12 mistakes that prevent you from achieving optimal health.
It seems we are on a never-ending hamster wheel of diets?
We keep going and going but never seem to get anywhere. Can you relate?
What is Meant By Optimal Health?
You’re probably thinking to yourself, I bet I have more than 12 mistakes that are keeping me from optimal health. Starting a diet regimen is work and when we don’t see drastic results immediately we think, this is a waste of time.
Often when we try to make drastic life changes we become overwhelmed and often throw up our hands and give up. Achieving optimal health is a lifelong journey and most of us never “arrive”. The point is, pay attention to these 12 Mistakes and adjust, slowly but surely.
Optimal health starts with conscious efforts that we make in our everyday lives that eventually become habits. Try to take on one new healthy habit a week or month (go at your own pace).
Think of it as building blocks to help you on your health and wellness journey.
What are common mistakes that keep us spinning our wheels? Let me tell you.
What Should I Eat for Optimal Health?
This is a loaded question, especially is the day of fasting, Keto Dieting, Gluten-free, etc. What I can tell you is, there are some basic, fundamental, old-school practices that will never go out of style.
When you adopt these principles, you will always have a solid blueprint that will help steer you in the right direction toward good health.
Not having a plan.
If you want to be healthy it takes planning and discipline (this week’s plan is to take 20 minutes to schedule and plan your meals for the week). Go grocery shopping and plan your meals rather than going on a whim day by day and deciding what’s for dinner on the way home. Foods prepared at home are, more than likely, better for you than foods not prepared at home. In my line of work there is a saying, “failing to plan means planning to fail.” It sounds harsh but the reality is that if we don’t take the time to think about what we are going to eat we will likely be too tired and will grab whatever is easiest. Start simple and when in doubt, a go-to meal can consist of a fresh vegetable, a cooked vegetable and a protein source. Meal served.
Not Drinking Enough Water.
I don’t think I can over emphasize this point. We all have heard how important it is to drink water. As it turns out, water is the largest component of the human body and makes up about 50-70% of body weight. So, that equals roughly 85-119 pounds of someone that weighs 170 lbs. That being said, someone that weighs 170 lbs should really try to drink at least 85 ounces of water daily (that is half of your body weight). If you aren’t already doing this don’t try to drink until you float. For starters, try to put yourself on a regularly scheduled program and drink 16 ounces every 2-3 hours.
An 8-ounce glass of warm water with lemon every morning will help your body cleanse and remove toxins.
Eating too much Protein
Ok, here it is.
The average person requires .8-1.0 g/kg of body weight per day in protein. Athletes need more. It gets very confusing with all of the information and literature out here saying to eat more meat and lose weight, don’t eat meat it’s bad for your health, etc. etc. I understand all of these philosophies and am not going to tell you to go vegan or become a pescatarian (like I am). I am going to suggest that you are mindful of the types of meats and proteins that you consume and how much. Especially if you are a meat lover, let me encourage you to choose lean meats, poultry and eat more fish (salmon) which are easily digested and absorbed. Throw in other sources of incomplete proteins such as fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts and notice how you feel.
Avoiding Green Vegetables
They don’t call Kale a Superfood for nothing!
Leafy greens are as essential for healthy living as oxygen is to breathing. I will cover superfoods in another post because it deserves a full page by itself. But for now, incorporate a salad into either lunch or dinner (or both) every day this week. Does that make you say YUCK? If so, I am sorry.
If you are one of those folks, try adding a small salad (romaine lettuce, spinach, shredded carrots, olives and cucumbers) to a meal three times per week. This is an excellent way to get in several of your serving of fruits and vegetables for the day. For added benefit add a clove of fresh minced garlic to your salad. This will help your body fight common colds and build your immune system.
Make time to move your body.
Take a 30 minute brisk walk every day. Don’t make this a huge ordeal. It can be as simple as walking 15 minutes in one direction then turn around and walk back. If you have a treadmill, simply walk while you watch a favorite television show. Walking your dog regularly is a good option since most dogs love and need exercise too. If you don’t have a treadmill or other means to walk in your immediate environment, find a way to get active. Go dancing, swimming, take a yoga or Pilates class or purchase a workout video. The point is….move.
Not Eating 25-35 grams of Fiber per day
Oooh Fiber how I love thee! Now that you are moving and drinking water let’s add more fiber to your diet. Increase your intake to 30 grams (8 oz of water should be consumed for every 8 grams of fiber). This will help to increase your daily bowel movements, which will help to eliminate other health-related risks. Ask yourself these questions daily; how many times have I moved my bowels today? Have I eaten any fruits and vegetables? How much water did I drink? Did I exercise? Make a conscious decision to add more fiber to your diet. A few sources are oats, legumes, strawberries, citrus fruits, psyllium seeds, bran and vegetables.
FYI, children should eat their age plus 5 grams of fiber per day.
Not Eating your Omegas
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. The body does not produce these fats. Omega-3’s are good for reducing inflammation and reduce blood clotting. They support brain and eye development and act to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Most of us consume enough Omega-6 because that is found in flaxseed, canola and soybean oils as well as green leafy vegetables. Sources of these fatty acids include eggs, cold-water fish and shellfish and salmon. So go ahead and have that seafood dinner.
First let me say that I am not anti-snacking. Depending on the snack, it is not a bad practice to eat a small snack to keep you from feeling food depraved. Try throwing out the partially hydrogenated oil loaded snack treats for something more fresh and wholesome. Snack on a dried fruit and cereal mix, raw veggie sticks, raw almonds or walnuts with dark chocolate.
A great practice is to always keep a non-perishable snack in your car such as nuts, trail mix or dry fiber cereal. One way to help you with this goal is to cut up your fruits or veggies and put them in mason jars for the week. This way it becomes a fresh grab-n-go snack.
Burning the Midnight Oil
Getting at least 9 hours of sleep each night is beneficial on so many levels.
Get into the habit of following a bedtime routine so your body and mind can make the transition to rest. Your body heals and replenishes during sleep. It is easy to find yourself stealing your “quiet time” once dinner is cooked or the kids are asleep. You finally get a peaceful moment to think without interrupted thoughts but let me encourage you to find a way to unwind. Adapt a certain timeframe that is yours for your bedtime. Your body needs to heal and rejuvenate, let it.
Eating More Than You Should
I’d like to call this portion control because that is what it boils down to. This week try to prepare meals to take to work that won’t leave you feeling like you are bloated and are too stuffed to eat another bite. Many grocery stores sell the plastic containers in various sizes; buy yourself a few and portion out your meals until you change your thinking. Sometimes we can eat more than we should just because we don’t want to waste anything or save “this little bit for later.” One thing that can be helpful is chewing your foods slowly to allow for better digestion.
Letting Others Dictate What You Eat
I am talking about fast foods restaurants, diners, deli’s and anything already prepared and packaged. Let’s face it, if you didn’t cook it you don’t know what’s in it. Some things labeled healthy aren’t always as true as it seems. I know this can be difficult because it is convenient. For some it’s ritual – think of the daily visit on the way to work. If you must stop at the drive-thru then select the non-fried, no cream sauces dishes. If the portion is too large, only eat half at one sitting. However, don’t be fooled just because it’s a salad doesn’t make it a “healthy” choice; educate yourself and choose from only a few tried and true carry outs. Being prepared and armed with information is your best defense.
Over Indulgence on Habits
A few vices are ok … but some not. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 2-4 cups per day. Coffee is not the culprit here, the sugar and creamer is. Try drinking your coffee with a very little bit of non-dairy creamer and cut the sugar. I would say to drink it black (but for some this is nearly impossible). Limiting alcohol intake is important if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Alcohol is high in calories and fat. However, red wine does contain the added benefit of antioxidants and resveratrol which may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “happy” cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. One drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men is sensible consumption. Alcohol can be dehydrating so try consuming 8 ounces of water for every 6 ounces of alcohol.
Lastly, I say this in love. If you are a smoker or heavy drinker, make efforts to reduce, limit or quit this habit. It may not feel like it is doing a detriment at the moment but tobacco and other substances are harmful to your health. Habits are hard to break and we can all be addicted to something at some point in our lives. What is important here is that you are aware of the risks and start to take action to make positive changes to live a healthier and longer life.
I’d love for you to leave me a comment to let me know which one of these you are going to adjust on your journey to optimal health!
Have a Beautiful Day!