You wake up, you eat, you go to school or work, you take care of kids, you clean the house, you watch a little TV or browse the internet or play a game to relax, you go to a necessary meeting or seminar, you drive the kids to after school activities, you cook, you clean some more because it’s impossible to keep a room clean for 5 minutes with toddlers. Wait, that last one is me. Regardless, you’re probably familiar with a few of these things. You basically bounce from one task or activity to another. It’s so easy during your busy week to neglect your health. For a lot of people, exercise and what they’re going to eat next is the last thing on their mind.
Now listen. You don’t have to put your muscles to work or get your blood pumping past a comfortable level. You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to put in your body. You don’t have to choose those vegetables and whole grains over a quick burger and fries at the nearest McDonald’s. But the cold truth is, you need to.
If you’re not putting the effort throughout your day to make conscious, healthy decisions, your body is not going to do what you want it to. Nothing worth having is made in a day. (Except a delicious, home cooked meal. But even then the ingredients to make it aren’t grown in a day, either.)
Let’s put it this way. You work at a fancy little office job in a large, spacious building. You work on the 15th or 20th floor. Maybe even the 40th floor. Or higher. It’s a big building, okay. One day you get to work and, goodness gracious, the elevators have all stopped working at the same time! Your boss naturally doesn’t take excuses and still expects you to show up and do your job, so you have to take the stairs.
By floor 5 you’re beginning to breath heavier. Floor 7, you’re breaking into a sweat. Floor 10, your lovely, tailored suit doesn’t smell so great anymore. By floor 13 you’re huffing and puffing and it’s taking you twice as long to get up one level. Starting to see where this is going? If you work on floor 15, hey, not so bad. Just a huff and a puff up one more flight. But you work in a big, tall, giant, enormous building and there is just no way you’re making it to your floor alive.
At least, that’s one reality. As luck would have it, you’ve kept up your health pretty well. You exercise at least 3 times a week, you eat right 6 out of 7 days. (Or 24/7 if you’re a real fitness freak who doesn’t believe in a good “Yolo” day.) Heck, you probably take the stairs at least once a week already just for the extra workout. Who needs elevators?
If the zombie apocalypse finally happens, are you going to be the one saving your friends and loved ones? Or are you going to be the guy who gets shot in the foot so everyone else can escape because you “probably wouldn’t have made it anyway”?
These situations I’ll admit are a little extreme. So let’s take it down a notch. You never know when you’re going to have to sprint a little bit to catch a bus or a deviant child trying to chase his ball into a busy street. You never know when you’re going to have to lift a heavy object to help out a neighbor, or just because your terrible boss says you have to. You never know if your body is going to malfunction on you because you’re not taking care of it. Premature strokes and heart attacks are a real thing, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
A proper diet and regular exercise will keep you happy, healthy, and full of energy. They’ll not only keep you living long and strong, but the looks that come with it aren’t anything to sneeze at.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post a good list of clean, healthy foods you can eat to maintain a healthy diet. Here’s the list again in case you don’t feel like switching to another page entirely:
- Whole grain breads and pasta
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, fish, or other seafood
- Low fat red meats like steak and lean ground beef
- Rice and quinoa
- Whole milk or a dairy free substitute such as almond, coconut, or cashew
- Pasteurized cheese that hasn’t been pre-shredded or sliced
- Greek or low fat yogurt
Now I’m not saying you have to eat healthy meals 100% of the time. You can absolutely still indulge every once in a while. The key is to keep the sweet snacks and convenient foods to a minimum. Aim for three full meals each day with at least one fruit and/or vegetable with each one. (Some people like spreading it out and eating up to 6 or even eight smaller meals every couple hours, too. Which is totally acceptable. I encourage you to experiment and find which way you enjoy most.) Coffee is not a meal. Eggs on toast with an apple or banana on the side is a meal. Lettuce leaves and some dressing is not a meal. Throw in some protein like chicken, quinoa, or eggs, or even all three, and it becomes a meal.
Exercise can be as simple as a 30 minute walk each day, or strength training 3-4 times a week. You could easily do a combination of both. You just don’t want to get into the habit of sitting around all the time. You do enough sitting when you drive around or work in an office or take classes all day. If you feel like you don’t have enough time in the day to fit in a workout, start taking a look at everything you do have time for and see if there are any little sacrifices you can make. Those five minutes you take to check Facebook or Twitter, for example. You can trade that in for a 5 minute cardio boosting workout session.
If you took the time to read this blog, that means you’re at least a little serious about starting a regular health and fitness routine. That’s great! I encourage you to read my post with tips on getting started. But if there is anything you take away from what you’ve read here, let it be this:
You don’t have to be active or eat right on a daily basis, but if you want to be strong and healthy for as long as possible, you need to.