This is a guest post by Jennifer Brown Banks.
I never really worry about the state of my fitness until I’m due for a physical check-up.
Despite outward appearances, doctors always know when you’ve been “faking it ‘til you make it!” And I hate the lectures.
Like car mechanics, they can always detect if you’ve been negligent in maintenance and upkeep. And more often than not, I have been.
Blame it on my sedentary lifestyle as a freelance writer (for the lack of activity), or my ferocious metabolism that allows me to eat like a line backer, yet look like a cheerleader. But, I’ve been secretly breaking all the rules.
I sometimes eat pizza in bed after 9 p.m., consume more red meat than I should, and never count calories. I don’t workout at the gym, nor try to adhere to B.M.I. recommendations. Food is my one vice.
But, in 2011, like millions of Americans, I am “resolute” in changing my ways. As I get older I have come to recognize the correlation between good health and quality of life. In fact, the signs are all around me. A few of my friends have been recently diagnosed with Adult Onset Diabetes.
While others are dealing with daily medications taken for high blood pressure and other ailments. Additionally, African-Americans have a higher blood pressure rate than any other group. Obesity affects us disproportionately as well. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 45% of Black adults are obese, as compared to 31% of Whites.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Health is the greatest wealth.” And these days I’m seeking to live a life that’s rich, vibrant and full. What I have discovered through trial and error and observation, is that many of us well-intentioned folks get detoured on the road to good health by having lofty goals that are impossible to maintain, and based upon what “experts” establish.
Perhaps you’re one of them. If so, think of the following health tips as “Cliff-notes” to a better you, to help you work smarter, not harder!
Here’s the skinny on improving your fitness.
1. Recognize that fitness is a process—Take baby steps in the beginning. Opt for taking the stairs as opposed to riding the elevator. Park your car a few blocks from where you work to get in a few blocks of walking. Behavioral experts contend that it takes 21 days before something becomes a habit, so give it some time.
2. Make small changes rather than radical moves—Instead of giving up chocolate, or swearing off pork forever, eat smaller portions and eat it less often. Weaning works wonders. And remember, moderation is the key.
3. Hate exercise? Substitute. You can attain some of the same benefits through dance classes. Four popular styles that have emerged on the scene are Stepping, Line Dancing, Pole Dancing and Belly Dancing. One friend of mine confessed that her recent pole dancing classes have not only helped her to tone her body, but has increased her confidence. Actress Lisa Rinna swears by dancing too. In an interview with Health Smart Today Magazine, she states, “The body changed from the dancing, and I’m trying to hold it together, with dance classes and exercise. I want to keep this body!”
4. Clean to get lean! Did you know that you can get a work out from house work? Vacuuming, mopping, washing windows and many of the chores you participate in each day can burn calories and help to achieve your fitness goals. So not only will you “shine,” your house will too!
5. Individualize your game plan. Don’t feel the need to compete or to compare yourself with your best friend’s strategies and successes, nor to follow the standards of your favorite actress. We are all different. Take into account your age, body type, lifestyle, health factors, and short and long term goals for optimal results.
6. Drink more water-It’s one of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve your health. A glass twenty minutes before a meal will decrease your appetite. Additionally, water is reported to have several beneficial properties– from improving the quality of skin, to removing toxins from the body.
7. Reduce Stress – All stress is not bad, but too much can definitely be detrimental. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure, ulcers, and a number of life threatening conditions. For this reason, it’s important to strive for a balanced lifestyle, harmonious relationships, and adequate amounts of rest. To quote a popular expression, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
I’m sure you’ll agree that the above regimen is not very labor intensive, nor is it considered rocket science. So there’s no reason you can’t implement these tips today to prepare for a better future tomorrow.
I must admit that In my couch potato, unenlightened days, I thought it was kind of cute to defy the odds and cheat the Gods of good health, now I’m convinced that by not adopting more healthy ways to live, I could ultimately rob my loved ones of the best me possible.
And that would truly be a crime.