Don’t Be Afraid, You Can Be Healthy
By: Onyinye Modika
Growing up in America, it can be very difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Everywhere a person looks; there is an advertisement for mounds of varying unhealthy food choices. People become bombarded with fast food restaurants and often times are pulled into the circle of the so -called “delicious” and greasy hamburgers, French fries, and sodas. These are often the key “go to” foods specifically because of affordability, convenience, and speed. But what about health? A lot of times, due to the stress and high demand from high school, college, and work, we Americans become apathetic and unconcerned about the real affects of consistently over indulging in these “go to” foods that cause major bodily disorders like Diabetes, Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Colon Cancer, and so many others. In addition to feeding the body low quality foods, a lot of us Americans are known for our sedentary lifestyles, as well as our inclinations to prevent the body from obtaining the essential sleep that it craves.
Despite the overwhelming temptations to eat junk and rid the body of rest and exercise, it is not an impossible phenomenon to change ones lifestyle and improve heart health and holistic wellbeing. Once any person gets into the habit of truly understanding “the why” of a healthy holistic self transformation, the obstacles that tend to pull and tug at us from every direction lose their powers because it becomes easier to make the right decision once one realizes the worth of his or her body and the significance of taking care of it.
Before embarking on the journey, there are some important steps needed for success. These steps are as follows:
1. Seek God’s help.
Before deciding to do anything, we as people should ask for Gods help. He is the only one that knows what is best for us, and he is the only one that allows for anything to be easy or hard. If being healthy is a true goal of anybody’s, they should ask for Gods help so that he can will the decree that is in favor of the person who is trying to change his life. In this way he starts his transformation off with God’s blessings, and can be successful in achieving his or her goals no matter the set backs.
2. Get Serious, and remain that way.
Getting serious is very important when deciding to make a body transformation because it is supposed to be a commitment that should be maintained for life. It is definitely not easy to be healthy; it takes hard work, but being serious sets your mind right and gives you the tenacity that is crucial to holding through from beginning to end. And, when I say from beginning to end, I mean it literally. Taking care of the body is often looked at as something that is done for a short time period; but this is not a diet, it is not a quick fix, and it is not a sprint. Rather, it is a marathon that must be continued until the end.
3. Develop a strong self-esteem.
If anyone wants to be heart, mind, soul, and body healthy, they MUST love themselves. They must be thankful for the way their body was proportioned. Looking, and comparing oneself to that of another who is also made different is never healthy. It often happens where one person earnestly strives to be like another, and along the process, that person is willing to change their body or genetic makeup into something that is harmful and dangerous to them. Therefore, if you are genetically slender, be proud of it and embrace it, if you are genetically heavier, be proud of it and embrace it. This self-love is important because it is the emotion that can push a person to treat their body right. If a person loves their body they would be more inclined to give the body the true nutrients it needs. In this way, if a person goes “ Hey Sally, I’m starving do you want to go to for pizza?”. Sally replies with a “ No thanks Mark, I really appreciate it, but I think I’ll go to Yes its Organic, and pick up a salad and a piece of fruit”. Why does Sally choose the latter food choice? It could be to save her figure, but it is also because Sally knows that a greasy pizza not only does not provide her body with the essential nutrients she needs, but also provides her with things that are bad for her health too. Even if Sally did want a pizza, in order to save her health, she could make her own. In this way she knows exactly what ingredients are inside of her meal, and she can control what is entering her body. This same principle applies to someone who may be inclined to abstain from food altogether. For a while now, especially for women, it has been the style to be stick thin. In effect, a lot of us try to starve our bodies so we can look like the glamorous models, actors, and actresses that are on top of the “success chain”, or over work our bodies with insane exercises that could possibly be harmful to us. Therefore, instead of believing it is okay to eat 1,000 calories a day, people who love themselves and accept their body proportions will eat the amount of food that is necessary for them, and eat foods from all food groups.
4. Be informed.
How can a person truly improve his or her heart health without knowing what to incorporate or eliminate from their lifestyle? Having a healthy heart means eating right, exercising, resting, and dealing with stress appropriately. How does one eat right? First, one must figure out how much to eat according to activity level, and personal body makeup. Then, one must choose the healthy options from all food groups. This means Greek yogurts, white cheeses, and milks from the dairy section; whole grains, fruits, and vegetables from the carbohydrate section; lean meats and eggs from the protein section; and MUFA’S and some saturated fats from the fats section. It can be noticed that I have included food from every food group. Some may be thinking that I have incorporated some questionable foods in this list. However, all of the foods I have included are necessary elements. What must be realized is that they must be eaten differently. Butter on a piece of whole grain toast is healthier than margarine on a slice of white bread, but that doesn’t mean anyone has the approval to start slabbing hunks of butter on their toast. With proper food, comes proper exercise. It is frequently heard that 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week is sufficient. That always varies from person to person. If you are moving, if your heart is pumping, and if you are sweating for at least 30 minutes consistently throughout the week, then that is healthy for the body. Exercise is essential because it delivers more oxygen to the body, and allows the heart to pump faster. Along with exercise comes rest and relaxation. Exercise is necessary, but the body must also recover with one to three days off depending on the intensity of the exercises that each individual performs. Also, we must get our sleep. Eight hours of sleep is often the average amount everyone recommends. I recommend sleeping earlier, that way ones body can wake up naturally without a disturbance. After trying this a couple times, measure the amount of hours this takes, and strive to maintain this amount consistently. Sleep is important because it allows the body to revive itself in order to perform efficiently when it is wake time again. Finally, having a healthy heart means coping with stress correctly. This is a struggle, but when one becomes stressed, that person should find something that calms him down. It could be taking a walk, watching a movie, sitting down, lying down, praying, or anything. Stress is a big hindrance to heart health because it can lead to serious health problems like stomach ulcers, and headaches from excessive crying. Whoever learns to over come their stress is definitely on their way, or already likely to have a health heart.
5. Build a support system.
Finally, the key to having a healthy heart would mean building a strong support system. A lot of times we as people set goals and try to achieve them alone. Who said there was anything wrong with having help from others? When people who are supporting someone, and assisting him or her work together, they have a big effect in helping him or her achieve his or her goals. Support systems are essential because they give off positive energy. Especially when things become tough, support systems are crucial because they reinforce “the why” factor that is so important for continuing the marathon.
It doesn’t take much to transform a persons’ lifestyle, but the few things it does require are high demanding responsibilities that must be followed, taken seriously, and maintained. Fortunately, one will find that as they continues striving for good health, as time passes by, it gets easier and easier where it becomes natural. Once that stage is reached, and the benefits of eating right, exercising, resting and relaxing truly manifest in a person’s life, that person will be grateful for their transformation and hopefully eternally motivated to continue until the end.