Guest Post: Tips for Achieving Optimal Health

To anyone that knows me, it’s no surprise that I am in to healthy living.  I try my best to eat healthy, attend CrossFit regularly, and I truly believe in that whole concept that our body is our temple.  That’s why when Healthline contacted me about hosting a guest post for them, I jumped at the opportunity!  Please welcome Leslie Vandever, from Healthline, as she gives us her tips for achieving optimal health!

health465

**

Optimal health. What a concept! What would it take to be totally healthy in every way?

Well, we’d never be able to splurge on a super-sweet snack or stay up too late and deprive ourselves of a full eight healthy hours of sound sleep. We’d enjoy push-ups and jogging and never get depressed. Our posture would be perfect and we’d never carry a pound more or less than the optimum weight for our age, gender, height and build. We’d never, ever be plagued by a cold or the flu.

Actually, maybe “optimal health” wouldn’t be very much fun. Not very realistic, either. But there’s nothing to say that we can’t try. And so in the spirit of the late, great John Harvey Kellogg, who once said “Keep your feet on the earth and your head up, but not too high in the sky. Be humble,” let’s find out what we can do to be healthier.

Eat mindful

Developing healthy eating habits doesn’t take a diet book, just some common sense. Choose what you eat for each meal from the different food groups—vegetables and fruits, whole grains, protein from fish, lean meats, beans, or eggs, and finally, low-fat dairy products. Sugary foods should be reserved as a once-in-while treat, no more.

Drink six to eight coffee-cups full of water per day. Choose water instead of soda-pop when you’re out. Your body will function better if it’s well-hydrated.

Say no to highly processed and fast foods. They’re loaded with calories, salt, sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, and saturated fat. Instead, cook your meals fresh. Read the nutritional labels and know what you’re eating.

Get a yearly health exam

Your doctor will run tests and examine you to check several common health indicators, such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels. The idea is to catch problems before they start or catch them early, when they can be treated with the greatest success. By paying attention to your physical health, you’ll know what needs to be done to get closer to your “optimum health” goal.

Get some sleep

Sleep is vital. The average adult needs about seven hours of sleep every night for optimum health. How can you make sure you catch your Z’s?

  • Go to bed each night and get up each morning at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room with no distractions. That means no computer or TV.
  • If you’re having trouble “shutting your brain down,” try counting your breaths. When your mind tries to chase off on another tangent, gently bring it back to your breath and resume counting. Often, that’s all you’ll need to drift off.
  • If you still have trouble after trying the tips above, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to help.

Move that body

Humans were made to move. But today’s culture keeps many of us stuck behind a desk and, when we get home, too whipped to do more than watch TV or surf the Internet. What to do?

  • For five minutes, three times a day, stand up, stretch and do some gentle weight-bearing exercises with small hand-weights or resistance bands. Run in place or walk around the block, fast.
  • Next, add a brisk, 15-minute walk each day during your lunch hour.

If you do these exercises, you’ll be meeting the Mayo Clinic’s exercise guidelines for adults. It adds up to two-and-a-half hours a week of moderate exercise. Yay you! You’re well on your way to optimum health.

For more health information, click here.

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer. She also writes a blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis called RheumaBlog, under the pen-name “Wren.” In her spare time, Vandever enjoys cooking, reading and working on the Great American Novel.

References:

The Night Train

It purrs softly in the dark of the night.

“Hurry!,” A. shrieks as I press my foot on the clutch and shift into third gear.  We’re a half mile away from where the pavement curls up to meet the wooden and metal tracks that divide our town equally in half. The lead foot in me wants to beat it before it starts howling.

“Did you see Ryan and Marissa’s fight last night on the OC?” A. shouts over the screeching as I slam on the brakes.  We fail to hit the safety gate by inches.  I let out a slow exhale.

“I missed it,” I say.  “I was working on a paper for AP European History.” Why, again, did I take AP European History my senior year?

“Oh,” A. responds.  “You have to see it – Marissa just can’t understand Ryan’s past and forgive him for that comment he said in last week’s episode!  I just don’t get it.”

Truth be told – the OC has been a favorite of my group of friends for a while now.  Most weeks, we gather at one of our family’s houses to watch it together.  The show’s drama, the clashing personalities, the underage mistakes all feel eerily familiar somehow.

The train is billowing past us, at this point, as I look off to its smoke in the distance.

I can’t help, but wonder where it’s going.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

**

Seven minutes later, we find ourselves parked in front of A.’s boyfriend’s friend’s parent’s house.  A distant relation we sought out for a night of acting far beyond our age.  His parents are either away for the evening or highly ignoring the situation on the first floor of the home – details worth avoiding, for now.  My heel stabs a crinkled beer can as we exit my dad’s red candy apple sports car.

We step into the house softly as a wall of stale Natural Light and lingering cigarette smoke smacks us in the face.  I recognize about 5 of the 26 youth packed in  like sardines around the living room table.  Half empty cans, strewn about the family photos and fabric floral displays, decorate the room surrounding them.  One of the familiar faces wraps his arm around me.  “Hey, so glad you guys could make it!,” he whispers, far too energetically, into my ear.  Did he even know we were coming? I think. But, I take the compliment, anyways.

A. holes up in the corner with her boy as I realize I’m in for a long night.  A few failed attempts at meaningful conversation and finding a beer pong partner later, my mind starts drifting.  At home, stacks of college pamphlets wait for me on my bedroom floor. They’ve been there for weeks, but I hardly tend to notice.  I’ll look at them someday.

The reality is that I’m terrified to read them. I want so badly to stand still in this moment, and let the world circle around me.  I want to refuse to leave the familiar.  I want to refuse to let go of everything I’m holding on to in this hometown of mine.  Who can let go of episodes of the OC and random people’s houses?

One of the strangers stands up shakily.  “I think I might be sick,” he mutters as he slips out the back door.

**

I drop A. off at home and steer my dad’s car back to our home a few blocks away.  As I turn on to one of my hometown’s busy roads, I hear its whistle.  Another one purring in the distance, just a little more seductively.

I enter my parents’ front door and make sure to dead bolt it behind me.  A custom ritual never forgotten.  As I glide past the stack of college pamphlets near my bed, I grab a couple to look at in the morning.

When the next train comes to town, I want to be ready for the ride.

Got a moon and a billion stars
Sound of steel and old boxcars
The thought of you is driving me insane
Come on, baby, let’s go listen to the night train
~Jason Aldean

**

The Spartan Race and protein powder giveaway winner is entry #5.  Jordan – please look for an email from me!!