Advertising
Advertising

10 Reasons Why ‘Thinking Healthy’ Isn’t Enough To ‘Be Healthy’

10 Reasons Why ‘Thinking Healthy’ Isn’t Enough To ‘Be Healthy’

It’s no secret that the world in general is in fairly bad shape. Now, I’m not talking about wars, economic turmoil and shady politics, I’m focusing my attention on easily preventable health issues that have taken over the world. There’s a pandemic of obesity, heart disease and joint pains raging out there, and every single one of us should strive to be that brave soldier holding the front line. It’s easy to point at the government and ask them what they are going to do about these issues, but we all need to take control of our own lives and make some serious lifestyle changes if we want to improve our health.

Unfortunately, having a healthy mindset and obsessing about healthy living is not enough to actually make you healthier and stronger. Too many people these days manage to get the theoretical part right, but hardly ever get to apply what they have learned. Here are a few reasons why you need to do a bit more than just think healthy.

1. The best workout program won’t do you any good if you don’t stick to it

Sleeping in the gym

    Everyone knows that you need a good workout program to get the best results from your training. You need to plan out specific exercises, give the body enough time to recover, work in different types of training so that they don’t clash and cause other aspects of your fitness to stall – e.g. being too tired from running to lift weights afterwards – and work in a steady progression. This is all true, but sometimes we get caught up with choosing exercises and activities that we end up with an excellent plan, albeit for an advanced professional athlete.

    The thing is, a mediocre program that is written with your fitness level in mind and that you stick to religiously, will trump the best and most scientific programs that have too much workload for you to handle. In the same vein, if you keep skipping training sessions, and even go for a week or two without training, it doesn’t matter how well-rounded your routine is. Intensity and consistency are the things that will get you results. Keep training 2-4 days a week, get some light physical activity on your off days and you will see great results.

    Advertising

    2. By contemplating the best daily and weekly schedule, you keep yourself from actually making consistent progress

    Making a schedule

      So, say you have a decent training program and you stick to it. However, you still want to get all the possible health benefits, and this requires several different types of training. So you try to squeeze in 3 trips to the gym into your weekly schedule, on top of the 3-4 distance running days. Now you hear that all this hard impact isn’t good for the joints, so you turn two of your running days into swimming days. Maybe on Fridays you could go dancing instead of doing more boring forms of cardio. Yeah and maybe next week you can do exercises in the lower rep range for strength and some sprinting, or maybe you could sign up for MMA classes.

      You see where this is going. Instead of sticking to 1-3 activities – e.g. lifting weights on a good full body program, hopping on a stationary bike 2 times a week and going to dance class 2 times a week – you want to do 5-6 activities, and end up making incredibly slow progress in every area, feeling fatigued and possibly giving up on everything altogether. If you want to avoid injury and make steady progress, pick a couple of things and work on them as much as you can.

      3. Sleeping in and sitting around the house for 3 straight days is not “effective recovery”

      Man on couch underwater sculpture

        “Well, I’ve heard that the body needs time to recover, which means plenty of rest between training sessions”, you say to yourself and then you sit on the couch for the entire weekend eating takeout. Your body needs some rest, sure, but as long as you get 7-9 hours of sleep, stretch and eat enough healthy food, you can train every other day. Once you get good it can even be 5-6 days a week. Light activities like running or cycling at a slow steady pace or even some brisk walking can be done virtually every day.

        Advertising

        In fact, light activities such as these can be beneficial for recovery and help reduce muscle soreness. Don’t reward yourself with 3 days of lying around the house every time you do some moderately difficult physical activity, but do try to get more quality sleep, stretch and eat more protein, as well as fruit and vegetables.

        4. Blending some juice a couple of times a month to “cleanse” does not constitute a healthy diet

        Blender making a mess

          It might seem like a very healthy thing to do for people who don’t know much about nutrition or how the body works, but “cleanses” are not healthy at all. There’s nothing healthy about severely restricting your calories and only taking in certain micro and macronutrients at the detriment of others. Instead of eating an unhealthy diet and “making up for it” with a few days on nothing but magic [insert exotic geographical location] something berries in juice form, try to make better dietary choices on a daily basis. Limit junk food, sugary drinks and snacks, and go for more lean protein, fish, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and olive oil.

          5. Investing in tons of home gym equipment will not burn calories – you have to use it

          Rusty weights

            When we decide to change our lives there is no better way to cement our resolve and show the world our commitment than to immediately invest time and money into our health and fitness. However, many people will go out and buy all sorts of gym equipment – most notably stationary bikes, dumbbells, ab wheels, jump ropes and decline benches for sit-ups – only to use them once and leave them as overpriced dust collectors. Fitness equipment is not home décor. It is great to have a few items like these at home for those times when you can’t make it to the gym or if you don’t have a good gym near you, but you have to remind yourself to use the equipment regularly.

            Advertising

            6. Buying expensive juicers and stocking up on vegetables and buckwheat flour won’t do you any good if you can’t keep your urges under control

            Junk food and veggies on scale

              The same as fitness equipment, people buy quality kitchen appliances and stockpile healthy food, only to later order pizza because they don’t feel like going through the trouble of making a meal for themself. I find juicers in particular to be a waste of money for most people, as it can be much less of a hassle to just eat a bit of fruit and go on with your life than to prepare juice and clean up after. You can also drink much more juice than you would be able to eat fruit, so there’s the issue of calorie control to think about as well. The bottom line is, find relatively healthy fast food restaurant alternatives, but also learn a bit about cooking and prepare some food in advance, because you will sometimes need a quick meal.

              7. Focusing on a few “superfoods” needlessly restricts your micro nutrient intake

              Superfood

                We’ve touched on this briefly before with “cleanses”. Once people hear about the best 3-4 foods for health or weight loss, they jump on the bandwagon and start eating nothing but those a few select foods. As much as it is healthier and better for weight control to eat broccoli, brown rice, kale, a bunch of berries, chicken breast, some nuts and bananas, it’s not going to give your body all the micronutrients it needs and you may very well be overloading on some, which is not healthy at all. This is why you should focus on a diverse diet where you eat different kinds of food throughout the week – everything from leafy green vegetables, legumes and chicken, to potatoes, fish and tomatoes.

                8. No matter how healthy your meal choices are, you’ll gain weight if you don’t control your appetite

                Advertising

                Huge veggetables

                  Another big point about healthy food is that it will pack pound on you and even get you obese if you eat a lot of it. Gorillas and elephants are strict vegetarians, who feast mostly on leaves, and yet they are enormous. There were also plenty of fat people in Greece last time I checked, and they eat an incredibly healthy Mediterranean diet. This should tell you more about nutrition than any slick healthy food marketing ploy. So, try to make healthy diet choices, but keep your appetite in check as being overweight carries a whole host of health risks, regardless of what foods got you to that point.

                  9. Doing only 1-2 minutes of warm up and stretching is a sure-fire way to get injured during training

                  Weird baseball pitcher pose

                    Someone with a healthy mindset will preach about the importance of all aspects of fitness, particularly dynamic and static stretching, warming up before training and exercises geared toward improving mobility and posture. Yet when you look at even some fitness trainers at the gym, they will do a few jumping jacks and a minute or two of twisting and turning before jumping into a workout, and then another minute of stretching afterwards. This is not a good thing, as it will lead to cumulative injuries and issues with mobility and proper posture down the line. Do 5 minutes of light cardio and 5 minutes of dynamic stretching before your workout, and then 5 minutes of light cardio as a cool down followed by 12-15 minutes of static stretching after you’ve completed the workout.

                    10. When you set incredibly idealistic goals you are setting yourself up for failure

                    Reality sign

                      Someone with a healthy and goal-oriented mindset might look at what’s possible to achieve in terms of fitness and overall health in a certain period of time, and then set a bunch of idealistic goals. However, while striving to achieve as much as you possibly can is great, once you start failing to reach unrealistic goals you will begin to lose motivation and even get depressed about the situation. This is bad for both your mental and physical health. Instead, try looking at what is possible to achieve for an average person and set your initial goals a bit lower. This way you will feel great if you exceed these average goals, and won’t miss your target even if you don’t do everything right.

                      Being healthy takes a lot of work and patience, and while a healthy mindset is definitely good for staying motivated and focused, it is not enough to reach your fitness goals. This is one of those cases where it is better to be a doer instead of a thinker.

                      More by this author

                      Ivan Dimitrijevic

                      Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

                      40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day 50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them 8 Fun and Unique Birthday Party Ideas for People in Their 20s 50 Cleaning Hacks for Your Home That Will Make Your Life Easier 9 Unexpected Benefits Of Foot Massage That Make You Want To Have One Now

                      Trending in Health

                      1 What Is Clean Eating (Essential Tips + Clean Eating Meal Plan) 2 Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It) 3 8 Best Multivitamins For Men, Women And Kids 4 How to Stop Overeating the Healthy Way (Step-by-Step Guide) 5 10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on November 12, 2020

                      Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

                      Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

                      If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                      If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                      In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                      What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                      If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                      Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                      • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
                      • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
                      • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                      • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
                      • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                      • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
                      • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                      Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

                      Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                      Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

                      1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
                      2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                      3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                      The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                      Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                      You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

                      Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

                      If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

                      Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                      Advertising

                      Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

                      Symptoms of fatigue include:

                      • Difficulty concentrating
                      • Low stamina
                      • Difficulty sleeping
                      • Anxiety
                      • Low motivation

                      These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                      Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                      How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                      The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                      Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                      Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

                        The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                        Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                        Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

                        If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                        It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                        Advertising

                        4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                        Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                        1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                        2. Exercising regularly
                        3. Using stressbusters
                        4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                        After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                        I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                        Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                        • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
                        • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
                        • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                        • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                        The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

                        Living Healthy

                        Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

                        In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

                        As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                        Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                        1. Unplug

                        Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

                        Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                        2. Unwind

                        Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                        Advertising

                        3. Get Comfortable

                        Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                        Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                        Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

                        This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                        Exercise

                        Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                        That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

                        I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

                        If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                        Attitude

                        Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                        When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

                        But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

                        Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

                        Advertising

                        1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
                        2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
                        3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
                        4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
                        5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
                        6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

                        This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                        When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

                        Nutrition

                        Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                        If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

                        Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                        Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                        1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                        2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
                        3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
                        4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
                        5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                        6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
                        7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
                        8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
                        9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

                        Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                        That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                        Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

                        The Bottom Line

                        If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

                        If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

                        Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                        More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

                        Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                        [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                        [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                        [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                        [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
                        [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
                        [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                        [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                        [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
                        [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                        [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

                        Read Next