People are constantly bombarded with images of a “perfect” body. You’ve no doubt been told to avoid the messages sent to you about what a body should be or should look like, but it can never be said enough! The truth of the matter is that you don’t need to be as thin as a supermodel to be healthy. In fact, being that thin for many people is the opposite of healthy. It’s not about having a perfect body, but about finding what is perfect for your own body. Here are some of the factors you can use to judge just how perfect your body is for you and how to understand the bigger picture of your overall health, regardless of the size of your pants.
Focus on Health
Weight is really not a great way to gauge your individual health. In fact, the number on the scale can be misleading. There are so many factors that can impact your weight – salt intake, dehydration, the scale you’re using – that you need to learn not to let the scale impact your efforts to work toward and maintain better health. The arbitrary number on your scale says nothing about your mental health, your physical fitness, your risk of disease, or other aspects of wellness that are important to your overall health.
The real problem with some people’s obsession with weight is how it makes them view their bodies. You simply cannot tie weight to health and avoid shame associated with the scale. Hyperfocus on numbers makes thinner people less concerned about their health (when they shouldn’t) and heavier people feeling as if they’re failing in some way (also when they shouldn’t).
Let’s try to forget about the scale and discuss what you should truly focus on if you seek to be healthier.
Diet is probably one of the most important factors of individual health because the old adage is true: You are what you eat! A person who eats McDonald’s every day isn’t going to be as healthy as someone who eats fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains each day, no matter their weight – it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.
Pay attention to what you eat, making sure to avoid processed foods and getting enough of each food group every single day. Don’t fall victim to fad diets that cut out a major food group, either. Remember, your body needs carbohydrates to function, so choosing quality, complex carbohydrates is essential to good health and function.
Try not to view eating as an all-or-nothing approach. Eating salads all day every day is no guarantee of good health (have you looked at the fat, sugar, and calorie content of salad dressings lately?). Eat when you’re hungry, stop eating when you’re full and don’t beat yourself up when you have a treat. You’re human, after all, and chocolate is the nectar of the Gods and in some cases (such as with dark chocolate) is actually good for you!
You have to get that body moving! It may be true that exercise guidelines are pretty generic, but there are some ways you can tell if you’re getting enough of it. Sure, you can get the 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per day recommended, but can you:
- Effortlessly touch your toes – Seems simple, right? If you’re flexible and your muscles are loose, then this should be no problem.
- Sleep well – If you’re getting enough physical activity in your day, then your quality of sleep should be good and falling to sleep at night a breeze.
- Climb stairs – Most everyone gets a little winded when climbing a flight of stairs, but if you feel as if your lungs are going to explode or your legs are going to give out after doing it, then you may not be in as healthy as you think you are.
- Do push-ups – Muscular endurance is a great indicator of health, so completing push-ups with proper form is a great indication of how good your upper body strength and endurance are.
To be healthy you must be active, there’s no way around it. Make sure to work even just a little movement, such as an after-dinner walk, into your daily routine. It will make a big difference in your overall health and help you to feel better about your body too!
Sleep has already been briefly touched upon, but it’s so important that it deserves a second mention! The activities of daily life take a toll on the body and it uses sleep to help revitalize and rebuild. Erratic sleep patterns can impact concentration, weaken your immune system, and cause you to overeat.
Adults should get between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. You should also strive to create a bedtime routine for yourself where you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day (including weekends!) and turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bed. Try to relax before you tuck yourself in for the night and you may find you have an easier time falling asleep.
Let’s not forget that a major component of health is happiness. You could have the best job in the world, an exercise routine that excites you, an eating routine that’s tasty, and feel refreshed when you wake up each morning, but if you’re not happy, then what’s the point?
When you’re happy, a healthy lifestyle will come easily. You’ll also find you’re healthier, as happiness boosts your immune system to help you fight off illness and your digestion is on point — all because you’re happy. Happy people are less likely to suffer from insomnia and better sleep helps you to be a better frame of mind to face the day’s challenges. Find what gives you joy and go after it – reasonably, of course. Losing all your money at the casino probably isn’t a long-term recipe for happiness and health, even if you have some fun while doing it.
A Word about Body Mass Index
When you go to the doctor and face the scale, chances are you’re given a number based on your weight and height called your body mass index or BMI. The BMI is how obesity is diagnosed in the medical community, but people are starting to understand the flaws of the BMI more each day.
For starters, the BMI is too narrow. It takes only two factors into account – height and weight. This tool can be great for tracking weight trends in large populations, but when applied to individual people it begins to fail. Case in point: Olympic athletes often have obese BMIs due to the amount of muscle they have on their frames because muscle weighs more than fat. Does that sound like an accurate assessment of a person who is in such good shape, they’re an Olympian?
You shouldn’t let your BMI number serve as the only indicator of your health. The BMI is limited, as it only looks at one small slice of the overall health pie (mmm…pie) of an individual. Don’t let it shape how you feel about your health and wellness or how you feel about your own body.
Work On Self-Image
It’s important to make peace with your body. You may look at others and be envious of different aspects of their looks, but don’t let that impact how you feel about yourself. Focus on your health and maintaining a healthy, livable body. That’s the secret to success, happiness, and peace!
During stressful times, we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Whether it’s big projects at work, trying to loss that stubborn weight, saving money or anything that makes you feel like you’re failing. We can be SO hard on ourselves that it causes depression, anger and self-abusive tendencies. Stop being so hard on yourself today. Know that failure can happen, but putting yourself down doesn’t make getting back on the horse any easier. Take these steps into consideration next time you’re feeling down on yourself.
- Life is one big learning experience. Everything you do teaches you a lesson. Stand tall, recover and move on when in the face of failure.
- Stop comparing your situation to others. Not one situation is identical, we all handle our problems in different ways. Be at your own pace and don’t try to be like anyone else.
- Stand up for yourself, if you feel what you are doing is right, don’t let someone else tear you down, respectively stand up for yourself. The more confidence you express, the easier others can see your side.
- Learn from criticism. You can’t ignore or get angry at criticism. Everyone dishes it out, so do you. Let it happen and take it as a positive.
- Take pride in your weaknesses. We all have something we don’t like about ourselves or our mannerisms, doesn’t mean we beat ourselves up for them. Take those faults and spin them in a positive way. Be proud of being human.
- Dwelling on the past will dig a big hole that you will struggle to get out of. Seriously, dwelling on something you did wrong days, months, years ago will drive you into a deep depression. Instead of saying “why did I do that?” say “ok, that happened, let’s not do that again and instead do this…”
- Be smart. Think before you act. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with yourself, step back write it all down and assess the damage and stress. Think smarter not faster.
- Remove negative energy from your life. Whether it’s people, objects, situations, if it’s causing you to hate on yourself then maybe you should re-think how and where you spend your time.
Emotions can Cause Weight Gain?
Overweight? Gaining Weight? Not sure what has caused the pounds to pack on? Most people think overeating, poor diet and lack of exercise is the cause but ever think it’s how you are feeling mentally? Have you ever asked yourself “am I happy?” or “where was the last time I was happy?” Emotional eating is a very common cause of weight gain and obesity. Your emotional and mental health are very important to your overall health. Some people don’t make the connection that the reason your gaining weight is your emotional health. 75% of over eating is caused by emotional stress, that is a problem. Emotional eating is when you eat because you need comfort, whether you are sad, stressed, lonely or bored. Eating “comfort food” can help numb the bad feelings and give you something to occupy yourself and give you happiness.
What Causes Emotional Eating?
Do you find comfort in food because of social situations and anxiety, conflicts or just depression? Are you bored or lonely? When I was a child they only way to get seconds was to eat faster than my brothers, so I grew accustomed to eating fast which can cause you to over eat. By the time my stomach showed signs of feeling full I had already over indulged. Going out to social events with free food, or to restaurants where everyone gets appetizers, entrees and desserts. These events cause you to eat to fit in with the group and also over eat. When everyone at your table is eating unhealthy entrees of course you are influenced to make the same bad choices. Sometimes a daily routine causes us to overeat. Scheduled lunch breaks, busy schedules where you know you won’t be able to eat for hours so you over compensate now. Sometimes we are so busy that we forget to eat and then starve causing us to scarf down as much food as possible. Emotions in general cause us to overeat. If you’re excited and joyous going out to celebrate you are more prone to eating fun foods than a salad or sandwich. We can get upset and emotional that we crave sweets and sugary mixed drinks. I know women will tend to crave chocolate and salty snacks when emotional. If you are stressed you may binge eat to relax your nerves. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed and stressed I like to disengage with a snack because it relaxes my mind and nerves, it’s a reason to chill out. If you are lonely it’s very common to overeat. Make food for two and then eat for two. Portion control is very difficult when alone. If I am with someone I will eat less and have that distraction to not eat more. If I am alone I will get seconds and eat snacks just to feel occupied. It’s even harder to not binge eat when you have health issues like low blood sugar. If my blood sugar is low I feel horrible and very weak. The faster I get sugar in my system, the quicker I will feel better. This is when I scarf down a candy bar and chug a soda. All this sugar can be addictive. The sugar can boost your endorphins making you feel high and happy. When this high is gone you crave even more sugar.
When Emotional Eating Causes Serious Problems
From a psychological standpoint, emotional eating can cause a lot of problems like eating disorders. Say you are feeling fat and upset for over indulging. So, you starve yourself from all food. Then you feel sick and deprived so you binge eat. This makes you feel great but then you quickly feel regret and anger which causes the cycle to start again. In extreme cases the regret and anger can cause the purging of all the food consumed. This can become a very dangerous and life-threatening situation.
How to Control your Emotional Eating Habits
The easiest way to control yourself from over indulging is to be mindful of what, when and where you eat. If you eat fast then be aware of each bite, calm yourself and enjoy it, there is no race. If you eat more when alone, then occupy your mind, be active and be busy. If you need to eat or indulge keep only healthy snacks in the house so you’re never packing on the calories and fat. Be aware of portion size when eating in a group. Sometimes we get distracted and eat way more than we should. If you have a small plate then there’s no way you can over eat. If stress is causing you to over eat then go for a walk instead, take a bath, listen to music. There’s many things you can do to not overeat. If you have that strong of a need to consume something, then drink a glass of water. When it comes to low blood sugar, a soda and candy bar doesn’t have to be your only savior, try an apple or a glass of orange juice instead. All in all, the things you need to be aware of when tempted to over indulge is to slow down. Think about what you are feeling and eating. Be patient, don’t jump to food as the first option. If you over eat it’s not the end of the world, you will slip up. Still feeling like your emotions are getting the best of you? Is anxiety the reason behind your eating habits and weight gain? Check out my previous article, it will help you learn to suppress your anxiety.
So, Avocado is one of the tastiest foods, you can eat it plain, spread it on breads and crackers, add it to a salad or a dish, make it a Dip and even drink it in a smoothie. This “Superfood” is loaded with good fats, and vitamins! Now that we know Avocados are tasty and healthy what are the main reasons to add it to your diet? First of all, they are high in monounsaturated fats that help fight heart disease and reduce cholesterol. Avocados have a ton of antioxidants which help protect your cells, and they are loaded with vitamins like K, C, B5, B6 and E and potassium. This is a big selling point, Avocados contain protein! They also contain folate which is helpful for pregnant women. Avocados can also be used as a healthier and less fattening oil or butter. Want to go a step further than eating an Avocado? They can also benefit your hair! It acts as a moisturizing, shine-boosting hair mask. It can help boost hair growth, strengthen and soften hair. Avocados also help maintain healthy, smooth skin from drying out. Other than it being a tasty treat and delicious additive to any meal, Avocados can do a wonder to your body. Add it to your next grocery list!
Vitamin B-12 is very important to your overall health, it helps maintain normal brain and nervous system functions. A B-12 deficiency can be caused by anemia, gastritis, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Lupus and other Auto-Immune Diseases. You get most of your B-12 in meats and dairy products. If you follow a vegan diet you may be B-12 deficient. Symptoms of a Vitamin B-12 deficiency are
- Pale Skin
- Afternoon Exhaustion and Fatigue
- Memory Issues
- Weakness, Tired Body, Muscle Fatigue
- Blurred-Spotty Vision
- Pins and Needles, Numbness
- Anxiety and Depressive Mood-Swings
If you have many of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor. You will receive blood tests to properly diagnose a deficiency and receive proper vitamin dosage. If you go with this deficiency for too long you can develop nerve damage so getting your mind and body in check is important.