We all want to live life to its fullest and enjoy the essence of what life has to offer. Good health means being able to do the things that bring you happiness. Conversely, when your health is poor, you’re often unable to do the things that make life enjoyable. No matter what your goals are, good health is the place to begin. So, how do you start?
• Calories are king. When you are carrying extra weight it puts stress on virtually every system in your body. Knowing how many calories you can eat in a day to maintain your present weight is the beginning of healthy weight management. You can do this by calculating your basal energy expenditure (BEE) Here’s how:
a) For men: BEE = 66.5 + (13.75 x weight [kg]) + (5.003 x height [cm]) – (6.775 x age [years])
b) For women: BEE = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight [kg]) + (1.850 x height [cm]) – (4.676 x age [years])
Here’s an example for a 35-year-old woman who weighs 59 kg (130 lbs.) and is 167 cm (5’6”) tall:
655.1 + 564.21 + 308.95 – 163.66 = 1364.6 calories per day (BEE)
You then factor in your activity level using the following chart:
Once you determine your daily calorie intake to maintain your weight, you can also figure out how much to eat in order to lose weight. To lose one pound a week subtract 500 calories from your total calorie requirement per day. To lose 2 pounds a week, subtract 1000 calories per day.
Weight loss: Total Caloric Requirement – 500 calories = new calories per day
Of the calories you eat each day, 45%-65% should come from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fats. Your carbohydrates should be in the form of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. And don’t forget fluids! You should drink 1 ounce of fluid for each kilogram of weight you carry.
When you eat well and maintain a healthy weight, you may be surprised to find how much it will help many health issues you may be experiencing. You’ll feel healthy, full of energy, and ready to enjoy life!
• Sleep perchance to dream. Sleep is an essential part of reenergizing your mind, body, and immune system. There is a delicate balance between getting too little sleep and too much sleep. Too little sleep can cause impaired memory and thought processes, depression, decreased immune response, fatigue and increased pain. Adults should aim for 7.5 hours of sleep every night; if you miss that amount for a while, you create a sleep debt. You can make up the debt with an extra hour or two per night over the course of a week, but you can’t make it all up in one weekend. Consistency is important, so block off enough time each night to hit the goal of 7.5 hours. A psychiatry study of more than one million adults found that the people who live longest are those who get six to seven hours of sleep each night, so fluff up your pillow and settle in for a good night’s sleep.
• Brush your pearly whites. Research shows that gum disease is linked to health issues in other parts of the body. Brushing your teeth regularly not only prevents gum disease and tooth decay, it can improve your overall health too. Make sure your toothpaste has fluoride, which is the most effective preventive measure against dental cavities. Also foods that stimulate your salivary glands help protect against cavities. These include peanuts, hard cheeses and chewing gum.
• Skip the salt. Most health experts recommend that you consume less that 2300 mg of salt (sodium) per day in order to reduce your risk of high blood pressure. What you may not know is that is one teaspoon of salt. Another way to see this is to cup your hand tightly, then pour a small amount of salt into your palm. That’s your salt limit for the day. But it isn’t just the salt you put on your food. You must also look at salt that used to process the foods you eat, including canned and frozen food. Because high blood pressure can adversely affect all your body organs, it’s very important to do all you can to keep it at a healthy level (below 140/90 mmHg for most people).
• Keep your vision bright. There are four fundamentals ways you can protect your eyes and make sure you have the best vision possible for as long as possible.
First, protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Too much UV exposure increases your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. Choose sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Polarized lenses reduce glare when driving, and if you wear contact lenses, talk to your doctor about contacts that offer UV protection.
Second, if you love your eyes, stop smoking! You’re more likely to get cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration if you’re a smoker.
Third, visit your eye doctor yearly. Regular eye exams can help spot trouble early to help prevent or slow complications. Yearly exams also allow your doctor to check your any prescriptions you have to ensure your glasses and contacts are still correct.
Fourth, eating a well-balanced diet with essential minerals and vitamins is very important for good eyesight. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A and lutein. Lutein gives fruits and vegetables their yellow color, but is present in the highest quantities in dark, leafy green vegetables. Since your body doesn’t make lutein, you must constantly replace it through the foods you eat. You can take vitamins that are enriched with lutein if you feel you can’t get enough from diet alone.
• Hop, skip and jump. Exercise is one of the best natural medicines. It is essential for overall health, weight control, disease prevention, good circulation, stress reduction and helps you feel better about yourself. The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity every week, including muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work on all major muscle groups (arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips and legs).
For beginners or people who have not exercised in a while, start slowly and gradually build up. You can break up the exercise into smaller ten minute chunks of time during the day. This will help you to exercise at a moderate or more effort with rests in between.
• Relax and breathe. Stress is everywhere, but it’s the way you handle stress that intensifies the effect on your mind and body. The best way to handle stress is to figure out what is causing it. Then notice what you can and cannot control about the stressful situation. If you can’t control it, try to let it go. You can’t control the weather, so if it rains on a Saturday you were planning a bike ride with a friend, don’t sweat it. You can’t change the weather, but you can pick an indoor activity and still have a good time.
Time management is a big stress factor, but it’s definitely something you control. Plan your day so you aren’t late, and group similar tasks together so you don’t waste time going back and forth.
Set aside a few minutes each day to quietly be by yourself. Find a comfortable place and try to empty your mind of the pressing problems in your life. Calm the inner dialog in your head by focusing your mind on a place you enjoy. You can carry a picture with you (either a real photograph or an image in your mind) of a place you love or want to go to someday. Escape into the picture and believe you are there. Feel the surroundings: a breeze on your face, the sun on your arms, the sound of waves – or whatever it is that makes you feel calm and peaceful.
• Whistle while you work. You spend one-fourth or more of your time each week at the office. If you don’t like your job, this stress flows over into just about every other aspect of your life. Make a list of the pros and cons of your job. If there are just too many negatives, make a plan to find something new. After you leave you will have trouble remembering what bothered you so much. The rest of your life will still be ahead of you. When you love what you do, the positivity overflows to the rest of your life and the people you love. So, when it comes to your job, love it or leave it.
• Give so you may receive. Having purpose in life provides a driving force in all of us, and gives you a reason to get up in the morning with a spring in your step. When you help others, you receive so much in return, including gratitude and love that you may then pass on and on. Doing for others provides you with something you can’t achieve alone: a sense of belonging, contributing, and making the world a better place even for one small moment. Studies show that people who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness.
• See life from the sunny side. A positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. Some research suggests that positive, optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess. To help you keep a positive mind surround yourself with people who are uplifting and positive. Try to find the good in a bad situation, remove negative words from your thoughts, and remember that about 90 percent of the things you worry about never become reality.
More about Dr. Christine Lee:
Christine’s passion for helping patients help themselves stems from her personal experiences in over two decades as a pharmacist/clinician. Her broad contact with patients from all walks of life made her realize there was a knowledge gap for people with chronic diseases. They craved information, but had a difficult time finding what they needed, and understanding what they found. Christine’s desire to help patients with chronic illnesses became personal when her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14. This life-changing event was instrumental in leading Dr. Lee to create Optimal Life. Christine Lee received her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Stockton, California, and her B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Science from the University of Nevada, Reno. She is a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) and a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS). Licensed by the Boards of Pharmacy in both California and Nevada, she is also a certified Intrinsic Coach, and an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor with the Touro University College of Pharmacy. Dr. Lee’s professional affiliations include the American College of Managed Care Pharmacy, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, The American Society of Health System Pharmacists, and the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.
For more information, please visit http://www.optimalife.net