Today, we celebrate womanhood on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022. And while every day should be about enabling women to live their best lives, this day is a reminder to pause and focus on the well-being of women around the globe. To quote lawyer, author, and former First Lady Michelle Obama, “Communities, countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women”.
Most of us have begun 2022 with a list of resolutions, but just two months in, we might have already let go of about half of them. There’s so much pressure to achieve lofty goals like exercise every day, undergo bi-yearly screenings, achieve appropriate BMI etc. While these are undoubtedly good resolutions to strive for, however, far-off, or difficult plans can make the process more difficult, especially without motivation.
It’s about time we re-frame our idea of ‘fitness’ from focusing on intense, exhausting, hour-long workouts to simply moving as much as possible. Proper health doesn’t have to mean extreme calorie burn or working out till exhaustion, but rather living a less sedentary lifestyle. Staying active is the key, the mode of activity could be something of your choice, like brisk walking, cycling, etc. or something new and fun like Zumba. Choose to walk to the farther train stop to get in some extra steps or climb two flights of stairs at work or at home or try bike riding; make proactive efforts to stay active every day.
Being in the same environment for a long time can perpetuate feelings of social isolation and leave you feeling anxious. Being in nature has proven to help improve mental functioning, memory, and mood, so make it a point to go outdoors for 15 minutes every day. You could walk to your nearest park, garden, or the nearest beach.
Self-care is an essential aspect of healthy living. In the 24 hours that you get in a day, you must set aside time just for yourself. During this time, you can do things that you love, like reading a book or painting. While it is also okay to watch some content on the phone and TV, we recommend you do something offline so that you can reduce screen time. This would be the perfect time to revive a long-lost hobby or try a new activity!
By consciously listening to your body, you can better discover what would make your body and mind healthier. You may be surprised with how much small progressive changes can help you. Take simple steps like spending an hour off gadgets before bed, waking up to watch the sunrise and meditate, walk to the nearest park and enjoy a brisk workout with your friends. As you listen to your body, you’d also be able to be on the lookout for unusual signs, which could be early indicators of major underlying illnesses – enabling early intervention.
Checking in with your General Physician and Gynecologist even while you are healthy is a crucial practice to maintain overall wellness. Periodic screenings for Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Breast Cancer and Pelvic Cancer can offer peace of mind or an opportunity to prevent diseases early before they become fatal. Further, safeguarding one’s health is the key to staying healthy for the long run. From simple blood tests and vaccines to periodic Mammograms and Colonoscopies, your doctor can help you stay healthy and fit, both physically & mentally. Although it may seem like a hassle now, one hour in a doctor’s office can add years of health to your life.
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One of the best things you can do for your health is to cut back on foods with added sugar. While you might think you’re not eating much sugar, you’re eating a lot more than you realize. Added sugar lurks in nearly 70 percent packaged foods and is found in bread, ready-to-eat health foods, snacks, yogurts, most breakfast foods, and sauces. Sugary foods and beverages are linked to obesity, heart disease, cavities, etc. Reducing consumption of packaged food and sugar intake can play a pivotal role in enhancing your overall health. It will also help you maintain your weight better.
An average person should get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night; so, breaking away from electronics-dependent habits such as watching TV, scrolling through social media feeds, or being on your phone right until you fall asleep is crucial. A good sleep cycle is essential to a person’s overall well-being and neglecting sleep can have dire and often fatal health consequences over a period of time. In adequate sleep also impacts other bodily functions, reduces our concentration capability, and could also lead to mental health issues in the long run.
Optimal Vitamin D intake is necessary for your bone health and immune system vitality. It can help prevent chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers on the one hand, and can even stimulate hair growth. Hence, get appropriate sun exposure for at least 15-20 minutes daily and add a vitamin D supplement (no more than 4,000 IU a day) to your daily vitamin stash. You can also speak to a certified nutritionist to understand the kind of vitamin D-enriched diet that could help you.
Instead of following trending fad diets that deliver fast results while compromising your metabolism and mental health, it is better to follow a sustainable diet. Choose a nutrition plan that meets your goals and blends well with your lifestyle. Remember that a diet that can become your lifestyle and not feel like a ‘diet’ is a luxury. Therefore, it is essential to find a balance between enjoying your social life and your occasional treats without sabotaging your diet progress and feeling guilty. Making health your long-term goal, encouraging self-awareness, and eating intuitively is your recipe for a ‘sustainable transformation’.
Small steps taken towards correcting lifestyle and prioritizing oneself will help make progressive changes, benefits of which last a lifetime.