Sylvia Leong is a former healthcare professional who uses her education and experience as a nutritionist and therapeutic personal trainer.
You want to maintain your health? Of course you do! But first, you need to know what you’re maintaining. What constitutes the make up of your body?
- A blueprint: 23 chromosomes from Dad plus 23 chromosomes from Mom. Your blueprint is the unique template used to build every cell in your body.
- Everything else is food. That’s right, each one of your billions of cells is made from food (or more correctly, nutrients).
It’s this easy: give your body what it needs and it will continue to repair or renew each and every cell. Hence, if all the cells that make up your body are in excellent condition, you’re going to appear not only healthy, but feel youthful too!
Let’s take a closer look …
Many of the chemical reactions within your body require water. So, drink at least eight glasses of water throughout the day. For every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage, add yet another glass of water.
For variety, add to your glass:
- A slice of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit
- Grated ginger
- Sliced up cucumbers
- A sprig of mint, rosemary or other herb of choice. Experiment!
- During the warmer seasons, add ice as well. Your body will burn calories just warming up all that ice-cold water.
2. Eat Real Food
For most, this is a difficult concept to grasp. Real food had two outstanding characteristics:
- It must be grown
- Your body carries a corresponding enzyme to catalyze digestion, nutrient extraction and finally elimination.
Unfortunately, the corporate world has taken food and mixed it with fillers, preservatives and artificial flavours, and then brainwashed us into thinking that’s how everyone eats. Thus, we find ourselves eating food products instead of real food. The corporations make a profit, our health care expenses increase while the landfill is cluttered with empty containers.
It’s that simple.
Processed food products only contain a small amount of nutrient-rich real food. The problem: high-fructose cornsyrup, transfats, sulfites, MSG, preservatives, food colouring, etc. are empty calories. They’re turned into toxic fat and stored in your fat cells or on the inside of your arteries—as the theory goes.
Rule of thumb: if it’s processed and in a package, don’t buy it. Demand value for your calorie!
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It’s not about looking for the least calories; it’s about choosing the calories with the most nutrients.
The healthiest choice:
As much as possible, purchase the raw ingredients and prepare your meals yourself. Think farm—and get as close as you can to using harvested crops and animal products when putting your meals together in your own kitchen:
- Fruit, Vegetables
- Meat, Eggs
- Beans, Lentils
- Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese, Butter
- Olive Oil, Flax-seed Oil
- Whole grains: Barley, Spelt, 100% Whole Wheat, Oats, Brown Rice and Quinoa
- Nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Hazelnuts, Cashews)
- Seeds (Chia, Pumpkin)
- Herbs, Spices, Garlic and Ginger
- 100% Maple Syrup or Honey
3. Never Diet Again
Newsflash: your body can only metabolize only 1.5 pounds of fat per week (approximately 6 pounds in a month). So, if you lose more weight than this, you’re losing precious calorie-burning muscle! Over time, this’ll lower your metabolism and sabotage any weight loss efforts.
Not to mention all that loose skin!
It’s better to lose the weight slowly, retain your muscle mass and allow your skin the time to regenerate “smaller” so that it will still tightly hug your smaller body.
There are always new diets on the market, usually in the form of a book that recommends eliminating essential nutrients and sold using sensationalist advertising. If a particular diet becomes a sensation, corporations follow up with bogus food products.
Remember! They don't care about you. Their purpose is the pursuit of money.
And sure, you’ll lose weight in the beginning. But the lack of nutrients will slow down your metabolism. Eventually, you’ll gain that weight back with health issues to boot! This creates a downward spiral eventually leading to feelings of failure, a seeping away of self-esteem, and possibly depression.
Whilst you suffer, the author and publisher of the diet book and the corporations selling the food products are unaccountable.
Smart eating habits are a lifestyle. So, don’t deny yourself, but don’t overindulge either. Instead, allow yourself a little treat each day and stick with your favourites.
4. Never Go Hungry
Most people believe their bodies need a specific number calories, regardless of where they come from. Untrue. Cravings and hunger are a signal your body doesn’t have enough nutrients to repair or renew your cells.
Your body needs nutrients. Calories are irrelevant.
So break that fast! Plan and prepare your food so you eat when you're hungry. It’ll keep up your metabolism, balance your blood sugar, and curb cravings.
Protein is important! However, your body only stores protein in the form of muscle. You don’t want your body breaking down your hard earned, calorie-burning muscle! Include protein at every meal to keep it circulating in your blood.
Carrying a tiny jar of nuts helps if you’re caught-out and hungry. A spice jar is the perfect size!
5. Sleep 7–9 Hours Every Night
Most cell repairs and renewal are accomplished while you sleep. Without adequate sleep, the lack of cell repair and renewal accumulates and ages you. Sleep even less and your immune system will fail and disease will set in.
- Reduces energy
- Increases appetite
- Promotes fat retention
- Interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize sugar, thereby causing an insulin reaction.
6. Wine and Beer
Wine and beer are excellent aids for chilling out at the end of a hectic day. Therefore, an alcoholic beverage is deemed healthy when consumed in moderation. So, stick to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
Not only is alcohol high in calories, it lowers your metabolism for the duration that it’s in your bloodstream. But considering alcohol’s stress-reducing capabilities—it’s worth it!
7. Eliminate Stress
The way things should be versus the way things are … it’s the space in between that causes your stress. The larger that space, the greater your stress. It’s difficult to change the world around you. But you always have the power to change your mind, yourself, and your life. So do it!
Chronic stress triggers the body to increase cortisol levels beyond what’s healthy. Over a prolonged period of time, cortisol produces the following negative effects:
- Suppressed thyroid function
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Decreased bone density
- Decrease in muscle tissue
- Increased abdominal fat
- Loss of collagen in the skin and inhibition of further collagen formation
Take time for yourself and do what it takes to reorganize your life with the goal of reducing your stress.
8. Weight Train
Use it or lose it!
Every year after the age of 30, you lose half a pound of muscle. Once a muscle fibre is lost, you can never gain it back. This explains why your 80 year old mother cannot climb stairs anymore—the loss of too many muscle fibres.
Keep all that valuable muscle and build it up while you’re at it. Weight-train! Your muscle burns calories constantly—even while you’re sleeping. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn!
Weight training with correct form, impeccable posture and an effective amount of weight will:
- Ensure against the loss of muscle fibres
- Densify the muscle you have by increasing contractile units and thereby gaining strength
- Strengthen your bones, ligaments and tendons
- Prevent injury
- Add shapeliness to your figure
- Burn calories
- Make everyday activities easier
Three weight training secrets very few people know:
- You only need one set: A muscle group only needs to be stimulated once to begin the physiological process of building new contractile units within the muscle fibre. In other words, one set—with an effective amount of weight, with repetitions until muscle exhaustion—is all it takes. Remember, multiple sets on one muscle group are a total waste of time.
- Each time you finish a weight training set, immediately stretch the muscle you just used as it’s the warmest it’ll ever be.
- You only need to weight-train once a week: Assuming your workout includes all the muscle groups. Ward off injury and inflammation, each muscle group needs a week’s rest between sessions to rebuild and heal.
9. Add Movement into Your Life
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is important for the health of your heart, lungs, and circulation. Are you shuddering from the very thought of hamster-wheel fitness equipment?
No worries, it’s healthier to use a variety of activities. Start walking! It’s more fun if you can keep track of your progress with a pedometer or heart rate monitor.
Just remember, the more vigorous your exercise, the less beneficial to your health. Marathons, triathalons and other extreme sports cause aging from tissue damage and inflammation. An hour’s brisk walk every day is all you need.
Life doesn’t happen in a gym … so get outside! Integrate movement into your life with fun and social activities:
- Golf (without the motorized cart)
- Racquet sports
- Team sports
- X-country skiing/snowshoeing
- An evening out dancing!
- Classes are great too! Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Spinning, Aquafit, etc.
Include movement your daily activities:
- Start each morning with a ten-minute stretch routine.
- Ditch your car, or park further away, and walk whenever possible.
- Accomplish all your errands in an urban, “walkable” neighbourhood of the city.
- Swear to yourself that you’ll never see the inside of another elevator and take the stairs.
- Set a timer to go off once per hour while at your desk. Stand up, stretch, use the washroom, get a glass of water, etc.
- Try to move or get some form of exercise every day.
So there you have it—how to stay healthy. But remember, emotionally and physically, we all rebel against change. So, take only one of these nine sections at a time and hammer it until it’s a habit. Only then, move onto the next. Good luck!
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Sylvia Leong
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on March 04, 2021:
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 02, 2021:
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on March 02, 2021:
Sounds like you're better than most Bill!
The article is more of a general sweeping view of health. If you feel good at 6 hours of sleep, that's probably enough--we're all so different.
However, the weight-training you need! It's so important. Just nine exercises once per week and you're good to go:
And if you keep your lower abdomen tight while strengthening your other muscles, it's like a built in exercise.
I'm so glad you're healthy otherwise.
Thank you for the comment, I really appreciate it.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 02, 2021:
I always cringe when I read articles like this one, mainly because I know what you say is correct, but I compare my lifestyle to the list and wonder why I am still breathing...and not only breathing, but ridiculously healthy, never sick....makes no sense at all, other than great DNA.
Having said that, I'm 72 now, and I can probably claim six of the nine on your list. Not bad....no alcohol because, well, I'm a recovering alcoholic and I don't want to give up my fourteen years of sobriety....six hours of sleep, so I fall short there...no weight training in the last two years....anyway, I know what you wrote is correct, and thank the gods I'm healthy despite my shortcomings. :)