An ounce of prevention goes a long wayPublished 8:45pm Saturday, March 22, 2014
Let’s take an internal and external inventory of your entire physical system. Do you suffer with headaches, heartburn, high blood pressure, fatigue, dry skin, backaches, sleeplessness, diabetes, weight gain, constipation or diarrhea? Look in the mirror. Are you a picture of health? How are the color, tone and overall condition of your skin? How is the health of your hair, nails, eyes, teeth and tongue? Do you have good muscle tone, proper circulation and a healthy pattern of breathing? How is the frequency and health of your bowels and urine? What about your muscular skeletal condition and posture? Take a whole-life check, evaluating everything from your breathing habits to the way you sleep. Positive, small changes in an unhealthy lifestyle can yield large, rewarding improvements in overall health and wellbeing.
So, if you feel like you look unhealthy, you probably are unhealthy. That is the bottom line because the body speaks volumes about what ails it. The problem is that many of us do not recognize the warning signs, even when they are staring us in the face. Signs and symptoms that are unusual, painful, or debilitating to you are likely to be significant. Become your own health advocate. Truly, the more proactive you are with our health concerns, the better off you are in the short and long term. It is important to pay attention to your body. Knowledge is power.
We are what we eat. To keep us healthy and free from disease, it is important to take a more preventative approach. Adopt a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle to include a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, water, healthy fats and proper protein. Avoid processed, high sodium, and high sugar foods by steering our eating habits towards a balanced and natural approach to our intake. The more colorful a plate of food is, the more nutrients we receive from it. Start to pay close attention to how certain foods make you feel physically and emotionally. Take note after eating fried, sugary or heavily processed foods. These types of foods make the body feel sluggish, bloated and zapped of energy. Consider changing from white bread, pasta, and rice to the more beneficial brown or whole-wheat varieties. Also, to avoid bogging down the digestive system, start to become aware of the shear volume of food being ingested. Good old-fashioned calorie counting and label reading are a great place to start.
Another strategy to make small and effective changes would be in beverage choices. Consider replacing at least one sugary or diet (artificial sugar) drink with a fresh, clean glass of water. If you don’t like water, try squeezing in a little fresh lemon (not a plastic lemon, please). A good rule of thumb is to drink water throughout the day without letting you feel thirsty. Chances are, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Find a bottle that you can carry with you throughout the day.
Move your body every day. Find a way to become and stay physically active. One of the greatest forms of exercise is walking. If done outside, it is also a great way to get fresh air and sunshine. Our Washington waterfront is one of the most beautiful settings to achieve physical fitness and to improve mental wellbeing and clarity. Walking in the outdoors not only provides fresh air, it nourishes us with much needed vitamin D. Adding simple stretches daily will improve circulation, mobility and digestion. Studies are clear that physical activity reduces stress. Another added benefit to regular and consistent exercise is a reduction in your waistline. Excess belly fat is a notorious sign of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, gall bladder disease and numerous cancers. Just a 10 percent reduction in weight can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and increase longevity. Not to mention it’ll make you just plain feel better. The fact is, exercise benefits us physically, mentally and emotionally.
The key to healthy living is to make small changes. Start today. Oddly enough, we take better care of our cars than we do our bodies. When our cars break down, our mechanic will give us a diagnosis of what caused the malfunction and how to prevent further complications. However, if our bodies break down, we are reluctant to come to terms with how that breakdown occurred. Proactive maintenance goes a long way in improving overall health. Stop the negative and chronically unhealthy habits. Add fruits and vegetables; incorporate a whole foods approach to your diet; have a glass of water; walk more. Start to become more aware of how the food you put in your system affects your entire life. The quality of the food we eat gives us positive energy; exercise distributes that energy. Respect your body and get serious about your health and fitness by making an honest assessment of where you are today. Remember, there is nothing more important to our health than what we put into our bodies and the energy, clarity, and stamina that come as a result. These small ounces of prevention add up to a lifetime of wellness.
Connie Cipriano is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at Vidant Wellness Center Washington She can be reached at 975-4236.