. Though I know that the next day will be a bit more difficult, but still it is not a problem. The water part is the one I cannot change because now I get thirsty and need to drink.
With these changes, even though this has only been for two weeks, I am starting to notice some other changes. I am definitely sleeping better, more deeply and am waking up more rested and refreshed. I am starting to have more energy. I have started to lose weight and even my complexion is clearer. My muscles are toning up and I am looking better. I am even in a better mood.
What more can I ask for? I now have a healthier type of life while looking better and feeling great. I wish I had started that lifestyle change a long time ago, but better late than never.
7 October 2015