Image by: The Photography Muse
By Avril Reyes
We all know the major offenders when it comes to poor health decisions, but sometimes it’s the little things in the day to day that can make the big differences over the long term. Here are some common health mistakes that anyone of us could be making and how to fix them now.
#1) Assuming that the Gym is Enough
The gym is the perfect place to get in a great calorie burn and tone up the body…but it alone is not enough to make up for a sedentary lifestyle and keep you healthy. People who live an active lifestyle and spend time walking and being on their feet can actually burn more calories than those who sit all day and do a quick cardio workout before heading home to sit on the couch.
If your job requires that you sit at a desk most of the day, get creative with your free time. Park further away in the store parking lot, take the stairs as opposed to the elevator, and pace around while you’re on the phone instead of sitting down some more. When you do go to the gym, get the most out of your time by having a plan. You should try to get 30 minutes to an hour of cardio most days, and to make sure it’s effective try adding in bursts of high intensity movement. Instead of a leisurely jog, throw some sprints in there. Working out is supposed to be a challenge!
#2) Cutting Out an Important Food Group
Fad diets are fond of claiming that one food or one nutrient is the root of all eating evil, but this isn’t usually the case at all. A good example of this was the thinking that fat is what makes you gain weight. Eventually the tables turned and it was revealed that healthy fats can actually help you lose weight and keep it off by keeping you feeling full longer…pretty much the exact opposite response.
The key is to eat the right kinds of foods from each food group. Stick with fats from natural sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil, while avoiding saturated fat that’s found in prepackaged foods. You don’t have to avoid carbohydrates altogether since they are a crucial energy source, just get them from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, instead of from processed sugars and high glycemic simple carbs.
Aiming to get your food from natural sources in it’s least processed state will ensure that you get the nutrients that you need without the added ingredients and additives that you don’t. And as always, moderation in any part of your diet is going to be key to avoid overdoing it on calories.
#3) Drinking too Much Caffeine
Caffeine is a substance that’s fine (or even good) in moderation but not as great when it’s overdone. When you drink too much caffeine it can not only make you feel jittery, but it overstimulates the adrenal glands which can cause stress in the body. This can lead to trouble sleeping, headaches, stomach aches, and elevation the heart rate.
Take note of what sort of drinks you’re getting your caffeine from. If you can switch from a coffee drink full of espresso shots to a drip brew or switch from a drip brew to a green tea instead, you can automatically drop down on the caffeine levels without having to cut out the drink entirely. Think more of spreading your caffeine out instead of bulking each drink up with it. Always alternate your caffeinated drinks with a glass or bottle of water to counteract the potential dehydrating effects.
#4) Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sometimes there just isn’t enough hours in the day and sometimes we get in bed at a reasonable time but for whatever reason just can’t sleep. Either way, your mind and body can both suffer from not getting enough sleep and it’s a more important issue than you might think.
Some research claims that 90% of people with insomnia have another health condition. Chronically missing sleep can put you at risk for heart disease and heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. In the shorter term missing sleep can raise the insulin levels in the body which can throw off your hormones, lead to breakouts, make your skin age faster, make you over eat and gain weight, kill your sex drive, cause stress, and cause depression.
Missing sleep also affects your memory, critical thinking, and problem solving. Some statistics suggest as many as 100,000 car accidents a year are caused by tired driving and that getting behind the wheel sleepy is comparable to driving drunk based on how it alters your reaction times.
Pick a bedtime to adhere to each night to start setting a habit for your body to adhere to. Make sure you turn off all appliances that might disrupt your sleep with their power light sources, and use a white noise machine if that helps relax you. Some people find it’s easier to turn off the brain to turn in if they write down thoughts, worries, or the shopping list before turning off the lights.
#5) Binge Drinking
In moderation drinking can be perfectly fine and even healthy for you. Besides the heart healthy benefits of drinking red wine, there have also been studies that found that moderate wine drinkers are thinner than their counterparts. Inner and out outer body bonuses! That being said, drinking switches from being healthy to being incredibly unhealthy quite quickly when you overdo it in quantity.
Binge drinking is classified as drinking 6 units of alcohol in one setting, and it usually happens on a night out on the town. The issues involved with this habit are that the body can’t metabolize the alcohol quickly and stress levels in the body can escalate quickly. Binge drinking has been linked to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
To revamp your drinking habits, try to spread out your consumption throughout the week instead of getting it all at once. For example, do a glass of wine with dinner instead of two bottles on Friday night. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water to give you time to register how much you’ve had to drink and you might just realize you’ve already hit your limit.
Are there any habits on this list you’re trying to makeover? Please share any tips or advice you’ve found for cleaning up your healthy living routine!