Seriously, do you really need an incentive to stay healthy? With lifestyle diseases rapidly on the increase, we owe it to ourselves to do everything we can to ensure that we live healthy.
I was diagnosed in Feb 2013 with type 2 diabetes. While diabetes runs in the family, and I was at risk anyway, there have been days when I have secretly felt guilty about helping that risk catch up with me.
For one thing, I work from home. Most people assume this is easy, but it isn’t, always. The freedom and flexibility that comes with this is quite easy to misuse. And this results in delayed meal times, sitting too long, not drinking enough water, and generally allowing self-care to take a backseat.
My wakeup call came with my type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Overnight, I made the change, and am sticking to it. Not only that, I have also roped in my family to buddy up with me!
Come, let’s count the ways. For the sake of convenience, I have divided my healthy lifestyle into broad categories. If I allow even one to go out of balance, I will suffer.
And if you are wondering why 54 ways, take a guess!
Let food be thy medicine! One of the best things to stay healthy is to pay attention to our diet. As a diabetic, I know I must get the right balance of fiber, protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat and count the calories. There are good guidelines available and I try my best to follow it by eating healthy. Here is what I do.
- Salad with every meal
- Always pair protein with carb: an example is fruit and nuts.
- Eat at the same time every day
- Eat a healthy breakfast that includes sprouts, vegetables and healthy carbs
- Drink plenty of water and choose water when I am thirsty!
- Cook my own food from scratch
- Use healthy oils while cooking
- Avoid processed, bottled, canned and packaged food. As my grandmother loved to say, the longer the shelf life of a product, the shorter your life.
- Buy local, buy fresh vegetables
- Avoid sugar completely
- Avoid bakery items
- Eat fruit for dessert
- Snack healthy with fresh fruit
- Minimize salt; instead use herbs to season my food
- No eating after 8 pm
- As far as possible, I don’t eat out
I do have occasional cheat days, but my goal is to stick to these guidelines.
Exercise is a non-negotiable. No matter how healthily I eat, I have to work it off to build my stamina and energy. I walk to most places and I am lucky that everyone in my family loves to walk. Also, we are blessed with a large terrace where it is possible to get a good workout, walking and also lets us catch up with each other as we enjoy the chirping of the birds and watch the sunset.
Besides walking regularly, I’ve learned to work in other ways to exercise to keep me agile and healthy:
- Wake up ten minutes early and go buy the milk. That’s a 20 minute brisk walk. Plus, I’ve earned my coffee!
- While working, get up every half an hour and walk around the house. Sitting is the new smoking, in case you didn’t know. And if you are a smoker, quit. NOW. Kick that butt.
- Stand and work at the computer at regular intervals.
- Do pushups while watching TV. Some programs anyway make me so mad that working off the energy this way really helps.
- Walk to the market to buy vegetables and grocery. Good exercise, enjoyable conversations, stronger relationships
- Pick up two one liter water bottles to do weights for health arms.
- Skipping in place or spot jogging. Can be done almost anywhere
- Play with kids in the building. Nothing more enjoyable—and great calorie burner!
- Take the stairs. Even when I don’t go out. Great cardio and perfect even when it is raining. So no excuses!
- Yes, I sweep and swab. Dust and vacuum. Do the dishes and laundry. I have scheduled time for this so that it turns into a workout. And since I have music on, I sometimes pretend I am a rock star with the mop.
- Occasionally, I try some yoga moves for a full body workout. This is not only exercise for the body, but also for the mind. Keeps me calm.
- Help neighbors with their garden
- Babysit neighbor’s kids
- If I have to wait for something, I walk up and down
- I walk when I speak on the phone
- While watching TV I don’t use the remote. I walk to the TV and change channels
And by the way, I always wear walking shoes whenever I step out of my house.
I try to get my seven hours by sleeping at the same time and waking at the same time. Our body refreshes itself while we sleep and there’s a designated time for each organ’s maintenance and repair. Not getting enough sleep raises our risk for diabetes, heart disease and a whole lot of other health conditions we really don’t need. As a diabetic, I have to be even more careful about the complications of this condition.
Healthy sleeping habits? I follow these:
- Stop eating at least two hours before sleeping. Helps with weight management
- Close the computer at least two hours before sleeping
- Listen to music as I drift off to sleep
- Read a few pages
- Calm the mind
- Keep the bedroom cool and soothing. That means no TV, no electronics in there.
- I switch off my internet modem at night, so no checking the phone in bed.
So I eat, sleep and exercise. What about managing stress levels? Did you know stress can cause a number of diseases? Normal stress is healthy, but when we allow it to get out of hand, it runs our lives. I keep myself happy by doing the following as much as possible:
- Saying no to the things that do not make me happy
- Doing work that I enjoy
- Indulging in my hobbies—drawing, painting, craft projects
- Volunteering at my local welfare home. Spending time with others and contributing my time to them is fulfilling and triggers my happy cells
- Photography—I just take my camera and go on a walk, noticing the little things around me, my area.
- Take a break with short travel trips or just take a day off work to recharge my brain so that I return refreshed.
- I love to write and this helps me strengthen my creative muscle.
- Minimize social media.
- Write in my gratitude journal.
- Laugh a lot
Being part of a community is important to staying cheerful and this contributes to our health. This is what I do to keep good company.
- Interaction with neighbors
- Family get-togethers
- Coffee or lunch with friends
- Outings with family and friends
- Visit the supermarket and chat up the staff. A smile is a smile!
It is a competitive world out there. When we read about all that people are accomplishing, it is easy to wonder whether we are enough, and doing enough. Comparison is the thief of joy. It is important to remember each one of us is unique and what works for others can be quite different from what works for us.
I stay away from comparing, and accept myself as I am. I know I am doing the best I can. And when I acknowledge myself, and appreciate myself, I know I am on the right track. It keeps my mind and body healthy, and helps me stay motivated.
If someone says staying healthy is difficult, don’t believe them! It is all in your own hands to find what works for you and do it. You owe it to yourself!