While taking a drive in my friend’s car, the inevitable discussion of nutrition and lifestyle habits arose—which is kind of expected for me, these days. I don’t like to tell people how to live their life, or profess that I am the greatest at what I do…in anything. In reality, a lot of my conversations in terms of “skills” and “things I do” center around me deflecting my abilities or flat out putting myself down.
“Wow, you are good at basketball!” No, I only can shoot the three occasionally, and I’m streaky. Oh, and I can’t drive the ball in the paint for my life, because I’m too small and skinny. You’ll kill me down low.
“Wow, you’re dope at breaking!” Nah, there are peers that are much better than me. I just want to be the best at what I do. Really, I give credit to the guys who came before me—they set the precedent for me to express my originality.
“Wow good job at [insert thing here]!” And you can count on it that you’ll never see me do that again.
Back to the car ride—we got to talking about why I’m so overly disciplined and conscious about my eating habits. Suffice to say, she hit the nail on the head: to me, control over my urges for food shows control over my urges in life. It’s a way for me to affirm, to myself and others, my level of discipline. And when I do that, I can show others a relatable piece of hard work and commitment; if I can ingrain self-control into my life, so can you.
So then the question that always comes up, in that conversation and others, is this: “What else can we do to be more healthy…instead of just be super mindful about food?”
The answer is: quite a bit, and they aren’t nearly as hard.
Before I start, I would just like to say that these are all merely suggestions. Like I said, I never intend to tell people exactly tit-for-tat how to live their life, or tackle their goals. There are always a million ways to get to the finish line—never is our road a straight one. Or an easy one.
Feel free to let me know if you have any other suggestions, and comment!
Get your alarm far away…or use a sleep app
Besides watching what we eat, I really think one of the hardest things we all struggle with is the first task of the day: getting up out of bed! The covers are wrapping you in their warm embrace; your body temperature is just right; the body is relaxed—it’s a really, really nice feeling. Which makes it that much harder to get even half your body out from under the sheets. Who needs food or hygiene? Who needs productivity when you can simply stay cozy all day?
One way to make it just a tad easier on yourself in the AM is to put your alarm clock as far away from you as possible. That goes for before you go to sleep too. Numerous doctors and specialists have agreed that watching the clock before sleeping—or worrying about the exact time you go to bed—can heighten insomnia. Instead of letting yourself relax and let go of things, watching the clock keeps you clinging to one more thing that “needs to get done”: going to sleep at the right time.
To tack on to that, I would suggest trying a sleep app. I prefer Sleep as Android; not only does it do a great job of measuring activity while you sleep to indicate if you’re awake or in deep sleep, it also gives you a ton of helpful statistics like time of sleep and your sleep deficit. If you so choose, the app even gives the option of reminding you—based on your over-time sleeping habits—when you should get to bed. It has “sleeping lullabies” (sounds to help you sleep) too, if you need those to help lull you to bed.
Find an alternative to “active” activity
If you have been reading this blog since it began, you are probably already aware that I love fitness, and I love exercising. I’m a dancer—a “break dancer” at that—so naturally I love being active, and pushing my limits physically. Exercise and physical fitness has been proven to be a good idea to partake in, especially if you want to, as Star Trek fans would say, “Live long and prosper”.
We can’t always expect to do something that makes us sweat, or makes our muscles tire, though. Just as much as our muscles need to be used, so too must our other assets—our creativity, our imagination; our minds!
According to an article in 2015 by The Huffington Post titled, “6 Science-Backed Reasons to Go Read a Book Right Now”, numerous studies have concluded reading to be a beneficial activity for everyone: a study in 2009 by the University of Sussex found reading to be the most effective way to overcome stress; reading helps slow mental decline as we age; and last but certainly not least interesting, reading increases our empathetic capacity. Reading is a great alternative “active” activity, but there are countless others too.
Meditative yoga is a fantastic way to release tension and stress. Listening to music can evoke an assortment of different emotions and or rekindle fond memories. Journaling allows us to reflect on our thoughts and inner workings, while also helping us retain memory. And those are only just a few—you can certainly find an alternative that works for you.
Adopt an attitude of optimism
It’s really easy to succumb to negativity in our lives. It’s kind of like those repeated warnings in the airport: “When you see something, say something”—you see a red flag and you feel compelled to focus on it. Like a bull against a matador, sometimes we get so focused on the red cape waving around that we forget about the spear that is going to go into our sides. Once those spears get stabbed into us, and the blood starts coming out, it gets hard to stop. It can be overwhelming at times, as if it will never end and more damage is piling up on us by the day.
We can refuse negativity though. In reality, negativity is a choice—it’s just a choice that is easily read.
Finding, even in the darkest of situations, the positives that are there or that will come out of it is healthy. Sure, we should from time to time come to understand the bad parts of our circumstances—no one is saying that doing that is wholly, in itself the worst possible decision. But if we’re always going out of our way to find the worst in any given day, then we’re openly inviting the worst outcomes to ourselves.
Even if we miss an appointment with our friend, we can always say, “Hey, at least we can reschedule and they’re still my friend.” If we received a lower mark on a review for school or work, we can at least say, “Well I can learn from this and do better next time.”
There’s always positivity to take from every situation.
Drink water…lots of it
This one might seem a little obvious, but if you really want to be healthy, you have to understand how important water is to you. No, I’m not just saying that because everyone knows over 50% of your body is made of water. Water really effects a number of things—it’s not just there because science says you’re made of it.
Are you having problems with digestion and going to the bathroom? Water is factually shown to help digestion—which aids, of course, to your bathroom breaks. It’s not all just about keeping junk food out of your system, or eating a lot of fiber (although those help). Do you feel awake at night because you’re hungry? Chances are you aren’t actually hungry—you’re just thirsty and need water.
Is your skin dry, flaky, tight or wrinkly? According to University of Wisconsin Health (and others too), you need to drink more water to fix that problem.
Water solves more than just those issues, too. It’s an awesome necessity.
These were only a few suggestions we can all adopt to continue leading healthier lifestyles in mind and body. If you have any others, feel free to comment below.
The way we approach ourselves is generally an indicator of how we will continue to approach our lives.
Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach