Wednesday, January 6, 2010

5 Ways To Improve Your Health

We will either be more healthy or less healthy by this time next year. Life is dynamic not static, things do not remain the same, including our health. Here are 5 ways to become a new you in 2010.

1. Purge your fridge and pantry.

The holidays are over, taking our excuses for all things indulgent with it. Still have a few of those gourmet cookies your financial planner sent? Throw them away. Half drank bottle of wine? Braise some meat with it. Everything used to celebrate last year doesn't need to be dragged into your new one.

How do you know what to purge? If it is white, if it has enough preservatives to be stored in a bomb shelter, if is sweetened, if it has more than 5 ingredients, if you can't pronounce the ingredients, if it has a label touting a health benefit, if it is anything other than whole, it needs to goes.

2. Buy some real food.

Grown in the ground. Picked from a tree or bush. Passed by a hen. Carved by a butcher. Hand made from an artisan. These are real foods. Anything else is processed and makes you prone to disease and weight problems.

Fill your fruit and vegetable bins with fresh foods until they are overflowing. Stock the freezer with berries and quality cuts of meat. Only eat real (full fat - otherwise it has been processed) versions of yogurt, kefir, butter and other dairy, albeit sparingly. Try healthier replacements for staples such as agave nectar, nut milk, quinoa and steel cut oats.

50% of people hospitalized are malnourished. And fat. This year, rather than go on a diet, go for some food.

3. Have breakfast.

Cortisol is a vital hormone within our stress response. Too much creates unattractive side effects such as belly fat, moon face and buffalo hump. When you skip breakfast, you effect a metabolic circumstance of cortisol remaining high after sleep and a insulin crash later in the day. When you have a healthy breakfast, you start the day more in harmony.

Breakfast and subsequent meals are ideally composed of protein and complex carbohydrates. Think oatmeal with chopped apple and walnuts or spinach omelet versus bacon and eggs. Balancing protein with healthy carbs and fats, you maintain a balance between glucose and insulin. Breakfast might really be the most important meal of the day.

4. Commit to more fit.

If you need to lose weight, whether its a little or a lot, your current exercise program (along with your eating regimen) needs tweaking this year. If you are in good shape, any body could benefit from improved conditioning.

It is time to add resistance, because we are not getting any younger. That means hand weights, bands, machines or calisthenics. More muscle = more fat burned.

And we need to get some exercise everyday. Think 6 days of movement and 1 day of active rest.
Walking at a pace where you can enjoy the scenery and the company of a good friend is active rest. Walking at a pace where you are breathless and sweating is exercise. Even 15 minutes makes a difference.

Variety is also key. The body was designed to move, sometimes explosively. If you always work out on a machine, try skipping rope. If you always hit the cardio equipment, get down and do some push ups.

5. Enjoy a treat only after exercise.

Can't live without pasta or white potatoes? Great, exercise first. The body is most resistant to insulin after exercise so that is the best time to ingest higher glycemic foods. Pairing lower glycemic foods with higher ones also lowers the overall hit to blood sugar. Think quarter cup of pasta with lean protein and vegetables or a banana smoothie with protein powder. However, "Exercise first" is a sensible principle for managing glycation not an excuse to eat half a bag of oreos after a grilled chicken breast.

If you incorporate purging your fridge and pantry, eating only real foods, having a healthy breakfast daily, become more fit and eliminate insulin spikes, you will be healthier. And, I dare say, happier as well.

If not now, when?

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