Let’s face it, sometimes it’s difficult to take care of ourselves the way we should. I know it’s tough. Life gets in the way, especially when there’s an event, a deadline is looming, or things just catch up with us. And, when we’re faced with the choice between a little work to look after ourselves and convenience, convenience often wins.

But, maintaining a healthy lifestyle should come first. It’s not all about diet and exercise though. Even at my fitness peak, I realized I needed more than just great workouts and nutritious meals to look after myself.

I realized that even with being fit and relatively healthy, I still had days where I felt burnt out and sluggish. So, I thought I’d share my secrets to a healthy life that don’t include just diet and exercise.
  1. Adequate Sleep
When life is demanding, you end up burning the midnight oil, don’t you? I know I do. Or did. I’d get to work early, leave late only to get home and carry on working. I’d eventually crawl into bed, just to do it all over again. I felt like I was under a constant and heavy fog.

Even if your life truly demands you wear the hats of both early bird and night owl, there are things you can do to make sure you get enough rest.

Sleep deprivation, you see, is linked to higher levels of stress, lower brain function, and higher blood pressure. In short, if you’re not getting adequate sleep, your performance suffers.

So, how can you combat chronic sleeplessness? It’s not as difficult as you think.

Create and stick to a regular schedule. If you work from home, say, create defined work hours and give yourself ample time to unwind when your work day is done.

Secondly, when your alarm goes off in the morning, get up. Oversleeping just messes with your sleep cycle.
  1. Manage Stress
As if stress wasn’t annoying enough, it also has a sneaky effect on your weight. When your stress levels soar, your stress hormones (cortisol) increase. In turn, insulin sensitivity decreases, leading to a build-up of belly fat.

Think of it like this: those stress cravings you have aren’t just psychological. Your decrease in insulin sensitivity and spike in insulin happens when you’re anxious and that, in turn, means your blood sugar drops. All of this stimulates your appetite, which means you reach for the closest snacks.

What’s more, studies are looking into the way stress affects weight on a molecular level. According to experts, glucocorticoids – your body’s natural steroid cells – are produced when your body fights off inflammation. Your glucocorticoid levels rise and fall naturally, but if you’re in a constant state of stress, those levels are constantly high and that results in a higher conversion of fat cells.

While you can see that it’s not just exercise and diet that keeps your body in line, you need to learn how to identify and control your stress triggers if you truly want to be healthier.
  1. Meditation
I can’t talk about combating stress and getting restful sleep without talking about meditation. Meditation has an excellent reputation for helping us to stay cool, calm, and collected. It can change the body by way of the brain, too, while reducing blood pressure and improving anxiety – all important for combatting stress and relaxing before bedtime.
  1. Proper Hydration
I know you don’t need yet another reason to drink enough water, but not getting enough can impact your health, wellness, and weight. When you don’t get adequate water, your cells signal the brain that more fluid is needed. That’s when it’s easy to confuse thirst signals with hunger signals. Instead of letting that happen, check in with yourself and remember to stay hydrated. Best of all, drinking enough water can assist with weight loss. Studies show that increased water intake increases metabolism and the fat breakdown process, aiding in weight loss!
  1. Be Happy
There’s loads of evidence out there that shows us that happy, optimistic people live longer, healthier lives. So, how many of you consider happiness an integral part of your healthy lifestyle? You should.

Hand-in-hand with happiness is positivity and gratitude. A healthy, positive attitude can help build a healthier immune system and boost your health overall. Your body is wired to believe what you think, and when you get enough sleep, combat stress and stay hydrated, you’re more focused and that helps you remain happy and positive.

A long and healthy life isn’t all about food and workouts. It’s a combination of positive lifestyle elements.

What do you do, other than diet and exercise, to be healthy?


Find more lifestyle tips at marksalinas.com.