In 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV) it says, "Everything is permissible for me -- but not everything is beneficial...." I suppose we can treat our bodies any way we want to and fuel them with anything we want to, but it may not be beneficial. I mean, really, have you ever thought about whether it is actually beneficial to eat the whole bag of cookies? What? You've never eaten a whole bag of cookies!?! Most of the time, I think we are just scrambling through life, trying to cram everything into our over-packed days. We rarely stop to think how our lifestyle is going to affect us longterm, or that our lifestyle is training our children. What they learn from us can make things easier or harder for them when they are adults. Sobering thought, I know. But it is a thought we must be brave enough to consider if we want the best results. Proverbs 14:8 (NIV) says, "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, ..." In other words, wise people think about the consequences of what they are doing and make changes accordingly. If you are among the "Bag-O-Cookies Club" then you are in the right place, and there's no better time to make positive changes than now. Besides, these are easy. Not like my Kicking the Sugar Habit post. That was hard. So without further ado, here are my Four Easy Health Tips: 1. Drink Your Water -- You need real, actual water. A lot of water. The average person needs about 2-3 quarts of it a day. Other beverages don't hydrate you like the real thing. Even tea has a diuretic effect and can dehydrate you if that is all you drink. Here are some factoids you can use to impress your friends: Your body is about 70% water; Your muscles are about 75% water; Your brain cells are about 85% water; Your blood is about 82% water; Even your bones are about 25% water. So unless you want to shrink your brain and shrivel up like a prune, go have a glass of water. How much should you drink? Well, I am so glad you asked, because now I'm gonna make you do some math. Divide your weight by 2 (in pounds -- if you're from the UK, I'm afraid I don't know the equation in stone.) And that's it. That is how many ounces of water you should be drinking each day. So if you weigh 120, you need to drink 60 oz. If you are 220, you need to drink 110 oz. Doing this one tip alone is often enough to flush and detox your system. Did you know that we often mistake our thirst and think we are hungry, so we eat more (then we weigh more and need to drink even more water...sigh...) So you may find you are less hungry once you have re-hydrated your system. 2. Get Some Exercise -- I know, this one is hard, and I said these would be easy. It is true, however, that we can prevent or reverse all kinds of health issues just by getting some movement in our lives. Regular exercise helps prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer, helps balance hormones, lowers stress, improves varicose veins, improves joint function and arthritis (when done properly) and detoxes our system (perspiring might not be lady-like, but it is probably the best detox-er available). You don't need me to tell you that exercise burns calories and makes your clothes fit better. I really need to dedicate a full post on this one. There are lots of tools to help the couch potatoes reform (me). But for now, I will say that anything is better than nothing. If you are a dedicated couch potato, just walking across the room to switch the TV channels may be about all you can handle at first. But do that. It really does help. Go take a walk -- it's beautiful this time of year. If you are ready for more, then you probably don't need me to tell you how to exercise. I think I will dedicate a future post to this. Your worth it! 3. Eat Close to the Ground -- Hang around here very long and you are sure to hear more about this one. Make the switch from what I lovingly call "Frankenfoods" (foods that have been processed and altered beyond recognition) to real, whole foods that nourish your body. You will improve your health. You don't have to win any races to make a positive difference. Anything is better than nothing. You might start with a decision not to eat foods with High Fructose Corn Syrup or Aspartame, or switching from white to wheat. You might opt to include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Whatever you choose to do will be a step in the right direction. Whole foods should taste wonderful. You are replacing substitutes for the real thing. Real butter instead of margarine, real maple syrup instead of LogCabin, real vanilla instead of imitation, and once I've totally sold you on real food, you get to have freshly ground flour in your bread instead of the stale stuff from the store. Yum. If your whole foods taste like cardboard, get a new recipe.
4. Get Your Shut-Eye -- Okay, okay. I admit it. I am a worst offender on this one. I get up early with kiddos and stay up late to finish my work. But I also know first hand the very negative effects this can have on your body. I am learning to be more efficient all the time, though. I now get 6-7 hours each night -- up froman average of 2-4 hours. I think more clearly, have more creative ideas and solutions, and I am more patient. The physical benefits have been astonishing. I have more energy, I don't feel stressed all the time, many unexplainable aches and pains have disappeared, I don't get sick when others around me do, my skin looks better, and I weigh less. Gotta love that.
So how much sleep is optimal? Studies show that the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, with the ideal being about 8 hours. Any less and you open the door to a whole host of increased risk factors and evidence shows that lack of rest may shorten life span by 8-10 years. Too much sleep and you can wake up feeling sluggish and groggy. So have a good night's sleep.