Top 8 tips on staying healthy – words Alexa Wang
You live this life in just one body – taking care of it can be a rewarding and enjoyable process if you take the right approach. It doesn’t have to be a chore.
Better health is a story of choices and habits, not restriction and punishing yourself.
Good habits and behavioural change are the best approach to health, which carries over to other areas of life in significant and meaningful ways.
Read on for inspiring ways to stay healthy without pain. It might be the most useful coffee break you ever take!
Realise: Calories are Not the Bad Guy
A calorie is a measure of energy. Nothing more, nothing less. There are less calories in 100g of cake than 100g of coconut oil. Calories don’t make a food healthy or unhealthy – though the number you eat determines your weight gain/loss.
Calorie intake is a simple slider from weight loss to weight gain – not a bad, unhealthy, or dirty word. Your daily calorie requirements (TDEE – Total Daily Energy Expenditure — which you can calculate online) is key. If you eat more than this, you’ll gain weight, if you eat less than your TDEE, you’ll lose weight.
Eat more, weigh more. Eat less, weigh less.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Try Intermittent Energy Restriction
No matter your weight or bodyfat, it’s important to eat less than your body needs sometimes. This is called intermittent energy restriction (not the same as intermittent fasting, the fad diet) – and it doesn’t mean starving yourself.
Eating less than you need at times helps to support cell health and long-term metabolic health. Not to mention helps to keep your weight under control or give a boost to a diet that’s plateauing.
Intermittent Energy and Carb Restriction (IECR) breaks dieting down into 5-day blocks, rather than a continuous process. This breaks down to four restricted days and one re-feed day:
Restricted days: 75% of maintenance calorie intake (the calories you need to maintain the same weight), 75% carbohydrate intake
Re-feed days: 125% of maintenance calorie intake, 150% carbohydrate intake
This keeps your brain and body nourished, reduces weight-loss plateau risk, and keeps you strong while dieting. You should perform your toughest workouts just after re-feeding days to perform your best. This works perfectly with heavy strength training.
Nourish your Body with Micronutrients
Nutrients are a key player in your overall wellbeing, health, and mood. They’re the bits that keep your body ticking over and they’re what makes a food classically “healthy”.
All you have to do is get plenty of high-quality plant foods in your diet.
This comes from preferentially choosing nutrient-dense wholefoods like vegetables, lean proteins, eggs, cultured dairy, and others. These are rich in vitamins and minerals that support metabolism, reduce fatigue, improve your physique, and keep you mentally healthy.
This means getting more than just your 5 a day: you should be eating as many veggies as possible throughout the day. At least one serving with every meal, and even more if you find you’re getting cravings between meals!
We know, you’re probably shaking your head about now, asking how on earth you can fit so much into your diet. We recognise that it’s not easy. Likewise, today’s intensive farming methods are often implicated in less nutrient-dense benefits to our foods.
While experts will recommend trying to obtain everything you need from food sources, it’s not always enough. Supplementation isn’t a dirty word, especially if you choose a quality multivitamin.
We recommend food-cultured multivitamins in particular. The right multivitamin can provide nutrients near identical to those you’d find in food.
We like Performance Lab’s pioneering BioGenesis™ production process promises to create vitamins and minerals that are identical to those found in nature – that means they have the same proteins, enzymes, probiotics and cofactors that you’d find in wholefoods. These cofactors are what makes the nutrients compatible with your body, meaning they are highly bio-available.
Whichever multivitamin you choose, make sure you avoid synthetic or isolated versions of nutrients as the body tends to reject these (which is why your urine turns yellow) and a great deal of the vitamins and minerals are wasted.
Eating and supplementing these key nutrients fights fatigue, builds immune function, and supports health across every category!
Exercise with Strength and Cardio Training Three Times a Week
Staying active is a great way of supporting your physical and mental health all at once. The two are inseparable.
Cardio exercises are great for helping you to focus and concentrate (especially when you do them in the morning). On the other hand, strength training is a great way to support muscle/joint health, produce better brain health, and it provides a key framework for confidence and empowerment.
You should be performing at least three full-body workouts per week (rather than the occasional overkill workout) for mood and cognitive performance, as well as improving your physique significantly.
Try and find something you love doing and exercise will never feel like a chore again. We recommend trying different sports and training styles to find what you enjoy most, giving yourself the best chance of sticking with it.
Get Your Eight Hours Every Night
Nothing is as refreshing as sleep for both the body and mind. We lead stressful lives and taking time out to rest and recover is hard but rewarding.
Our sleep schedules are battered by commitments, screen-time, and poor relaxation habits. It’s not a surprise that the average person is sleep deprived by over an hour every single night. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 people are likely to experience a clinical sleep disorder.
You can’t keep that up forever without serious burnout or depression risk. Chronic stress is behind a lot of chronic health problems. Depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke risk are all increased with chronic sleep loss.
On the everyday side, resting mood, better stress-tolerance, and a reduced risk of burnout all come from getting your 8-9 hours a night. Supporting restful sleep with supplementation is also possible – compounds like Magnesium and vitamin D are key to highly-restful sleep and can be found in combination in supplements.
If you’re in a high-pressure lifestyle, you still need this extra sleep. You’ll make up for the time off with improved efficiency during waking hours: if you’re up for 14 hours, you only need to be 7% more productive per hour to justify that extra hour sleeping. That’s an investment you can afford!
Be Mindful to De-Stress
Practicing mindfulness and committing to down-time is key. This combats chronic stress and helps you find balance in your life.
Whether its gallery-browsing, film-viewing, or a nature walk with friends/pets, non-ruminative time is what you need. Traditional solutions like yoga and active breathing are also effective here, so combining these two types of activity is a great choice.
Taking time to focus on relaxing isn’t lazy; it’s necessary and it prevents burnout.
We all get hyped up – we’re living fast-paced lives that are fuelled by caffeine and adrenaline, living on lost time. The problem is that stress adds up and chronic stress is a toxic state, linked to disease, mental illness, and a poor quality of life.
The problem is that you’re not recovering from this stress. It sits on your shoulders and builds up, day to day, if you’re not actively de-stressing and practicing some form of mindful, active relaxation.
If you can afford the time to push yourself to the limits when you need to, you need to make time for yourself and your personal needs. We recommend doing the things you love as often as you can!
Social activities are a particular form of de-stressing you need. We’re social animals and research shows that regular social interactions in a relaxed atmosphere can easily improve your mood and releases crucial endorphins.
‘Feed your Brain’
Nootropics and other mental health support nutrients can also reduce stress and improve mood, taking us back to the importance of diet and supplementation. Nootropics benefit anxiety, mood, memory, and focus through brain-nutrition.
You can get a ready-made, scientifically-designed nootropic stack in the form of Mind Lab Pro, which supports cognitive performance and mental health. This ensures great supplementation without needing dozens of products or having to figure out what you need to take.
De-stressing and socialising reduce fatigue and help you sleep better, and nootropics can energise your mental activity. Your mental and physical health benefit from taking time to yourself – it’s an investment, not just a luxury!
Break your Bad Habits and Build New Ones in 66 Days
Studies show that habits take an average of 66 days to develop and perhaps even longer to break. Committing to new (good) habits and controlling existing bad habits can change your life in just over 2 months.
This applies to any other form of recreational chemical – from drugs and smoking to alcohol. Alcohol, for example, is a seriously toxic compound, but most people still drink to excess. This can damage hormones for 3-4 days afterwards, as well as producing fatty liver disease.
If you want to commit to your own health and wellbeing, taking time off of your chosen vice is an important way of maintaining psychological and physical health. Building new habits supports healthy brain function and reduces the onset of age-related cognitive decline.
You should continue to challenge yourself and expand your horizons as you age. This can overlap with every other item on this list – eating, exercise, de-stressing, and sleep hygiene – and building new habits is an important habit by itself!
Your best life comes from continually improving and, even if you don’t give up your bad habits or keep new ones forever, it’s important to control your own life. This helps build up competence, confidence, and a self-concept that improves your health and quality of life!
Health isn’t just about the fitness industry or Instagram food pages. It’s a holistic approach to better living that gives you the tools and support you need to enjoy life to the max.
It’s also not a significant commitment to a restrictive, ascetic, monastic life. These tips are all about making small adjustments and better choices to produce a better existence. You have to live this life, so you should stay healthy for as long as possible and keep your quality of life as high as possible.
Try incorporating these tips into your life and you may find they’re fulfilling on their own, as well as for their benefits. You don’t have to jump in the deep end: apply them incrementally and only move forward once the habits have “stuck” – you might surprise yourself with the change you can make!
You deserve to take care of yourself – a little time for health means a big pay-off in happier, healthier living!