As women, it is impossible to avoid being bombarded by the innumerable health and fitness tips our society constantly throws in our direction. Everything from how to eat healthier, obtain a natural glow by doing yoga, get firmer abs and buttocks by doing Pilates—the list goes on and on! Personally, I have found that regardless of how in shape or out of shape I am, increments and moderation have proven tried and true.
So, in the face of all the advice being channeled at the ladies, the only advice I have is taking it slow and being realistic. You will see better, long lasting results and not have the added guilt that accompanies “failing” at a goal. In order to not “fail”, don’t set yourself up for failure.
To keep things simple and realistic, I suggest incorporating just one of the following health tips into your routine. Once it has become a good habit for about 30 days, try introducing another one. You will feel proud and your body will thank you!
Okay, so we’ve all heard the hype and most of us have gotten on the organic wagon at least once by now. But in fairness, organic does matter! Don’t feel the need to only eat organic, as it’s entirely impractical if you ever expect to engage in communal eating. Rather, focus on the most vital food groups. By that I mean, the ones that are most impacted by pesticides, hormones, herbicides and antibiotics. The foods most susceptible to absorbing and holding these agents include any produce that you cannot peel; strawberries, tomatoes, berries, tomatoes, etc.
If you are a meat eater, make it a priority to eat at least one animal food that is organic, and then try to incorporate more. Animal foods like eggs, dairy, or meat contain more fat, which is where toxins are stored. Since animal foods are higher in fat than fruits and vegetables, they’re also higher in toxins, which is precisely why organic is better.
Work Out Before Work
Early workouts are easier to squeeze into your hectic schedule, and they save you the need to shower twice. Studies also show that AM exercisers are more likely to stick with the program than those who hit the gym later in the day. Also if you work out too late, you might be prone to rev your body up so much that it could interfere with your sleep cycle.
Add Intervals to Your Cardio
Admittedly, as a former sprinter, I am not a fan of interval training (alternating short bursts of high-intensity activity with lower-intensity activity). As an adult I often find myself feeling entitled to side-step-it, with an attitude of “I did my time.” With that said, if you do want solid, all around results, then interval training is key. It has been proven to fry body fat and boost cardiovascular fitness more quickly than working out at a constant, moderate pace. Try a 30-second sprint for every five minutes of treadmill time, or in the pool, one lap of speed after a few laps of slower strokes.
Sidestep Knee Injuries
How many of your girlfriends or their daughters have had knee problems or surgery? That’s no small coincidence. Studies show that women are more likely than men to be weak in the knees. Incidentally, a proven technique is to build hips of steel. The stronger you make the muscles around your hips, the better you can control your femur (the thigh bone), which helps stabilize your knee. One easy hip-strengthening move: Tie a resistance band around your ankles, squat slightly and step side to side with as wide a stride as you can manage.
With all the technology inundating us daily, it is so difficult for us to unplug and wind down at night! Try to turn off the TV and close your laptop an hour before bed. The glowing screens emit a blue light that keeps you up by suppressing melatonin, a hormone that regulates your body clock. Additionally, try to detach your grip from your smart phone, often the temptation is just too great and before you know it, it’s 3 AM!
Filter Your Water!
Bottled water convenience comes at a high price: An estimated 9 out of 10 plastic bottles wind up in landfills or litter streets and parks. A home filter can get rid of a variety of harmful agents, including lead, mercury, and asbestos, that may be lurking in your water supply.
Take Your Meds!
I don’t know anyone who is not taking some kind of over the counter or prescription medication. But how many of them take them religiously? According to a 2006 survey, nearly 75 percent of Americans don’t take their prescription medications as directed. If you have a question about how to pop your pills, your pharmacist can set you straight. Or, if downing three pills three times a day is too much for you to keep track of, tell your doc—he may be able to prescribe a drug that doesn’t need to be taken as often or modify the dosage.
Take Your Vitamins!!
Multivitamin: While national surveys show that up to 80 percent of Americans think they eat well, only 1 percent actually meet minimum standards for a balanced diet. Choose a multivitamin that contains at least 100 percent of the daily value of vitamins A, C, and E and folic acid.
Vitamin D: Studies show that popping 1,000 IU each day cuts your risk of breast and ovarian cancers in half.
Fish Oil: Although smelly and unappealing, these pills have been proven to work wonders on the body—inside and out. Fish oil not only keeps your skin and hair healthy but also reduces the risk of heart disease and helps squelch inflammation. Experts suggest one gram per day.
Drink coffee, tea, and red wine between meals, not during them.
These beverages all contain tannins, which compromise your body’s ability to absorb iron from food.
Put Down the Cancer Sticks, Already!
Not to preach to the choir, but these sticks come at a high price with detrimental effects, particularly for women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that women smokers puff an average of 14.5 years of their lives away. You’ll get the best results if you work with an M.D. who specializes in smoking cessation.
So ladies… don’t be overwhelmed. Let’s just take this one small step at a time. By incorporating one new healthy habit every month or so, you’ll be on the path to a happier, healthier you!
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