“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
— The Dalai Lama
Can you imagine most of your life striving to achieve economic “freedom,” only to get to the end of the road and discover that no amount of money can cure a disease that you acquired because you didn’t take care of your health because of your hectic lifestyle? How much is your economic “freedom” worth that you would even sacrifice your health for it? Many people put their health to the side and put their jobs as a priority without thinking about the true consequences of such a decision. People die from heart attacks, strokes and diabetes, get bone fractures because of osteoporosis and suffer from other diseases. These diseases could be avoided by paying attention to the body’s needs with exercise. However, people are so into their fast-paced lifestyle that they don’t pay attention to those needs.
As we know, regular exercise and a healthy diet help us with weight loss, increased energy levels and awareness, better body posture and appearance, and increased muscle strength. Exercise and a healthy diet have other benefits that people usually don’t take into account. These behaviors can lead us to a longer, healthy life. Exercise and a healthy diet are nothing more than a win-win behavior. By engaging in such behaviors, people can avoid many diseases and physical difficulties in the future. Exercise and healthy diet will lead to a high quality life now and in the future. There is no book or research that reports negative consequences to exercise and a healthy diet, if both are done right. According to American Council on Exercise, “If exercise were in the form of pills, they will be the pills most prescribed in the world.” Exercise may help to decrease levels of low density lipoprotein (“bad cholesterol”), increase levels of high density lipoprotein (“good cholesterol”) and lower high blood pressure as well. Consequently, they help to decrease the likelihood of heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, exercise may help to increase the body’s natural insulin, which in turn lowers the high levels of glucose (sugar) that cause diabetes. In addition, bone is a tissue that adapts to the stress that is being applied. Therefore, if the bone is being stressed by exercise, the bone becomes stronger. As a consequence, osteoporosis could be avoided.
Exercise is necessary for a healthy life, and it goes hand in hand with a healthy diet; both work synergistically. Indeed, eating is the basis of any health program. It is true that we are what we eat. The less healthy we eat, the less healthy we are and feel. Conversely, the healthier we eat, the more alive we are and feel. Many people believe that eating a diet low in calories, low in carbohydrates and low in fat is a healthy diet. Even though eating low-fat foods is part of a healthy diet, a diet low in complex carbohydrates or calories is not.
In addition, many people pay attention to the caloric labels and try to avoid fats and carbohydrates, but they do not pay attention to the most important part of the food: the ingredients. A healthy diet can be defined as getting the nutrients the body needs in is a balance between caloric intake and consuming foods that come from natural — and, it is to be hoped — organic sources. Since many foods are ultra-processed in the United States, if we consume them, our bodies have to deal with such and will lead us to negative consequences. It is best to eat so-called “whole” foods: fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy and some meats, too. Most ultra-processed foods have a high percentage of inorganic sources, such as chemicals, and contribute to different diseases including different types of cancer, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and obesity. For this reason, it is significant to verify the source, the type and cooking processes of the food that we are going to digest.
By staying active and choosing the right foods, we can avoid many negative consequences, such as diseases. By avoiding diseases, we save time and money with fewer doctor visits. This may mean working less and having a better life. Research shows that people who exercise and chose a healthy diet live longer and are happier than their counterparts that don’t exercise and eat without concern.
It doesn’t take much to get chronically ill; all it takes is an overly stressed busy life and a lack of action about our health. I don’t think anyone wants to be bedridden, watching others enjoying their life, and thinking about the sacrifices made to get all the material possessions that they are not going to be able to enjoy. Even worse, you could end up not being able to enjoy your loved ones, and you might even see them suffer with you because of your pain. On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to stay healthy. All we need is to make time in our busy lives to exercise three times a week for about an hour each time, walk every day for at least 20 minutes and to commit to buying better food at home and when eating out. These behaviors can effect a rapid and positive change in our health. In turn, we’ll lead a more enjoyable life. The happiness we all are striving for is within our reach. Why wait until you feel ill and really have to make some drastic changes in your life? The time is now. A little sustained sacrifice and effort now will pay off big dividends in the future.
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Bryant, Cedric. Lifestyle Weight Management Consultant Manual. ACE: San Diego, 2007. Print.
Camire, Mary Ellen, Stan Kubow, and Danielle J. Donnelly. “Potatoes and Human Health.” Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 May 2012.
Canfield, Jack et al. The Power of Focus. HCI: Florida. Print. 2000.
Kamyar Kalantar Zadeh, et al. “Organic and Inorganic Dietary Phosphorus and Its Management in Chronic Kidney Disease.” Iranian Journal Of Kidney Diseases. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 May 2012.
Teresa Norat, et al. “Red and Processed Meat And Colorectal Cancer Incidence: Meta Analysis of Prospective Studies.” Plos One. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 May 2012.
Sandro Torres is a fitness professional and owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale. His column appears on the second Tuesday of the month in Body & More.