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Knowing when to make lifestyle changes

Don’t you wish you could retain everything you’ve ever learned? I do. The moment that lightbulb in your brain first goes off is beautiful. You understand the information, can share it on a moment’s notice, and can speak confidently about it.

Then a few weeks or months go by and when that topic comes up in conversation, you hesitate. If possible, you refer to the notes, book, or website you used to learn the information before giving a response. You don’t want to speak wrongfully or mislead anyone, so you become more cautious. Use it or lose it, I’m afraid.

The information that means something to us personally or impacts us daily is all that we really retain long term. You may not need anyone to remind you how to make scrambled eggs, you do it all the time, but could you tell someone why eggs are a great choice for breakfast? They’re a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals. And science is now telling us that the cholesterol in the egg has little to no impact on blood cholesterol levels. So there’s no reason NOT to eat eggs. Besides, they’re pretty cheap.

If you didn’t already know that, do you think you’ll remember it well enough in a month to defend the egg to your coworkers?

Remember what’s important

Retaining information is a real struggle, and that’s why I try to connect the knowledge I gain to real life as much as possible. The connection helps me to remember. Right now, I’m reading a book titled Prescription Alternatives and it contains A LOT of information. I selected this book because it is part of the curriculum for a nutrition course I was looking into and I want to know as much about good health as I can.

According to my Kindle, I have another 21 hours of reading to go before I finish this book. There’s no way I’m going to remember everything in it. But somethings are too important to forget, and though I’ve only scratched the surface of the content so far, I know I will remember the main points:

  1. Many people start taking prescription drugs for issues that can be prevented or reversed by making lifestyle changes. However, taking a pill seems easier, so they go on the medication and continue making the same unhealthy choices as before.
  2. All medications have side effects, and some may become so severe that they cause new issues that need to be treated. So taking one drug leads to taking another drug, which leads to another drug and another drug and so on. Drugs also impact the way your body absorbs and digests food. Without knowing it, you can become deficient in vitamins and minerals that are important to keeping all your body’s systems functioning properly.
  3. The improper use of prescription drugs leads to addiction and serious, if not fatal, complications. Some of it is unintentional because people don’t realize how their lifestyle choices impact the way their bodies respond to the medication, not to mention not knowing how one drug you take will interact with another. They unknowingly consume the wrong foods and drinks while on the medication and land themselves in the ER. On the other side, pairing certain drugs with food render those medications useless.

You can easily see how complicated this can be when you take several medications.

Lifestyle changes that work

Diabetes and high blood pressure are two common health issues that people take medication for. Both of these can be treated by making lifestyle changes instead of going on medication; if not right away, then over time as the individual regains their health by making healthy choices.

Small changes big results.png

So what are these lifestyle changes that can help prevent your medicine cabinet from filling up with prescription drugs? They’re quite simple actually.

Avoid processed foods.

If something comes in a package then it’s processed. Whenever possible, choose whole foods instead, such as the apple instead of the fruit snacks or the sweet potato instead of the french fries.  Always look for foods made with 100% whole wheat. Read the ingredients to make sure “whole wheat flour” is the #1 ingredient because the label itself may be misleading. Enriched flour is not the same thing. If sugar is within the top five ingredients, choose something else. Frozen fruits and vegetables are still great options, but read the labels to make sure nothing was added to them before they were frozen.

Become a label connoisseur.

Eat fruits and vegetables.

Lots of them. Aim for a fruit or vegetable with every meal. Don’t substitute fruit juice for fruit, they’re not the same thing. Juice contains more sugar and none of the fiber.

Eat protein at every meal.

Proteins are the building blocks of your body. You need protein to build and maintain muscle, as well as synthesize important hormones. Instead of thinking about ways to cut unhealthy foods out, try to think of ways to add protein to your diet. I bet you’ll find that the protein satisfies you so that you no longer have space in your stomach for the rest.

Eat healthy fats.

Low-fat diets aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Our bodies need fat! Eat steak and drink milk. Pour olive oil over some air-popped popcorn. Grab a handful of nuts. Have eggs for breakfast. You’ll be pleased with the results. And so will your gallbladder.

Strength train 3-4 times a week.

If you’re not regularly working out your muscles, you’re probably losing muscle mass. This makes you more prone to injury and leaves you with less stamina to get through the day. Muscle cells require more fuel than fat cells, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even while at rest. The only thing you lose when you build muscle is fat.

If you’re new to strength training, focus on three movements: squat, pull, and push. That’s all you need for a strong, healthy body.

Do cardio 2-3 times a week.

Your heart is a muscle and it needs to be strengthened as well. Get your heart rate up and keep it up for at least 20 minutes at a time. You don’t have to be a runner or cyclist to do this. Walking, dancing, and swimming are all great forms of cardio. And if you practice high-intensity interval training (HIIT) then you’ll get your heart rate up while you build muscle. Double win!

Your take away

Before taking a prescription medication, ask your doctor if it’s really necessary and whether or not lifestyle changes will improve your condition. A gym membership, or equipment for a home gym, and nutritious food may seem like a big expense, but it’s not as expensive as constant medical bills.

If you do go on medication, read the fact sheet provided by your pharmacist and research the drug for yourself. Educate yourself on the side effects and possible complications that can arise when taking the drug. Knowing this information could save your life, or, at the very least, prevent other issues from being created.

If you make healthy living a daily priority, you will simplify your life.

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