There’s something about the start of another year that generates a motivation to change, which is probably why over 50% of New Year’s Resolutions revolve around getting healthy.
Because of that push, I wanted to post the first level of Understand Healthy to give a better idea of how it works for those considering the program.
First, here are a couple reminders about why it’s important to get a handle on your health and the sooner the better.
If you’re 150lbs at age 20 and aren’t intentional about a healthy lifestyle, in 30 years you’ll be nearly 200lbs. While 50 pounds in 30 years may seem normal – it doesn’t have to be – that average yearly weight gain could be even higher. Plus, your risk of chronic diseases heightens at just an extra 10lbs.
When you combine that average yearly 1-2 extra lbs with likelihood of adding the most weight between ages 25-35, it shows the importance of learning healthy habits earlier in life and continuing to implement them as you age.
Understand Healthy is a program anyone can implement no matter your age or limitation. You don’t have to be a Christian to do it because it’s ultimately for anyone wanting to cultivate lasting lifestyle change. That said, I did write it with a few specific contexts in mind.
If you’re interested in the program, whether you fit into any of those scenarios or not, let me explain how level one works. It’s a simple concept meant to instill discipline and progressively exchange unhealthy habits for healthy ones over time.
Level one lasts three weeks, just like the other program levels. On level one you have four options (healthy habits) to pick from, which I’ve listed below. Following each choice is a brief explanation of why that habit is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle.
Whichever habit you choose is a decision based on our initial health and nutrition assessment and will be your focus for the following three weeks. After that, you’ll move onto level two, while keeping your previous habit from level one. The program continues to build from there.
Many Americans drink their calories from beverages like soft drinks, lattes, teas, and juices, which is a quick way to consume excess calories. But it also usually guarantees you aren’t getting enough water. In fact, studies show nearly 75% of Americans are regularly dehydrated, which can lead to headaches, constipation, memory loss, fatigue, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections.
Water is vital to many of the body’s functions; plus, your body is 55-75% water! The baseline amount you need is half your body weight in ounces of water. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, you need a minimum of 80 ounces of water a day. But if you get sweaty from a workout, gardening, walking the dog, etc, you’ll need more than that. Try getting a reusable water bottle so you can keep track of the ounces you’re drinking. For that 160-pound person, buy a bottle that holds 40 ounces, fill it up, and drink it twice.
Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast isn’t good for the body and even raises your risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, even heart disease. It also typically leads to eating more calories later. Your body goes without food while sleeping. When you wake up, you literally need to ‘break the fast’, which is what breakfast is!
You require energy to get up and going in the morning after a night’s rest. While you sleep, your body still burns calories to function, though not as many as when you’re awake. Eating within an hour of waking up is best to provide energy at the beginning of your day. Not to mention, it is a great way to boost your metabolism because eating gets it going as you start your day. So, fuel your body in the mornings with a well-balanced breakfast of a whole grain carbohydrate, healthy fat, and lean protein.
The recommendation is 10,000 steps a day, an average of 5 miles depending on your walking pace. But if you don’t get anywhere close to that, start with a smaller number to work up to first like 8,000 steps. If you work from home, take short walk breaks during the day. If possible at the office, take a 5-10 minute walk break every couple of hours. Aim for at least 30 active minutes each day to get those 10,000 steps in. Compare that to the average sedentary person who only gets 2,000-3,000 steps a day, which is why sitting is often associated with weight gain.
Sugar is sneaky. It’s in just about everything we consume. The average person only needs 25-30 grams of naturally occurring sugar a day. Your body doesn’t need any sources of added sugar. Common sources of added sugars are soft drinks, tea, flavored coffee/lattes, desserts, processed foods, cereals, pre-made sauces and dressings, smoothies, and yogurt. You want to avoid these sources of added sugars and eat natural sugar sources like fructose (sugar in fruits) and lactose (sugar in dairy).
Hopefully, that gives you a better idea of how Understand Healthy works. Lifestyle change is achieved by intentional choices sustained day after day. Once those intentional choices become more of a habit, they can be integrated into your everyday routine and go on to produce sustainable, lasting change.
Learn more about Understand Healthy here.
If you want to read more about why it’s important to get a handle on our health, especially as Christians, read my previous series on the obesity epidemic.