I have a theory about what causes most of the problems in our lives (including health problems) - and since it's my blog and every blogger should espouse at least a few crazy theories, here's mine:
Every problem in the world is caused by a lack of love.
Science would dictate that a theory should be tested, and so I shall test it on myself. You can extrapolate this test to fit your own circumstances and see if it doesn't explain the problems in your life.
My biggest life problem is that I have not yet achieved self-sufficiency. I have to depend on others (jobs, boyfriend, family, etc) for the money I need to buy food, clothes, shelter, etc. The greatest obstacle to achieving self-sufficiency is lack of a fan base (let's face it, books sell because you've got fans you buy the books, promote the books, and stand in lines posting Twitter updates about standing in line to buy your book). The greatest obstacle to achieving a fan base is poor time management - preferring to watch episodes of Star Trek via Amazon Instant Video rather than writing, blogging, commenting, editing, etc. The primary cause of poor time management: lack of love. Because real love motivates, real love energizes, real love drives self-discipline.
Even my health problems can be explained by a lack of love. I quit watching my diet for 6 months because I loved indulging in fast comforts rather than loving my body. I quit exercising consistently 18 months ago because I loved pleasing my boss at my day job more than I loved (or respected) my body's need for movement. I quit exercising self-control because I loved to worry about selling my house more than I loved providing my body with the nutrition it required.
Thanks to a lack of love, I'm 25 pounds heavier. I have neck and upper back pain. My body is utterly out of shape and muscles and bones hurt that never have in the past. I crave sugar, fat and carbs every hour. I would rather indulge in a bowl of ice cream and episode of Star Trek than write a blog while munching an apple. A lack of love is devastating.
Thanks to my collapse in self-discipline, it's been tough re-energizing myself to make some important healthful changes. Thankfully, I've discovered a few easy tips for everyone looking to become a bit more healthful with only marginal self-discipline. (And for all the crazies out there, use your head, common sense - and consult a physician before following tips in this or ANY blog you read!)
- Tip 1: Start with water. Your body craves water and requires more than most of us bother to drink. Not flavored waters, not tea, not milk, not soda, not Gatorade. Water. So make a glass of water your first activity when you roll out of bed. Seriously, go straight to the kitchen and drink a full glass of water. It helps wake your digestive system and kick-start your body for the day. Don't give me that garbage about water upsetting your stomach first thing in the morning - get over it!
- Tip 2: Shower in the morning. You know how you shower the night before just so you can sleep an extra 20 minutes in the morning? Or how you need to slowly wake up for an hour watching TV? STOP IT! Taking a warm shower in the morning temporarily raises your blood pressure, helping to jump-start your body (including your metabolism). So after you drink a glass of water, jump in the shower before you eat breakfast.
- Tip 3: Eat breakfast. I don't care if your stomach doesn't like breakfast. I don't care if you're short on time because you missed the alarm. I don't care if you're half hungover. Eat a healthy breakfast within 30 minutes of waking. Your body needs fuel after having rested 6-8 hours and it's simply unreasonable to ask your body to function without food. Besides, eating breakfast also gives your metabolism a lift. Oh, and remember that glass of water you drank? Try to give it 20 minutes before you eat breakfast (just enough time for a warm shower).
- Tip 4: Eat bad at lunch. Actually, it's better if you don't eat bad period, but the best time to chow down on refined sugars, fried foods, and buttered bread is at lunch. Your blood sugar levels are not as vulnerable as first thing in the morning and at mid-day you still have at least 8 hours to utilize those sugars, fats and carbs. So if you want a bowl of ice cream or a sticky bun or (gasp!) Big Mac, devour it at lunch.
- Tip 5: Move every hour. That means you get up and do something: climb a flight of stairs, vacuum the living room, walk around the building, stretch, cut the grass, pull some weeds, chase the cats, walk the dog, play catch with Junior, whatever. Just move at least once an hour for at least 5 minutes (better if you can move for longer). Your muscles (especially your all-important heart) are not meant to remain inactive for long stretches of time - they get lazy and complacent. Muscles get cramped, blood-flow decreases, and breathing becomes shallow. So take 5 and move.
- Tip 6: Walk briskly for 30 minutes 3 times per week. Guess what? For most people, that's sufficient exercise to combat heart disease and obesity. Don't expect to drop a bunch of weight or magically develop a 6-pack, but brisk walking for 30 minutes gives you a good cardio workout and burns a surprising number of calories. And if you want to be really nice to yourself, walk within 30 minutes of having eaten - your body will make better use of the food you have consumed and your digestive track seems to function better after a walk. Oh, and how brisk is "brisk"? That depends on the individual, but you should be slightly out of breath if carrying on a conversation, but still able to do so without slowing your walk.
- Tip 7: Track what you eat. I'm not talking about counting calories (although recent studies have shown that counting calories is an effective way to maintain body weight). I'm talking about keeping a log of what you are putting into your body. It teaches self-discipline. It keeps you honest. It forces you to see all those unloving foods your forcing your body to deal with. So download a free app (there are plenty to choose from) and track what you're eating. Then decide if there are any changes you should make out of love for your body.
- Tip 8: Measure your food. Yes, that means get out your measuring cups and portion out your food. There's no better way to know how much food you're consuming every day than to measure it. For me, this is key because I have a serious problem with over-indulgence. I will "guestimate" my idea of a "little" bowl of ice cream. Or my idea of a small serving of pasta. Or a little hummus. But I don't enjoy ice cream any more if I have 2 cups or 1/2 cup - I have to learn to appreciate the flavor and treat in any size. Oh, and eventually the goal is to have developed enough self-discipline to be able to do away with the measuring cups - but don't rush it.