- 53% of adults in Canada are considered overweight or obese
- 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese
- 44.8% of adults are inactive
- 22.7% of people over the age of 15 feel quite a bit or extreme stress.
If we keep going in this direction, seek what will it mean as we age and for younger generations. It’s not like we don’t know what to do. We know that lack of physical activity combined with high stress and poor eating habits contributes to increased risks for cancers, link diabetes, heart disease and immune system complications. So what are we waiting for? We can no longer afford to take our health for granted. According to Psychologist, Kenneth Pargament, “Having a future to plan for and strive toward is essential to our health and well-being.” We need to see our bodies as the sacred home for our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing. A well-functioning body helps us to experience life positively, to contemplate and to achieve our dreams. We need to take charge and create a new vision for our own health and wellbeing.
When you’re healthy, what does it feel like? Is it being physically fit and having energy for the activities you most enjoy doing with your loved ones; or is it maintaining normal ranges in blood sugars, cholesterol and blood pressure? Is it feeling vibrant, energetic, confident and resilient? Does healthy mean feeling relaxed and having an outlet to deal with the stresses of life, remaining positive and having the fortitude to meet challenges head on? Whatever your reasons for getting and staying health, you need to keep a constant vigilance. Short term diets or poorly planned fitness programs, or short decompression vacations will not do it. A long term vision and strategy that builds and maintains health throughout your life is needed, and it takes planning and daily small steps to achieve and sustain your goals or to get back on track when you stumble. As you’re crafting your own vision of what health looks like, consider these four anchors in your plans.
- Nutrition –research what portions are appropriate for your age and energy needs; number of carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables, grains and dairy needed every day. Get into the habit of planning your meals on a weekly basis to save time and money. By planning you’ll eat better as well. Make time to savour and enjoy your meals instead of eating on the run. A good place to start is the Canada Health Food Guide at www.hc-sc.gc.ca
- Physical fitness – Find one or two physical activities that are enjoyable such as going to the gym, running, walking, yoga, swimming, playing a team sport. Schedule this activity in your day planner, like you schedule other appointments and meetings. Find ways to incorporate physical activity into your work day such as stretching, running errands during lunch, walking. Try a new activity that is both fun and fitness oriented like a dance class or participating in a charity walk with a friends and family. Start with three, 30-minute activities each week to get started and increase your time as your fitness improves. You can find a ton of ideas at www.participaction.ca.
- Mental fitness – To reduce stress try to identify the causes and find ways to reduce the stressors. Accept there will be challenges and try to keep your thoughts positive to help you ride out these storms more easily. Journaling can help. Make time to laugh and find quiet activities such as reading a favourite book, reflecting on what’s working well and make plans. Find lots of tools at The Canadian Mental Health Association at www.cmha.ca.
- Restorative rest and relaxation – In addition to your regular vacation, plan some time each week to rejuvenate, even if it’s only 30-60 minutes. Get a message, essential oils or other alternative therapies that are designed to help you slow down. Treat yourself to a pedicure, manicure, facial or spa. Meditate, listen to your favourite music or take a stroll along the beach or in a natural setting. Have an electronics and TV free day each week. Check out www.greatist.com for a great variety of ideas and tips.
By creating a vision and taking small steps each and every day to achieve it, you’ll look and feel great and you will grow old with grace and independence. You’ll reduce your risk for many diseases and feel more balanced and happy. Your loved ones will notice too and they may be inspired to do the same.