Here is a list of basic rules I've come up with to achieve menos in my life. Healthy living is a much more complex topic, of course, but this list makes a good starting point.
1) Avoid smoking and/or abusing drugs or alcohol. This one is obvious, but a lot of people fail to achieve this important step to improving their health.
2) Get between 7 & 9 hours of sleep per night. I know plenty of people who claim to get by on six hours of sleep a night or less. You might "get by" with less, but the research is overwhelming - adequate sleep is very important to good health and energy. Lack of adequate sleep not only makes you tired, but it also impairs your concentration, motivation, memory, and fine motor skills, as well as negatively impacts your mood. Not only that, but a long-term lack of adequate sleep compromises your immune system and plays a role in developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type II diabetes, and even several forms of cancer. Getting enough sleep regular basis really is a must for your health.
3) Be physically active everyday. Many experts recommend at least one hour of moderate exercise a day, at least five days a week. What is moderate exercise? It needs to be vigorous enough to cause you to break out in a slight sweat. Walking, hiking, swimming, and bike riding are excellent, ways to exercise, as are gardening and yard work (use a push mower - your riding mower doesn't count as exercise). Try to mix in some Resistance training, too. Resistance training typically means weight lifting, but also includes exercises utilizing rubber exercise bands or even your own body (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, leg squats) to cause muscles to contract and expand. Don't want to join a gym? Me neither. Get yourself a set of exercise bands and/or dumbbells (free weights) to use them at home!
NOTE: Use common sense - if you are elderly, pregnant, badly out-of-shape, or have a serious health condition, please get your doctor's advice before starting an exercise program.
4) Eat Healthy. An obvious step, but one that is difficult because so many people have radically different ideas of what are healthy foods. Worse, many of those varying ideas are based not on facts, but on ideology and/or self-interest (think $). Since being diagnosed with diabetes (as well as high blood pressure, low testosterone, and mild anemia) almost five years ago, I've done a lot of research into what actually is a healthy diet. Here is how I now eat:
I've eliminated all grains (including rice and corn), white potatoes, and refined sugar from my diet. Naturally, this means I no longer eat sweets and most junk foods. Instead of sweets, I may occasionally have a small amount of fruit (berries are especially healthy and tasty), but I am careful about how much I eat because of the naturally high amount of sugar in most fruits. I do not drink fruit juice (way too much sugar).
Healthy fats make up the largest percentage of my diet. Examples of healthy fats include eggs, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring, trout, mackerel, and shrimp, among others), avocados, butter, cheese, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, most nuts, olive oil, and coconut oil.
Eggs have become the staple of my diet. I eat two eggs for breakfast each morning and usually have a hard-boiled egg for an evening snack. In addition, I occasionally eat eggs at other meals. I typically eat two dozen or more eggs a week, and have for the last five years. Yet my cholesterol numbers and blood pressure are now both well within the normal range without any medication. The bad reputation eggs have comes from on extremely outdated science from the 60s and 70's, yet is so ingrained into the cultural psyche that even most doctors repeat that nonsense today.
I keep my carbohydrate intake relatively low. The carbs I do eat are the high-quality carbs such as the cruciferous vegetables, which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and various greens (spinach, turnip, mustard, kale, collard, etc). These are extremely nutritious and have only a mild impact on my blood sugar. I eat a lot of different slaws (all made without sugar) and have several favorite recipes.
Various lettuces, summer (yellow) squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic, peppers, and radishes are also nutritious and have only a mild effect on my blood sugar. Tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and most beans are also okay, but have a somewhat greater impact on my blood sugar, so I am especially careful about serving size with them.
5) Consume much less refined sugar. I already mentioned reducing sugar, but it bears repeating. Our modern American diet suffers from an extreme
excess of sugar. A major contributor to obesity, heart disease, high
blood pressure, type II diabetes, and cancer is the high rate of sugar
consumption in all its forms, especially high fructose corn syrup. Cut
back drastically on the amount of sugar you consume, and when you do use
sweeteners, prefer natural sources such as fruit & honey.
6) Make regular visits to a doctor, dentist, and eye-doctor. Had I followed this advice, my diabetes would have been caught much sooner, before my eye problems developed, and would have saved me from the 80+ eye injections and five laser surgeries it took to save my eyesight. Find a doctor you like and are comfortable with, hopefully one who takes a holistic approach to your health care, and believes as strongly in preventing disease as he or she does in curing disease. What constitutes "regular check-ups" depends on your age & health conditions and should be mutually decided on by you and your doctor.
- Be a life long learner. Always seek to expand your knowledge base. Read books. Take classes. Watch documentaries. Visit museums and historical sites. Stay up on current affairs. Work crossword puzzles and logic puzzles. Learn a new language.
- Deal with any addictions or mental health issues as soon as possible. See my article Prepper's Guide to Mental Health and Emotional Preparedness.
- Develop your relationships with others - your spouse, kids, family, friends, neighbors...
- Find your purpose in life, and pursue it with all you've got!
- Get right with God. Don't roll your eyes. This is important. Develop your relationship with God. Read the Bible and pray daily. Go to Church. Follow God's wisdom, not worldly ways.