So……how was your summer? Are you ready for fall? I know I am – it’s my favorite season, especially here in Colorado. The air is crisp, the Aspens turn gold, and every day seems to have a clear blue sky.
By now, most of us have heard that 40 is the new 30, or that gray is the new black, or strong is the new thin (or whatever……) Lately, I’ve been hearing that September is the new January because we associate it with back to school, a new season, new possibilities, and so forth. Maybe so, but metaphor aside, I do love September and it does feel like a time for gearing up for new things.
Because of that, I thought it might be a good time to revisit those foundational pieces that allow us to function at our optimum. Our bodies are beautiful machines that need to be cared for regularly if we want to live a quality life. In doing so, we not only feel better, we look better, our thinking is clearer, our energy levels are higher, and we perform better. Our immune systems are strengthened so we’re not at the mercy of every cold or bug that comes our way. One of the best ways to live a rich and pleasurable life is to take our health seriously.
Here are my basics:
Exercise. Physical activity is at the top of the list when it comes to looking and feeling your best. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes (or 2-1/2 hours) of cardiovascular exercise at moderate intensity every week. Brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming all qualify. Add in two sessions of muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups, and you’re good to go and be in great shape for years to come. Don’t forget to stretch, which becomes increasingly important as we age.
Fresh, healthy food in as close to its natural state as possible. Fruits and vegetables in season, lean proteins (think mainly chicken, fish, lean meats. There are wonderful vegetarian alternatives these days.) Lean cheeses, yogurt and whole grains round it out. Read ingredients and avoid processed foods with added sugar or salt. A good rule of thumb: If it comes in a box, don’t eat it. If you want your machine to function at its peak, the fuel you give it is key.
Mood. There’s a reason gratitude has become such a popular topic in recent years. It’s an instant mood booster. So are our positive and connected relationships with others, having a sense of meaning, being of service, commitment to goals, and exercise such as brisk walking. Why is it important? Research shows a sense of happiness – or well-being – provides a wealth of benefits: improved health and immune function, better relationships, more meaningful work and (even!) higher income. Happiness is not just a result of how we live, it is also an inner resource that can afford us better outcomes in all areas of our life.
Hydrate. Water is your best bet when it comes to staying hydrated. It increases energy and reduces feelings of tiredness. It flushes out toxins so it keeps your skin glowy. It reduces hunger, aids in digestion and helps you focus more clearly (your brain is mainly comprised of water!) And it’s free! Drink up!
There are more basics to cover, which I will do next time in Part 2. For now, making a commitment to increase your awareness and action in even one of these areas is going to make a significant difference in how healthy you feel, how you look and how you live.
I love to hear from you so if you feel the urge to share what’s making a difference for you in how well you live, feel free to post a comment on my blog and I’ll respond!
Enjoy those feelings of fall in the air!