October 19, 2012 0Comment
By Carolyn Richardson and Leyla Shamayeva Let's face it, knowledge really is power. Knowing what to eat, how to exercise and when to make it all work is great. But there's a missing link that will help you bridge the gap between old habits and a healthier lifestyle. Aside from the basics of good nutrition and physical activity are some overlooked lifestyle tendencies that you must change if you really want to stay on track to a life of good health and wellness. Even when you're doing everything right, these five mistakes could derail all your hard work. Lack of Sleep Numerous studies show that a good night's rest is essential to maintaining healthy eating choices. Aim for seven to eight hours a night, although the National Sleep Foundation says, "Our sleep need depends upon genetic and physiological factors and also varies by age, sex, and previous sleep amounts." The point is to get enough sleep to feel refreshed and rejuvenated upon waking. To get back on track, start by exposing your body to bright light in the morning and avoiding it in the evening. Screen time, including cell phone, TV, and computer use, should also be avoided within an hour of bedtime. Lack of Planning A hectic life is one thing, but an unorganized hectic life is unacceptable if you’re trying to maintain healthy habits. The key to your success is having a plan and staying organized. There is no shortage of tech-savvy tools to help with grocery lists and meal planners, let alone cell phones, email accounts, and tablets that can help with setting alarms and sending reminders. Just as important as having a plan, is having a plan B. Think of contingency strategies when life happens. That way you learn to cope when you get a curveball. Be flexible and realistic, and you’ll be a success. Hiding Calories An extra half cup of rice here and a small bite of cake there may seem like nothing, but calories add up and suddenly you’re 300 calories over your daily limit without even realizing it! Stick to your plan, and log everything you eat so you have a real picture of your caloric intake. That means counting condiments and other food additives. Add ketchup or mayonnaise calories in a sandwich, the milk and sugar in your coffee, and the added oils you add when cooking as well. By staying aware of these hidden calories, you’ll know how to keep them under control. You may not think these small things count, but they do! Letting Your Brain Go Being healthy isn’t just about physical activity and eating right. Mental health is a huge part of being healthy and happy as well! In addition to exercising your body, make sure you don’t forget about your brain! Get away from the TV or your phone for a bit and work on activities that stimulate you mentally. Logic puzzles, crosswords, reading, writing, and memory exercises are a great way to keep your brain agile. Enroll in continuing education classes if you have the time, or use your local public library to explore subjects that interest you. You can also support brain health by lowering stress. Do this by taking time alone to reflect, relax, and release any negative thoughts and feelings that are a part of normal life. Social interactions also support brain health. Rather than Facebook and Twitter, get some face time with friends and family, join a club, or talk to a stranger. These will help you gain perspective and appreciate your place in the world. Lack of Variety Even though you may love that one food that you can’t get enough of, incorporating variety into your diet is important because it will provide you with a variety of nutrients. Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables as much as you can, and be sure to also include nuts, beans and legumes, proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. In the way of beverages, boost your intake of water and other nutritious beverages. As you limit your sugar-sweetened beverage and juice intake, incorporate healthy drinks into your diet. Raw juicing is a great way to add vitamins and minerals from time to time, and drinking a variety of teas can also supercharge your intake of antioxidants.