Everyone is busy these days. We’re juggling family, home, work, school and social obligations with the never-ending list of things “to-do” we have on our plate – grocery shopping, household tasks, and getting the kids to the dentist. Some of us may be concerned with getting Mom or Dad to the dentist or grocery store, too, in this day of the “sandwich generation.” Finding the time to do it all and take care of ourselves in the process can sometimes feel overwhelming. Add to that the stress of an uncertain economy and taking the right care of ourselves can easily get lost in the shuffle.
Yet, there’s nothing more important. Taking care of yourself, feeling well, giving our bodies good fuel and exercise is what makes all the other things possible. Our health and well-being are fundamental. Think of what happens when you are hit with the flu. Everything stops, you can’t work or get anything done because, well, you can’t move. And with the flu, at least you know it will pass (even though it doesn’t feel like it at the moment…..) What about a warning from your doctor that you really need to get that extra 20 pounds off? Or something more serious? Even if your health doesn’t seem to be overtly affected now, if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed in your daily life, how much fun is that?
Your health, your well-being, is the foundation of the rest of your life. Making time to eat right, exercise and enjoy some down time isn’t a luxury. It’s basic. How well can you really do the rest of your life when you struggle with your weight, a chronic lack of energy, or unhealthy behaviors? Maybe you are constantly catching the latest bug, often a result of too much stress and decreased resistance. A certain amount of stress in life is unavoidable and can actually be desirable (think new baby, or finally landing that dream job) but chronic stress over time takes a toll on health and well-being.
The good news is that while certain life situations and circumstances may be beyond our control, there are things we can all do to ensure that we are in the best shape possible to meet those challenges and enjoy our daily round. True wellness is about much more than eating well and exercising. How are you living your life? The choices we make today affect not only how we live today, but how well we live in the future. Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting old! Many of the factors that predict good health and longevity are within your control. And those are the factors that contribute not only to successful aging, but living well now.
Some of those factors are obvious, and we all know what they are – eating right, getting adequate exercise, not smoking or quitting if we do. Other factors may not be discussed quite as often but can be just as vital to our well-being. For example, we all know that we need to get enough sleep to function at our optimum, but did you know that not getting enough sleep can contribute to weight gain? Various research studies, including a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show evidence supporting a link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. There are a few possible explanations for this. Some studies have shown that sleep-deprived people burn fewer calories. Another explanation may be that when people are tired, they are less likely to make healthy food choices. Still another explanation involves hormones. A lack of sleep causes an increase in the hormone, ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Simultaneously, there is a decrease in the hormone, leptin, which helps one feel full. Not getting enough sleep has also been tied to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and breast cancer. Add to that the fact that you will simply look and feel better, and it’s obvious that getting enough rest should be high on anyone’s priority list. Getting enough sleep is a basic element of good health.
Don’t shortchange yourself. What you do is important. You are important. And you are important to the people around you. Get a good foundation for the rest of your life.