5 ways to REALLY be healthy

Mikael breaks down and reflects on his personal tips on staying healthy year-round, both physically and mentally

In today’s society where diet pills, magic remedies and health hack ads are rampant it’s important to remember that physical health isn’t something you can improve with the snap of a finger. Whether your goal is to get bigger, smaller or simply feel better, here are some solid foundations to hopefully put you on the right track.

Also, side-note: the best thing you can do for your health is to not stress over it! Stress is scientifically proven to bruk your brain and body so the first step to getting healthy is to (as cheesy as it sounds) adopt a positive mental attitude! The body and the mind go hand-in-hand, so providing a healthy foundation for your body’s health journey should always come first. ALSO, just reading this list isn’t gonna make you healthier so get up and get on it!

Water consumption

I’m gonna cut the cliché “the human body is made up of around 60% water” statements and get straight into it.  Everyone knows water is one of the fundamental components of a healthy lifestyle, but how much water should you drink? An age-old but simple way of guesstimating if you’re consuming the right amount of water is by looking at your pee. If your pee is colourless to very light congratulations – you’re adequately hydrated! If your pee looks yellow to dark, drink more water! There are many speculations on how much water you should drink, but fact of the matter is, everybody’s bodies are different so require different amounts of water. When you take into consideration those of us who work out, as well as our varying heights, weights, sexes and ages it becomes a whole lot more complicated. However, to give one of many reference guidelines a good place to start is this chart right here.

Starting the day with a glass of water thirty minutes before breakfast is a good way of getting the basis for your water intake for the day.  Drinking more water helps speed up your metabolic rate aiding fat loss whilst also flushing contaminates from the system for better bowel movements and a clearer colon. Water also helps to keep skin moisturised aiding in the deceleration of wrinkles and aging skin. As well as boosting brain activity, water helps to keep your organs fully functional while keeping the joints lubricated. Drinking water can also be an appetite deterrent which is helpful if you’re one to comfort eat and snack a lot between big meals. Basically, for most problems in the body, water can help! In the wise words of Mick Jenkins, “Drink more water, or you might die.”

 

You are what you eat

Consuming a specific number of calories a day to gain or lose weight isn’t as black and white as you think it is. What those calories consist of is what really matters. The average woman should aim to eat 2000 calories per day, whilst the average man should consume 2500 for weight maintenance. Whatever the ‘average’ man and woman look like here is a personalised calorie checker for you to decipher how much you need. Calorie intake will vary in deficit or surplus depending on if you’re trying to gain or lose weight. An example of the difference between calories could be the difference between refined/processed sugars and protein-rich calories. Protein-rich calories aid in muscle gain/maintenance, lower blood pressure, help energise and invigorate organs and hormones whilst also fighting diseases like diabetes. Compare this to calories filled with refined sugars and the results of eating the same amount in calories is far different. Refined sugar is not only addictive, it also provides sharp spikes in energy followed by a steep crash a few hours later. This is due to the carbs being easy to digest, meaning you are likely to consume far more to feel full.

2000 calories a day is not a feasible way of maintaining weight or toning unless those specific calories serve your health and fitness

Taking this into account, 2000 calories a day is not a feasible way of maintaining weight or toning unless those specific calories serve your health and fitness. Of course, this is an extreme example and processed sugar is okay as a treat just as long as it remains a treat.

A healthy diet consists of a balance of all things. It’s important to get protein in especially if you’re exercising, but it’s just, as if not more, important to eat an abundance of complex carbs like potatoes (not chips), iron for fatigue prevention in leafy greens like spinach and lettuce, natural fats like walnuts as well as seeds to help aid in digestion. Meat is also an option with chicken breast, steak and tenderloin (depending on your preference) being high in protein and fibre. Fruit is also a great source of natural sugars and dark chocolate is even better when eaten in MODERATION (also the dark chocolate should have an over 70% natural cocoa content). Below is an example of the basis of healthy meals, there are many different food pyramids prioritising different foods but this one gives a basis to work from and alter depending on what results you are trying to achieve (with more research of course).

Exercise

 For most points on this list, the goal of being healthy is down in part to regular exercise whether that be light or heavy. 30% exercise coupled with 70% being a good diet will help you achieve results. Whether you’re trying to get bigger or smaller, exercise combined with all points on this list will help to accelerate the time in which it takes to reach your goal. On top of this, exercise is a great way to stimulate blood flow and increases endorphins which trigger happy hormones in the brain. Whether it be jogging to improve stamina and burn fat, or eating a calorie surplus and lifting heavy weights to bulk up, all exercise has its benefits and finding the right exercise and balance for you is super important and can also be fun and fulfilling. Outdoor exercise is also beneficial because it allows more vitamin D to reach your skin, helping to achieve your glow, not to mention it can be a great way to socialise and make friends!

Get adequate sleep

 Sleep is about as important as any physical activity you can do to become healthier. Not only does the body replace cells and heal exponentially faster when you’re asleep, it also helps to clear skin giving you that healthy glow. Also, where skin is involved, it’s worth me mentioning a skin routine is also needed. Before that though, easy ways to help ensure less dirt and bacteria reach your pores are: don’t touch or put your phone to your face often, double cleanse your face daily whilst pat drying it with a clean towel and moisturising after, taking into consideration how oily/dry your skin is, and washing your pillow case regularly if you don’t already you dutty yute.

Getting back on track, lack of sleep can result in a drunk-like state according to studies, with a range of attributes being: slow brain functionality, affected emotions, muscle recovery rates slashed drastically (where physical activity is apparent) and low energy levels. A recommended 8 hours minimum is a good bench mark to aim for, especially if you are in your teenage years where higher levels of sleep are needed for growth and energy maintenance.

Healthy mind is a healthier body

This list alone won’t make you the healthiest person ever all by itself. Health isn’t something that can be measured in bullet points or by a list, it’s something that requires time and patience like anything else. Although this list is a small glimpse into getting a basis in which to grow and elaborate from, be careful. When I started on my health journey I prioritised my looks over my actual health.

Too often do we look at health from a marketed representation of how we should appear

Too often do we look at health from a marketed representation of how we should appear. When you start out on the road to fitness it’s important to know that standards and goals aren’t the most important thing. Your goals can and will constantly change! The difference between you being healthy or unhealthy is not defined by a number or a reflection in the mirror, it’s defined by how you approach health and if you’re doing it for YOU, not for society or any other reason.

Also, your body is unique and it will respond differently to different actions – so don’t be disheartened if one specific method doesn’t work for you. It just means you need to try another. It’s easy to let society’s ideals cloud your ability to see progress within yourself, I found when working out and losing weight that I still felt fat, I still felt inadequate with myself and I still wasn’t the me I wanted to be. This was because I believed working out and tracking my fitness and health would inherently make me happier and while it contributed in some areas, it definitely enhanced and created new issues. I now saw new areas of my body that needed work, each time I looked in the mirror I found new places that needed to be tucked, tightened or grown, this was not only more damaging than positive – but caused me to come to the realisation that I was happier before I went on my health journey.

I’m saying all this because I don’t want you to falter in the same way. Everything on this list is valuable, yes, but to reiterate ONLY when your mental game is strong af! Be happy before and happier after. Good luck to you in whatever health pursuit you are striving for and remember, a healthy mind will manifest into a healthy body if you’re willing to put in that work! Peace.