AUGUST HEALTH CHALLENGE – CREATING & MAINTAINING BALANCE
Balance is an ideal that most of us strive for when creating a healthy lifestyle… Exercising consistently but still having time to Netflix and chill. Enjoy a summer day with some burgers and hot dogs without the guilt. Throughout the Sparkling Hill Healthy Lifestyle Challenge we have been implementing small and manageable changes to our lifestyle. So instead of telling you to avoid BBQs and quit sugar, your challenge is to:
Keep your “BALANCE”
Healthy nutrition is all about energy balance: How much food you eat for your needs plus how active you are, determines your overall energy balance (aka calories in vs. calories burned). An easy target to blame for too much overall energy is sugar; it seems to be in almost everything and has replaced fat as enemy number 1 in a lot of diets! The simple truth is that sugars, fats, and even salt can all be key factors in weight gain! Unbalanced foods that are high in sugars, fats or salts are often highly processed as well as energy dense (high in calories) and if we eat a lot of these foods we will end up consuming more calories than we need. This can lead to other health problems like obesity or cardiovascular disease. So, if you’re heavier or carrying around more fat than you would like, you will want to consider adjusting how much and what kind of foods you eat (in addition to keeping up with consistent exercise). A few months ago we talked about how to find the right portion size for you and hopefully this has helped you out. You should be eating proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vegetables with every meal. So you have already been creating balanced meals without even realizing it.
But what happens when that inevitable slip up comes and you have that dreaded cheat day? The first thing most of us do is guilt and beat ourselves up over it. What you need to do is acknowledge that you slipped up and then you can ask yourself “how did that affect me?” If it was a onetime thing and you rebounded back to your healthy lifestyle, then no big deal. If it led to a change in your health (physical, mental, or even emotional) or more slips start happening; then you acknowledge the change in your behavior and then try to remedy it to get back on track. The point is, that so many of us crucify and guilt ourselves over something that really didn’t make a difference in our health. Life and health are all about finding a good balance. It’s ok to have a cheat meal or day every once in a while, in fact it may keep you from going insane!
Nutrition and exercise play an important role in maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle, but what about the other things that we may not consider as nutrition or exercise right away? Stimulants and depressants like caffeine and alcohol can also have a desirable or undesirable affect on your body. Many of us need that first cup of coffee in the morning simply to survive and not kill each other and that is ok. How many of us end up drinking way more than one or two cups and worse yet how many of us consume coffee drinks like frappucinos or lattes? (Hint they are all calorie dense!) Alcohol can also be pleasurable and a way to reduce stress for some but excess alcohol intake leads to poor sleep, dehydration (hangovers), and poor nutritional choices. So, balancing your nutrition can help you to control your intake. By eating a variety of whole foods and less processed foods, your need for stimulants and/or depressants will more than likely be less.
Consistent exercise and getting a balanced mix of strength and cardiovascular training, along with adequate rest will enhance your good health. We can also employ the same thinking that we did with a nutritional cheat day as when you don’t exercise for a period of time. Whether you were on vacation, sick, skipped a workout or life just got too busy; evaluate whether or not your break has affected your health or behavior, and make changes accordingly.
Recognize that your health is complex and changing only one thing will probably not have the life changing effect you’re looking for… although it’s a good start! Ensuring you are consistently performing a variety of fundamental healthy behaviors will ensure your long term health.
How many of the following do you do consistently:
- Don’t smoke
- Keep alcohol intake moderate
- Eat slowly and mindfully
- Eat balanced meals, including some healthy fats
- Eat 6+ servings of fruits and vegetables
- Get some exercise or movement in everyday
- Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each day
- Reduce stress
- Spend time with people you love and/or who support you
About Paul Bradshaw:
Paul Bradshaw is a Kinesiologist at Sparkling Hill Resort. He graduated from the University of British Columbia Vancouver in 2010 with a Bachelor of Human Kinetics. He is the lead Whole Body Cryotherapy practitioner and also specializes in injury rehabilitation and prevention, and healthy weight loss. Paul is also a certified Kinesio Tape practitioner.