You want to live a healthier, more fulfilling life. You want to take that vacation you always planned but never took. You want to learn how to cook better and fill your home with plants. Well, why not?
On average, people spend about half the day at work or school and then come home to eat dinner and do errands before going back out again for a social event or nightcap. With all of our modern conveniences, it’s hard to think that we could use our layovers, elevator rides, and lunch breaks to get fit, learn a new skill, or create more balance in our lives. But we can!
This health care blog post provides ideas on how to live a fulfilling life with just five days of thinking differently about your time and tweaking your habits so you can feel fitter and healthier. You’ll have richer friendships and deeper connections with the people you love. You’ll be a better friend and partner at work. And you’ll have the energy to tackle projects that will move you closer to your goals. Here’s how:
1. Stand Up for the Sake of a Better Tomorrow
Stand instead of sitting whenever possible in your office, at the movies, on a plane, even at the dinner table. In my work as a weight loss and fitness coach, I encourage clients to avoid sitting for more than an hour at a time. Sure, standing isn’t as restful as lying down or sitting with good posture. But if you can stand up throughout your day, you’ll have more energy and be less likely to gain weight. And when you spend most of your waking hours in an upright position, it’s easier to sleep better and fall asleep faster (leading to longer sleep).
How to Stand Up:
- Put a small stool next to your desk so you can stand while you work.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park far from your destination, what have you are is more likely to opt for a walking or cycling commute and take up more time standing than sitting. If you’re driving, leave plenty of time for parking (yes, even if it’s close).
2. Eat Before You Drink Alcohol If You Want to Lose Weight
And Do It Directly after Exercise. No waiting around for that next meal! Consuming alcohol in excess, especially red wine causes weight gain because it increases dehydration levels and adiposity (the “fat cell. It takes longer for the body to revert back to its normal weight and courtroom, and you’ll be hungrier. It also causes a decrease in the immune system, making you more susceptible to disease. This leads to more calories used throughout the day and can lead you right back into that vicious cycle of overeating. Plus, it decreases cognitive function, according to research, which could make it harder to make healthy choices throughout the day.
How Much Alcohol?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women should only drink one glass of wine or a six-ounce glass of beer per day; men should have two drinks daily.
How to Wait for Healthy Meals Instead: Breakfast for Dinner!
A study from the University of Chicago suggests that eating breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, contrary to popular belief. Researchers found that those who skipped breakfast were 36 percent more likely to be obese and 15 percent more likely to have diabetes compared to those who ate breakfast regularly. Try this recipe for Orange Breakfast Crispies, or serve sweet potatoes with spinach and half an avocado or top a piece of whole-grain toast with a sunny-side-up egg instead.
3. Eat More Plants
Eating more plants can reduce your levels of inflammation, which in turn helps lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. It also lowers your risks of many types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. As listed on the Environmental Working Group’s website, plant-based foods are healthier than vegetable oil, butter, or margarine. They’re also more nutritious, contain no trans fats, and contain one-fourth fewer calories! Here are some great ways to add more plants into your diet:
- Eat Lean Meat Beef and Lamb More Often.
- Try cooking with olive oil in place of butter or other oils for better taste.
- Make smoothies from fresh fruit and soy or rice milk instead of milk.
- Add a handful of fresh herbs like spinach, kale, or broccoli to salads instead of lettuce.
- Make (or buy) vegetarian chili, veggie burgers, lentil soup, or black bean chili.
4. Learn a New Language
Learning a new language is good for you and your brain. Research suggests that learning a new language increases the size of your brain’s grey matter, which increases its ability to store information and make connections in the brain. This helps protect against age-related memory loss and diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. It may also keep your mind sharper as you age.
A study in the journal Neurology found that bilingual seniors were less likely to experience cognitive decline in comparison to those who only spoke one language, even when they all had similar levels of education. Bilingual people also have smaller areas of gray matter loss in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls language and memory. The result? Bilingual people are less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Do What You Love
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Maybe you work a job because it pays the bills, but you really want to pursue your passion. Or maybe you’re happy in your career but unfulfilled in life. Or perhaps you just need a boost of energy after working so hard at everything else. Whatever the case, taking care of yourself and doing what you love will improve your mood and keep your brain sharp while also giving you the energy to tackle the day’s challenges.
How to Do What You Love:
- Sign up for a local art class or visual poetry workshop. (Try this fun tour of the world through paints and words)
- Go to your local library and explore the different branches from culinary classes to poetry readings to art exhibits.
- Volunteer or work with a non-profit organization that’s close to your heart. (befund.org puts you in touch with opportunities near you)