One of the most important things we can do for our children and our families is to stay healthy.
It takes energy to raise kids, to support a family, to be a good parent and a good spouse. When our bodies are not up to the task, we are letting down those we love as well as ourselves.
Human bodies are amazingly resilient and will withstand a lot of abuse, but some of our bad habits are wearing our bodies down and undermining our health in ways that we don't notice or recognize as clearly as we should.
The longer these habits go, the harder it is to reverse their effects.
We're not talking about alcohol or substance abuse, being a total couch potato or eating a diet composed entirely of junk food. People who engage in these obviously destructive habits already know it and don't need articles like this to point it out to them.
We're talking about less obvious things — habits we acquire that gradually drag us down and wear us out, hurting our ability to feel our best and be our best for our families.
1. Chronic dehydration
We don't drink enough — or we drink the wrong things. Sodas and diet drinks don't rehydrate us. Most of us drink less than half of the eight glasses of water necessary to keep us hydrated. Doctors tell us that most Americans are in some stage of chronic dehydration, undermining the health of our organs, from our skin to our digestive tracts.
2. Eating too quickly
It's not just fast food that gets us — it's eating food fast. The faster we shovel food in, the poorer we digest it, and the more we eat. Our bites are too big and too rapid. We tend to gulp, gallop and gorge instead of smelling, sipping and savoring our food.
3. Endless Snacking
The problem here is that there is always food around us — in the cupboard, on the counter, in the fridge, at the gas station, in the vending machines. It's usually high in salt/sugar and low in nutrients. This is the "seafood diet" — we see it, we eat it.
4. Huge Portions
We live in the land of "super-sizing." Our drinks are too big, our entrées are too big, our plates are too big. Our portions are just too big.
5. Too Much Sitting
Less than 22 percent of Americans have jobs that require significant physical activity, leaving about 80 percent who have jobs that are accomplished while sitting. They sit in their cars or on trains as they commute back and forth. They sit on the couch and watch TV, and then they sit at their computers and write emails. Sit, sit, sit — not exactly what our bodies were designed to do or what they are improved by doing.
We let ourselves get away with these five bad habits because their effects on us are very gradual. We don't just wake up one morning and find ourselves fat, run-down and slow. These chronic situations become worse over time and pull us down, slowly limiting our potential.
But the way to change all this is not slow or gradual. The best correction is an immediate one. The best way to break a habit is to drop it — and you can stop doing these five things right now!
As you recognize them and understand their insidious and damaging nature, you can find the motivation to stop all five, reversing their destruction by simply drinking more water, eating slower, limiting or improving the quality of your snacks, reducing your portions and moving a little more each day.