Getting your Body Healthy
Drink enough water. In general, adults should consume between 11 and 15 cups (2.7-3.7 litres) of liquid every day. This amount, however, includes the liquid (including water) that you receive from all sources, including food. The general guideline to ensure you’re drinking enough liquids is to prevent thirst, which you often don’t notice until you are dehydrated. Jumpstart the habit by having a drink with every meal. Any type of liquid can be included in this daily consumption, including milk, tea, coffee, or soup.
- You may need liquid, but that doesn’t mean that every liquid is beneficial. Drink caffeinated beverages and sugary fruit juice in moderation, and skip sugary sodas completely.
2Learn to read ingredient labels at the grocery store. Don’t be fooled by “light” or “natural” on the label, it doesn’t necessarily mean the product is “light” in calories, or made from “natural” ingredients. The nutritional information is also very important, and the amount and % of your daily intake of various nutrients are listed on product labels. However, it is important to know the QUANTITY of the product these measurements are referring to. You might see that the product contains 1g of fat – awesome – but that 1g might be in reference to 2 chips when you normally eat 20. 
Eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet may be slightly different for each person, depending on their age, gender, size, activity level and existing health conditions (i.e. high cholesterol, diabetes, pregnancy, etc.). Regardless of the amounts of each type of food, almost everyone needs to ensure they get enough protein, dairy, grains, fats, and fruits & vegetables.
- Protein is mainly found in meats, but you can also find it in beans, tofu, nuts, and eggs. Try for the lean and non-fried options.
- For dairy products, try to consume the lower fat options when possible. Try to stay away from items like cream cheese, cream, and butter if possible.
- Grains include wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, millet, bulgur, quinoa, and more. Grains can be found in foods like pasta, oatmeal, cereals, breads, and tortillas. Try to select the whole grain options when possible.
- Our bodies do require a certain amount of fat to function properly. Some, but not all, oils that are liquid at room temperature tend to be those with more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are the better fats to consume. Look for oils made from canola, corn, cottonseed, olive, safflower, soybean or sunflower.
- Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. They also usually contain the lowest amount of calories as compared to other types of food. While juice can be a good source of vitamins and minerals, it tend to contain a lot of added sugar. Try to limit yourself to only one glass of juice a day, or less.
Replace your foods with the lower fat/sugar versions. A lot of dairy products like milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, hard cheese, ice cream, etc., come in a “regular” version and one or more “light” versions. The label will explain what the percentage of milk fat is contained in each version (i.e. 2% milk versus 0% skim milk). If you currently consume the “regular” or higher fat versions, switch to a lower fat version of the same product. The same thing can be done with products that contain sugar. Some items made with sugar can also be found with low sugar or sugar-free versions.
- Some “fat-free” labels are just advertising gimmicks. If the food normally contains little to no fat, it doesn’t matter whether you buy the brand with the fat-free label.
- Sugar-free products sometimes use sugar substitutes instead of natural sugar. Some sugar substitutes (like stevia) also come from natural sources. Other sugar substitutes (like aspartame) do not. You will need to decide how you feel about sugar substitutes before consuming certain products.
- Sugar comes in many forms. Sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, honey, and molasses are all sugar!
Plan your meals in advance. This includes snacks and drinks. If you think about your food intake a week at a time, you are not only able to make sure you buy all the things you need, but you’re making sure each meal you eat is balanced. Meal planning may even allow you to make some of the food in advance so you don’t have to cook every day. Make sure every meal includes fruits and/or vegetables. Your meal planning should include:
- One dark green and one orange vegetable per day.
- Whole fruit instead of fruit juice.
- Whole grain products.
- Lean meat cuts or other protein sources.
Start your meals with soup. Vegetable-based soup provides both the vitamins and nutrients of the vegetables in the soup, and helps fill your stomach so you don’t eat more of another food. Soup can also make a good meal in and of itself and may be less expensive than non-soup alternatives.
- Try to choose broth-based soups, rather than creamy soups. Or, if you’re making the soup yourself, make a creamy soup using a lower fat alternative (i.e. 2% milk instead of cream).
- Add healthy extras to a homemade soup, such as lean meats, vegetables and beans.
7Choose whole-grain options. Whole grains contain a lot of vitamins and minerals your body needs, as well as complex carbohydrates, which provide your body with energy. Whole grains have also been known to help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. When selecting items that contain grain, try to choose as many whole grain options as possible. This includes items such as brown or long-grain rice, oats, whole grain bread products, and whole-grain pastas and flours.
8Do not skip breakfast. They weren’t kidding when they said breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It’s probably also the meal most people tend to skip. Try not to do this. Eating breakfast gives you enough energy to get through your morning, and helps control hunger throughout the day.9Sit down to eat a meal without distractions. Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer. Chew each bite completely before swallowing and pause between each bite. Savour your food. In an ideal situation, you should be able to sit down to each meal with one or more other people and enjoy a conversation while eating. Not only is this enjoyable, but it’ll slow down how quickly you eat and allow your body to register when it’s actually full so you stop eating.
Developing a Strong Body
Walk a minimum of 10,000 steps a day unless you have mobility issues. Don’t worry, you don’t have to actually count your footsteps all day. Wear a pedometer or download a cell phone app that counts your steps. Walking is one of the best aerobic exercises you can perform because it is not harmful to your body, specifically your joints. Ten thousand (10,000) steps a day is a common goal for people aiming to reach and maintain basic health and fitness.
- Going to the mall? Park on the opposite side of the mall from the store you’re going to so you have to walk further.
- Taking public transit? Get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.
- Take the stairs if they’re an option. Pretend elevators and escalators don’t exist.
2Develop a routine. If you don’t exercise a lot currently, suddenly working out for an hour every day of the week will probably make you hate exercise. Instead, slowly build up a routine for yourself at your own pace, and build it into your daily schedule. Try to do your exercise at approximately the same time and on the same day each week. Try to change up the type of exercise you do to give yourself variety and reduce boredom. Write down your exercise routine in your calendar (on paper or online) to help motivate you. Once you start your routine, don’t overdo it. If you’re in pain, too exhausted, or not feeling well, stop or slow down. Don’t push yourself past your limits (at least, not without professional guidance).
3Balance the type of exercise you perform. The exercise you perform should be balanced so it has positive impacts on all your internal systems. This means you should include activities that provide you with: stretching and flexibility exercises (e.g. standard stretches, yoga, etc.); aerobic exercises (e.g. walking, running, biking, etc.); strengthening exercises (e.g. weights, yoga, etc.); core exercises, which is anything that helps build strength and power in the muscles that support your spine (e.g. pilates, etc.); and balance exercises (e.g. yoga, tai chi, etc.).
4Do yoga on a regular basis. Yoga offers a lot of great benefits for your whole body, as well as your mind. It can also help you increase or maintain your flexibility, build muscle strength, and decrease your weight. And it can benefit your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Yoga is also great regardless of your age or previous exercise experience.
5Perform moderate and vigorous physical activities every week. Moderate physical activity will make you breathe harder, but you should still be able to talk (includes quick walking, skating, biking, etc.). Vigorous physical activity will not allow you to talk without catching your breath (includes running, cross-country skiing, basketball, soccer, etc.).You should spend at least 2.5 hours per week performing moderate physical activity in sessions of at least 10 minutes OR 1.25 hours per week performing vigorous physical activities in sessions of at least 10 minutes. Of course, doing BOTH would be awesome!
Achieving a Strong, Healthy Mind
Learn to be mindful. Mindfulness is basically taking a moment to be aware of your feelings and senses at a particular point in time, without trying to analyze or judge anything. Many of the day-to-day things we do with our mind can be stressful and tiring. Taking a moment to be mindful, on a regular basis, can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood and feelings, and help you concentrate on the more important things in life. Some methods of being mindful are as follows:
- Pay close attention to other people. Learn more about someone – how they think, why they are the way they are – without using any judgements or applying any stereotypes.
- Look at the world as if you’ve never seen it before. Try to take notice of things you take for granted.
2Meditate. There is almost nothing bad about meditation. It helps increase your immune function, relieves pain, decreases inflammation, helps depression and anxiety, helps you regulate your emotions, physically changes your brain for the better, makes your memory better and much more. If you have never meditated before, learn how to concentrate first – sit still, close your eyes if you want, and focus on a single point. The point can be your breathing, a specific word, staring at a specific object, or even counting something. Focus on the object for as long as you can. If you notice your mind wandering, bring it back into focus. Once you get good at this method of concentration meditation, move onto more difficult forms of meditation
Boost your self-confidence and self-esteem. Self-confidence and self-esteem are an important part of having a strong and healthy body. Decreased self-esteem/self-confidence can be brought on by physical events, and can start an endless cycle of feeling bad mentally and physically. There are, however, many things you can do to help yourself increase your self-esteem/confidence every day:
- Look the part. Pay attention to what you wear and how you look. Wear things that make you feel comfortable and yourself. Don’t dress in a trend that isn’t you. The more confident you look, the more confident you’ll feel.
- Start crossing things off your to do list. Sometimes we have so much on our plate that the little, mundane things like doing the dishes or laundry get put aside. Take the time to get those small things out of the way – they’re accomplishments too!
- If needed, don’t spend time with people who make you feel small, or break down your self-esteem. And stay away from places that make you feel bad or have negative memories. If that isn’t possible, develop a plan to re-build your memory of a person or place in a more positive light.
Think positively. Take the time to recognize when you’re feeling down, or thinking negative thoughts. Try to overcome negative thoughts with positive ones. Think about the good things in your life. Try to be optimistic. Think about the things you feel guilty about and formally forgive yourself. Turn mistakes into learning opportunities. Don’t hold onto grudges. Reward yourself for the good and positive things you do in your life. Try not to aim for perfection in everything you do.
- Have fun! Do what you actually enjoy doing – on a regular basis. Try new and exciting things. Do something nice for someone else. Set some goals for yourself, easy or challenging, or both, and work towards them. Make sure you take the time to relax every now and again, and if necessary, do nothing. Just be yourself.