Healthy life revolves around five pillars, this includes food, faith, fit, family and fun.
Most of us tend to admire the beautiful bodies of television celebrities and models, hoping someday we can achieve that! Well, that’s too good to be true but nothing is impossible, isn’t it?
So, does it mean if we lose weight, we are fit? Or that people who are fat are unfit? Is fitness related to exercise and ‘looking’ fit only? I believe the question we should be asking is: ‘what is fitness?’
According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, fitness is “your own optimal health and overall well-being. Being fit not only means physical health, but emotional and mental health, too. It defines every aspect of your health. Smart eating and active living are fundamental to fitness.”
It’s the little things we should do each day that adds up to being healthy and fit. It is always a “work in progress” since there are many elements to a healthy lifestyle. Fitness is therefore an outcome of good nutrition and proper conditioning.
A lot of people eat fairly well and exercise, yet they often experience injury, constant pain, struggle with weight, constipation, hard time digesting food, mood fluctuations and fatigue. Diet and exercise isn’t enough to keep your body stable or efficient. We need to view a human body beyond just fat and muscle ratios.
The following tips can guide you to adopting a healthy living. Bear in mind that fitness is not only about the ‘size’ that matters but there’s more to it.
1. Kick your bad habits
Habits in the “quit” category would be smoking, drugs, unsafe sex and other unhealthy addictions. There isn’t a healthy turn or way in doing the above things.
2. Get your check-up
Have an annual checkup with your family doctor. For those who are known cases of medical illnesses should at least have 3-6 monthly visits for a baseline check-up. Do various screenings for breast, prostate or any new growing skin lesions. This way you will be aware of what is abnormal in your body.
Good sleep helps our body to recover, repair and rejuvenate. Lack of sleep affects our metabolism, mood, concentration, memory, stress hormones, immune system and cardiovascular health. Therefore, sleep well and keep your worries for the next day.
Even if it is just a walk, exercise helps to strengthen the heart, lungs, muscles and increases flexibility.
Cardio and strength training helps muscles to contract while yoga improves its flexibility. There is absolutely ‘no excuse’ to not workout. In this fast paced life many of us cannot go to the gym. But we need to stay physically fit, so workout from home or with a group of people at your own comfort zone, engage in household activities, use the stairs instead of the elevator. You will only see results when you accept your body the way it is and make practical goals to achieve something. Remember it is a slow process.
5. Eat right
Fitness and health comes with smart eating habits. Eating a little bit of everything and having few cheat foods occasionally is totally okay! Incorporate fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet. Make a habit of reading the nutritional value for the food you consume. Human body needs 45-65 per cent carbohydrates, 10-35 per cent proteins and 25-35 per cent fats per day from the required total amount of calories we consume per day. Nutritionist recommend small frequent meals. Avoid processed foods, artificial sugars and high fat food.
6. Consistency and moderation
Make changes one at a time. By making too many changes at once, you will relapse into old habits. Make these choices as part of your daily routine to reach your goals. Avoid doing extremes in any capacity.
The author is a Medical Doctor pursuing post-graduate studies in Paediatrics and Child Health at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS).