“At least you’ve got your health…” This somewhat over-used cliche or soundbite is one frequently spouted by well-meaning folk as a consolation to the slings and arrows life throws at us.
Somebody suffering from the misfortune of a broken heart, financial difficulties, a lost business opportunity or a fall of grace or luck in the employment stakes, may find themselves being called upon to count their blessings in other areas or facets of their lives.
However, good health and vitality should not be seen as mere consolation prizes in the game of life; they should be considered basic and unalienable human rights and as such, things we should all strive for.
As we get older, it becomes both more important and more difficult, perhaps, to stay in shape. Important because we have responsibilities which include people depending upon us, and difficult because of time restraints, and changes in our bodies’ natural metabolism and processes. When we are younger we are able to bore easily burn off calories and by simply following the process of keeping active, we – generally speaking – stave off having too many medical difficulties or handicaps.
However, that all changes once we reach our thirties with the onset of “middle-aged” spread. Whereas prior to hitting this important landmark, we may have been able to control our weight and general fitness by simply being a bit careful with our calorie intake and trying to ensure we take some sort of semi-regular exercise, the dawning of the big three-oh seems to usher in some sort of seismic barrier from which there is a point of no return.
So, how can we attempt to stay on top of things and usher in a healthier lifestyle? Many of us find the desire is strong but the will is weak when it comes to things such as dieting, while others amongst us are torn by the maxim “you only live once” and so have no real ambition to even attempt to cut down on those sugary snacks and choccy treats. Reaching some sort of balance or compromise would then appear to be one way to go.
The pandemic affected us all in various ways and it’s fair to say that pretty much nobody emerged from lockdown and then working from home unscathed. For some, the increased close proximity with the fridge and food cupboards in our houses resulted in a daily battle of the bulge, while others were actually able to go the other way and took the opportunity to change their dietary intakes and thus emerged from lockdown in a new slimmed-down shape.
Too often, though, we only diet or change our eating habits when we are forced to or have no alternative. Speaking from personal experience, I was never more committed to getting into shape and shedding a few kilos than when I suffered worrying medical ailments and was informed in no uncertain terms that failure to follow a more wholesome diet was likely to result in severe and immediate repercussions.
There are various different “real” diets and fasting programmes espoused by supporters and these include, the Atkins Diet; intermittent fasting; meat-free arrangements; vegan alternatives; and any combination of these. Other more relaxed and “less official” forms include the concept of simply cutting down on junk food and the aforementioned “naughty-but-nice” bakeries and confectionery.
Basically put, whatever works best for you should be the path that you follow. Following a sensible eating plan does not need to – and, in fact, shouldn’t – result in being hungry and miserable all the time. If done correctly, a change in eating habits should not usually result in a decrease in intake, but rather a change in what is consumed. Instead of snacking on biscuits while gulping a cole down, an apple and a glass of water or tea would fill the same gap, for instance.
Exercise is also important and there is no need to be worried if you are returning to sport or activity after a long absence as the old saying, “It doesn’t have to hurt” is certainly true. Just regular light exercise will soon have you feeling – and looking – a lot fresher and thus happier within yourself. If it can be squeezed in, then a brief walk, or light jog, around the neighbourhood a couple or three times a week will soon see a shift in both fitness levels and attitude. If swimming or cycling appeals more than actively using your feet, then why not? Anything really that gets the heart pumping is good for us and will have beneficial effects on our outlooks.
Also important is finding time to relax. Yes, I know we are all busy and we have so many commitments, but it is important to try and switch off if we can and take the opportunity to indulge in some guilty-free “me” time. This could be reading a book, watching a film, chatting with friends, or simply having downtime with the family. Whatever you prefer to do, try and timetable it into your schedule as your mental and spiritual health are just as important as your physical one.
Beauty and skin-care products and procedures can also assist us in our efforts to stay and feel healthy. These work in as much as they may assist our bodies in the battle against ageing and can range from simple creams and ointments to the more drastic measures of implants or botox procedures. While the latter procedures may be seen by some as taking matters to their limits, it can be argued that anything that makes us feel happier within ourselves and does not harm others, is not necessarily a bad thing.
In closing, our health – both mental and physical – is our most important attribute because without it most if not all aspects of our lives will suffer. We need to stay fit and healthy in order to remain useful and productive members of society and to ensure we fulfil our personal potential in life.
So, good luck everyone and here’s to a happier and healthier “New You“.