Each January, people of all ages resolve to be more fit, eat healthier and dabble in some new and exciting hobbies that have been shelved for far too long. Living by a food, fitness and fun mentality is what I’ve always believed will fuel our souls and help us build in some moderation and restraint for each area.
And, there’s the rub! We mean well, we really do. But, more times than not, we undo our own good intentions by not quite getting where to draw the line between healthy practices and excess. We start off on the right foot with healthy practices but often go overboard and then burn out very quickly, abandoning the new ways for the old, unhealthy ways before the grass pokes through the snow.
If you look a bit deeper at what drives us from getting off track, it’s typically one of a handful of health myths that permeate our society. Here are my favorite, the ones I hear most often:
Myth 1: If you exercise or play a sport you will be fit (or are fit).
Myth 2: Any sleep is better than no sleep and will keep your body functioning well.
Myth 3: It’s ok to eat too much or too little once in a while.
The reality of each couldn’t be further from the myth!
1. Myth 1 Reality:
In truth, being fit is about doing the right exercise in the right way with a mix of aerobic activities and weight bearing exercises. It’s important that our entire body gets moving every week and most of us don’t do that. Sports are fun and have the camaraderie of the team aspect but don’t make us fit given how long we play and the intensity of the play.
So, if you just shoot hoops with the guys or girls, play golf, or play in a baseball or softball league, you won’t be fit. But, if you add biking, jogging, walking, swimming and some weight lifting a couple times a week…you’re much more on your way!
2. Myth 2 Reality:
Our bodies require at least 8 hours of sleep to function well. During sleep, our muscles, nerves, mind and soul repair itself from the day’s wear and tear. If sleep is short-changed, that repair process becomes incomplete and our body isn’t reset to it’s steady state. We do ok with less sleep once in a while but if we short-change sleep chronically, our bodies begin to not function well and other symptoms begin to develop – headaches, GI symptoms, even muscle cramping and pain.
Too much sleep can actually make us feel more tired and doesn’t “catch up” for missed sleep from another time.
It’s best to attempt to have steady sleep as much as possible and if sleep becomes chronically disrupted to consult your physician to help get it back on track.
3. Myth 3 Reality:
Eating must be balanced and regular. Our bodies require a certain amount of calories each day and in the right proportion to function well. If we eat too little, we short change our bodies of valuable calories for energy and nutrients for our body’s systems. If we eat too much, our body has to deal with the excess and we feel punky. Best to strive for a “just right” amount whenever possible.
So, this new year work on busting these myths to get your food, fitness and fun on the path to good health in a way that not only will count but will stick around long term.