The ABC of a Heath Plan
By Jose A. Hernandez
A) Proper Nutrition
C) Life Style
Most of us realize that
our health is our most valuable asset. Yet, we often fail to protect and
improve our health. The purpose of this article is to introduce you to a
simple, yet complete approach to a healthy life style. Although it is very
hard to make dramatic changes in life style, anyone can make small, gradual,
yet significant changes, which over time will have a positive cumulative
effect. . If you follow any of the following tips, you are likely to benefit
in some manner. To achieve your health potential, you'll have to gradually
integrate most if not all of the advice given here. So let's get to the
point. The following tips are based on our personal observations and
experience. If I could summarize all of it in one sentence, it would be: Eat
right & exercise. Do seek the advice of a health professional
before starting an exercise program or making sudden changes in your eating
(A) PROPER NUTRITION
You are what you eat 90% of the time but please don't go on a diet. Most
diets will do more harm than good. Diets that restrict calories, i.e.
starvation diets, result in your developing a slower metabolic rate. In other
words your body "learns" to work with less food. This is because
while you're "starving" your body is burning muscle tissue for
energy. So you lose weight fast but when you quit your "starvation"
diet, you will not only gain it all back, you'll get fatter. To make things
worse, many starvation diets are poor in essential nutrients (i.e. vitamins
& minerals, etc).
- Eat frequent small meals. Try to eat every 3-4 hours or 4
to 5 small meals per day. Don't skip breakfast. This tip will help you
boost your metabolism so that you'll burn more fat even when you sleep
and will result in your having more energy
throughout the day.
- Avoid simple sugars. Avoid candy, cakes, and sweets. Allow
yourself a small "treat" once every 7 days as a reward for
- Avoid saturated fats but welcome good fats like
fish oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, perilla oil
- Eat lean proteins. (Fish, chicken, eggs, turkey breast).
You need protein to build and maintain lean muscular tissues.
- Eat fibrous carbohydrates (complex carbs.). Eat lots of veggies
(broccoli, spinach, dark green leafy veggies, etc).
They are loaded with anti-oxidant and anti-cancer agents.
- Eat some starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice,
whole wheat bread, etc). If you are trying to
lose fat, limit but do not eliminate starchy carbohydrates.
- Take a multivitamin . We use the Life Extension Mix, because it is the most complete vitamin, mineral &
plant extract formula on the market. Vitamins are thought to slow down the aging process and prevent a number of diseases.
- Drink plenty of liquids, at least 8-10
glasses of water per day.
- (B) EXERCISE
Use your body or lose it. It is that simple! The advice given here won't
turn you into an Olympic athlete but it will ensure an adequate level of
fitness. Please do seek the advice of a medical professional before
starting any exercise program. Chances are, your doctor will
"beg" you to exercise, but consult your physician anyway. An
exercise program is not complete unless it includes the following:
- Aerobic exercise - Necessary to stimulate your heart
and to help improve your circulatory system. Find an aerobic activity
that you enjoy doing and just do it at least three times per week. An
aerobic activity is just about anything that gets your heart going. The
activity needs to last from 15 minutes to 1 hour and be challenging
enough to be effective. Challenging enough means it should elevate your
heart rate so that you are working at 65% to 80% of your maximum. To
approximate your maximum heart rate, just subtract your age from 220* So if you are 45 years old, your maximum heart rate
would be around 175 (220 minus 45 = 175). If your maximum heart rate
were 175, then to work at 65% of your maximum, you would need to work
hard enough to elevate your heart rate to about 114 (175 x .65).
Obviously, I recommend recumbent cycling because you get all of the
aerobic benefits without any of the pain associated with riding a
regular bike or jogging.
Note: The above
calculation may NOT yield an accurate heart rate range - It is ONLY an ESTIMATE !!! Experienced / Fit cyclists often find that
this calculation yields a heart rate that is lower than their actual/measured
maximum heart rate. However, this calculation is good enough and can be used
as a guide by most, but not all people. Your maximum heart rate may well be
below or above the product of this calculation, depending on your current
level of fitness. Thus, you MUST LISTEN to your body (play it safe - err on
the side of safety - and avoid the temptation to stick to any formula if it
doesn't feel right or attempting to measure your maximum heart rate unless
you have the blessing of your physician.
- Lift weights- No, I don't want to turn you into a
body builder, unless you choose to do so. But weight training is the
best way to make sure you don't lose muscle mass as you age. Did you
know that people, who do not challenge their muscles with weights, lose
about 5% of muscle mass per year after age 40? As you lose muscle, you
lose your ability to move, do work and you will gain fat. One of the
best way to ensure that you are fully
ambulatory in your old age is to lift weights. Pick up a beginner's
program and lift weights at least twice per week for about 20 to 30
minutes. Start slowly and progress gradually. You will notice that you
will become stronger in about 6 to 8 weeks.
- Stretch everyday
for a few minutes.
Stretch after a workout to make sure your muscles are warm. Don't
stretch a cold muscle. Regular stretching exercises will help you avoid
injury and keep you flexible.
(C) LIFE STYLE
Most of us are creatures of habit. Unfortunately, we all tend to accumulate
bad habits. Try the following tips:
- Get a yearly physical.
- Get a recumbent
bike! - A
great investment and worth every penny.
- Sleep at least 7-8 hours per day. Take
a nap if you can every once in a while.
- Take a vacation once a year .
- Value the time spent with your family.
Your family needs quality and quantity time.
- Exclude worries from your mental
- Read books about health & fitness
and learn how to slow down the aging process.
- Find an exercise buddy.
- Try to learn new skills (learn to play
an instrument or learn to write with your weak hand, it is great for
- Wear a helmet when cycling. and wear seat belts when driving.
- Do not smoke - Do not use drugs.
- Reach out and touch someone
. Stay in touch with your friends.
- Think positive. Pay attention to your
inner voice. Think "I can do it!"