A few small lifestyle choices can put you back on the road to fitness
Attention to health is certainly one of life’s greatest hindrances, the battle of choice! A walk to the top of the hill after lunch or a comfortable armchair by the fire? Chocolate mousse or cherries?
Which will you choose?
We are faced with such decisions all day long, every day of the year so how should we control the insatiable urges that are presented to us in our efforts to be healthy. Through the process of choosing, the taste buds start to imagine the flavour, sweetness and texture of a particular food – by this time it is too late. The healthy decision needs to be made in advance to enable us to focus on it and block out enticing alternatives.
Whether you think you are stressed, not exercising enough, eating a diet too high in fat or simply feel unhealthy – do something about it. Simply decide (having read this column) to add some healthy choices to your life.
Make one healthy choice and you will want to make another because they make you feel good and as you begin to take control you will feel fantastic, even powerful.
Each day, I try to make healthy choices 85% of the time, I have made it a ‘must’ to be healthy as a result of learning the hard way. For years I ignored the niggling voice inside me constantly talking to me (“drink less coffee, stop smoking, do some exercise, try a yoga class..”), and then it happened… aged 41, I developed breast cancer, the biggest wake up call we can have and a massive fear for everyone of us as the statistics rise, now 1 in 3 face this horrendous diagnosis. It felt like I had been given the biggest kick up the backside and from that cold and terrifying moment, I made the decision to look after myself. Two major operations and six months of chemotherapy, I have now paid the price and have learnt…. being healthy is a part of life each and every day, it is not so difficult, it is a mere decision. Accepting this responsibility is crucial to our well being and the rewards are plentiful.
On the flip side, worrying about health leads to stress, stress leads to poor health choices and poor health choices lead to greater stress and round and round it goes. Break the cycle by making one healthy choice today and stick to it. If it all seems too much, if you do not know where to start then choose from the list, simple and straightforward suggestions. Choose something you know you can do easily to start with and set a reminder to ensure you remember each day.
You might need to be a little adventurous, try new things. Taste buds change very quickly (within 4-5 days) so if you cut out sugar for example, your taste buds will want less and less sugar after a matter of days. It is all obvious stuff but if you are short of ideas…
- Replace coffee with herbal tea, water or a juice;
- Instead of cakes and biscuits, have a piece of fruit;
- Choose a salad over a sandwich;
- Choose fish or chicken instead of red meat;
- Brown bread instead of white;
- Walk up the escalator versus standing on the right;
- Try a fitness class or join a health club;
- Choose low fat products instead of full fat;
- Aim to eat 3-4 different fruits and 8-10 vegetables each day (one salad can easily contain this amount)
- Allow more time in planning travel and reduce stress from hurrying;
- Try acupuncture, reiki or reflexology to name but a few;
When you do feel stressed, breathe. Long deep breathing really works; breathe in for 4 (seconds), making sure your tummy inflates, hold it in for 4 and then let it out for 4 slowly, hold it out for 4 and repeat again. Just try it. You can do this sitting at your desk.
Allow yourself 10-15 minutes of relaxation every day, switch off – no phone, no kids – just you.
Remember, if you don’t succeed the first time just try again, with each morning comes another chance to choose differently.
Katie Sherren spent 12 years in the City before qualifying as dietician and personal trainer