26 Steps to Simplicity: Health

bicyle rideAchieving great health can be simple with a bit of forethought and pro-activity.  What good is a lifetime of wealth and achievement if you don’t have the good health to enjoy it? When my husband David and I used to watch House Hunters on HGTV, he would frequently comment on this, noting those of retirement age who were out of shape or infirm and unable to partake fully in the fruits of their labor.

The time to get healthy is now, so that you can enjoy a lifetime of vitality.

Ironically, I am writing this as I lay on my bed, icing my back.  I have been suffering from lower back pain and sciatica for two weeks now, and let me tell you, it sucks.  I spend 80% of my day on my feet, because sitting (and then standing up again) shoots searing pain through my left leg.  I spent 7 hours and 10x as many dollars last week at the chiropractor, undergoing adjustments, electric stimulation, and traction (or as my friend described it, “drawing without the quartering”), and I am due back again this afternoon.

Thankfully, I think I am beginning to heal; I can’t wait to get better! All of this to say, when we don’t care for our bodies, it impacts not only our physical abilities but also our finances and time.  It is much better to maintain our health with simple routines than to repair health once it is lost.  Unfortunately, our health care system focuses more on treating and medicating illnesses than educating and encouraging healthy habits.

Our health, ultimately, is ours to own.  By simply doing the basics:  eating right, drinking enough water, exercising and stretching (I have to add in stretching, because it was the lack thereof that put me in my current condition), getting enough rest, and avoiding unhealthy habits (ie: overeating, watching too much TV, smoking, drinking excessively, consuming too much sugar or processed foods), good health can be achieved.

How can we create a simple regimen for health?  Here are a few things that help me to stay on the right track:

Create a basic meal plan.  I talk more about this here and share a sample meal plan here, but when we plan out our meals, we reduce our tendency to rely on fast food or junk food to fill in the gaps.  Creating a meal plan for the week helps us to be more mindful of what we are putting in our mouths, and it saves us time and money (less eating out). I have found the meal planning form from Organized Home to be the most effective for me.  It allows you to plan out all three meals, and I use the shopping column as an extension of each day to include snacks and other food preparation notes (baking bread, muffins; hard boiling eggs, etc.) organized home meal planner

Exercise.  I know it can be hard to fit time in for fitness, but it is so important.  According to the Mayo Clinic, just thirty minutes of moderate activity (brisk walking, swimming, gardening, etc.) each day will do wonders for your heart and your overall energy.  Strength training (lifting weights, rock climbing, etc.) a couple of times a week is also essential to keep your body fit and able.

You don’t need a gym membership to get in shape.  Walk up and down your stairs at home, park at the back of parking lots, do weight-bearing exercises without weights or machines, get some free Pilates or yoga videos from the library, go for a bike ride, cross country ski.

Find an activity that you enjoy or find a partner to make it more enjoyable.  Schedule it into your day; don’t wait for the right time to show up, because I promise you it won’t:)  I admit, I struggle with consistency, but when I go to bed at a reasonable time, I have no problem getting to the gym at 5:30am, and I am always amazed at the extra energy I have, making me more productive throughout the day.  You can read more about my workout routine here.

Rest. We all need it, but most of us don’t get enough of it.  We are slaves to our busy schedules: working late, running kids around to every activity, volunteering at school or in the community, cleaning our homes, wasting time on social media, catching up on our favorite TV shows, staring bleary-eyed at our screens in bed until we finally fall asleep.  That last one used to steal a lot of my sleep time and impair the quality of my sleep, until I made the decision to disconnect from my devices.  It has made a world of difference.

However, with children at home, I crave those couple (or few) hours of alone time at the end of the day, which often doesn’t begin until 8:30pm.  I may be falling asleep during the bible story at 7:00pm, but a second wind can keep me awake upwards of 11:00pm, if I’m not careful.  My goal is to be in bed by 9:30pm-without my phone– so I can wake up early to go to the gym.

These three, interconnected practices are central to achieving good health.  Getting to bed at a reasonable time ensures that I will wake up on time to exercise.  Exercise both gives me energy and requires energy, which comes from healthy food.  I plan out a nutrient-rich meal plan, to sustain and refuel my body.  All of the energy I expend demands the replenishment of sleep, to restore my body and give it energy for the next day.

When we clutter up our lives with fruitless, mind-numbing, sedentary activities and poor nutrition, we deprive ourselves of the life and vitality God created us to have.

What step will you take to prioritize your health this week?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Day 1: Assess

Day 2: Beauty

Day 3: Cull

Day 4: Donate

Day 5: Encourage

Day 6: Faith

Day 7: Gratitude


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