Here is a list of basic rules I've come up with to achieve menos in my life. Healthy living is a much more complex topic, of course, but this list makes a good starting point.
1) Avoid smoking and/or abusing drugs or alcohol. This one should be obvious, but a lot of people fail to achieve this important step to improving their health.
2) Get between 7 & 9 hours of sleep per night. I know plenty of people who claim to get by on six hours of sleep a night or less. You might "get by" with less, but the research is overwhelming - adequate sleep is very important to good health and energy. Lack of adequate sleep not only makes you tired, but according to research, impairs your concentration, memory, fine motor skills, and negatively impacts your mood. Not only that, but a long-term lack of adequate sleep compromises your immune system and plays a role in developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type II diabetes, and even several forms of cancer. Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis really is a must for your health.
3) Be physically active everyday. Many experts recommend at least one hour of moderate exercise a day, at least five days a week. What is moderate exercise? It should be vigorous enough to cause you to break out in a slight sweat. Walking, hiking, swimming, and bike riding are excellent, ways to exercise, as are gardening and yard work (use a push mower - your riding mower doesn't count as exercise). Try to mix in some Resistance training, too. Resistance training typically means weight lifting, but also includes exercises utilizing rubber exercise bands or even your own body (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, leg squats) to cause muscles to contract and expand. Don't want to join a gym? Me neither. Get yourself a set of exercise bands and/or dumbbells and use them at home!
NOTE: Use common sense - if you are elderly, pregnant, badly out-of-shape, or have a serious health condition, please get your doctor's advise before starting an exercise program.
4) Eat Healthy. An obvious step, but one that is difficult because so many people have radically different ideas of what constitutes healthy foods. Worse, many of those varying ideas are based not on facts, but on ideology and/or self-interest (think $). Since being diagnosed with diabetes (as well as high blood pressure, low testosterone, and mild anemia) almost five years ago, I've done a lot of research into what actually constitutes a healthy diet. Here is how I now eat:
I've eliminated all grains (including rice and corn), white potatoes, and refined sugar from my diet. Naturally, this means I no longer eat sweets and most junk foods.
Healthy fats make up the largest percentage of my diet. Examples of healthy fats include eggs, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring, trout, mackerel, shrimp, among others), butter, avocados, most nuts, olive oil, and coconut oil.
Eggs have become the staple of my diet. I eat two eggs for breakfast each morning and usually have a hard boiled egg for an evening snack. In addition, I occasionally eat eggs at other meals. I typically eat two dozen eggs a week, and have for the last four years. Yet my cholesterol numbers and blood pressure are both well within the normal range without any medication. The bad reputation eggs have is based on extremely outdated science from the 60s and 70's, yet is so ingrained into the cultural psyche that even most doctors repeat that nonsense today.
I keep my carbohydrate intake relatively low. The carbs I do eat are the high-quality carbs such as the cruciferous vegetables, which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and various greens (spinach, turnip, mustard, kale, collard, etc). These are extremely nutritious and have only a mild impact on my blood sugar.
Lettuces, summer (yellow) squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic, peppers, and radishes are also nutritious and have only a mild effect on my blood sugar. Tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and most beans are also okay, but have a somewhat greater impact on my blood sugar, so I am especially careful about serving size with them.
Because of their high sugar content, I have to be very careful with fruit. When I do eat fruit, I have a citrus fruit, a small apple or pear, or a small (1/3 cup) serving of berries. I do not drink fruit juice (too much sugar).
I've tested these dietary changes on myself, closely monitoring my blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, testosterone levels, iron levels, and weight as I made these changes. All my numbers are now within normal ranges without medication. That's right: after being diagnosed with diabetes with a A1C of 10.1 (very high), I now maintain an A1C range of 5.5-5.7 without taking insulin, metformin, or any other drug, so I must be doing something right.
5) Consume much less refined sugar. I already mentioned reducing sugar, but it bears repeating. Our modern American diet suffers from an extreme excess of sugar. A major contributor to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer is the high rate of sugar consumption in all its forms, especially high fructose corn syrup. Cut back drastically on the amount of sugar you consume, and when you do use sweeteners, prefer natural sources such as fruit & honey.
6) Make regular visits to a doctor, dentist, and eye-doctor. Had I followed this advice, my diabetes would have been caught much sooner, before my eye problems developed, and would have saved me from the 70+ eye injections and five laser surgeries it took to save my eyesight. Find a doctor you like and are comfortable with, hopefully one who takes a holistic approach to your health care, and believes as strongly in preventing disease as he or she does in curing disease. What constitutes "regular check-ups" depends on your age & health conditions and should be mutually decided on by you and your doctor.
7) Remember that menos is about more than health and fitness. It is also about spiritual and emotional fitness. To that end, here are some tips to address those areas:
- Be a life long learner. Always seek to expand your knowledge base. Read books. Take classes. Watch documentaries. Visit museums and historical sites. Stay up on current affairs. Work crossword puzzles and logic puzzles.
- Deal with any addictions or mental health issues as soon as possible. See my article Prepper's Guide to Mental Health and Emotional Preparedness.
- Develop your relationships with others - your spouse, kids, family, friends, neighbors...
- Get right with God. Don't roll your eyes. This is important. Develop your relationship with God. Read the Bible and pray daily. Go to Church. Follow God's wisdom, not worldly ways.
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