Monday, February 1, 2010

Moderation: Key to Better Health

Are you constantly worried about your health? Do you beat yourself up because you couldn’t squeeze in the half an hour of workout? Are you constantly checking calories profile on the backs of boxes? Do you carry a journal detailing everything you eat? Or didn’t eat? Are you paranoid just because you have just enjoyed that delectable chocolate cheesecake? Do you lose sleep over your sleeping patterns? The list can go on and on…and on.

If you’re too hung up on health and the myriad of health solutions that have been dished out by health experts, books, the media and talk-show hosts, even your own berating voice—breathe! A new book out on the market, Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health, gives you permission to relax and take this health thing in your stride. The authors, Dr. Love, clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and co-author, Alice D. Domar, a Harvard professor and senior staff psychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center contend that perfect health is a myth and that attaining health is easier than you think.

Good health, even optimal health is within reach. In one simple all-compassing concept?—moderation. The happy M word sums up the new liberating concept to avoid extremes. Punishing yourself into shape or letting yourself go because you feel overwhelmed by your health conditions can backfire—both extremes carry inherent health problems. Dr. Love pointed out that people who are obese or underweight have higher mortality rates. She says, “The goal is to be healthy and have as good of a quality of life as you can have. It’s not to be thin.”

What does this advice translate to in practical terms? It’s alright to slip sometimes in your quest for good health, just as long as you don’t slide down the slippery slopes of letting yourself go. If that sounds too nebulous --let’s explore some practical ways.

Don’t be afraid to eat the full-cream ice-cream and the dark chocolate shavings on top. Instead of a full meal later, try some vegetable soup beefed up with whole grains like barley or red beans. It satisfies your need for food without a whole lot of calories. If you need some protein, opt for low-fat lean meat like fish or chicken. So, what’s the bottom line?—balance your food choices—offset your high-calorie foods with low-calorie foods. Foods like vegetables, whole grain, and fruits can fill you up without hefty calories count.

What about exercise? Exercising for long periods of time or pushing your body to accomplish great physical acts may produce a healthy body but what if you can’t put in the time or the effort? Again the above health experts say—relax and go for the middle ground. . If you miss your morning workout—don’t sweat it-- make up for it by parking your car a distance from where you are going and let your legs do the work. Many people equate exercise with equipment or gadget or even a building. Truth is, exercise can be done anywhere, anytime. Example: If you’re waiting for the water to heat up before a shower, do a few squats or jog in place. If you’re stuck in traffic—do some tummy crunches. These may be little attempts but they do add up.

Practice moderation and you will find that you’re happier. Good health is not a magic number or a perceived state of ideal. Good health is general well-being and it is more attainable through realistic goals and moderate measures. Not constantly stressing over your health conditions can produce another health benefit—less stress hormones and in the long run, more health dividends.

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