O ur lives are full of stress and as we rush from home to work to family responsibilities, we all know that we should have a better quality of life.

Sometimes feels like following a healthy diet, getting enough exercise and finding the time just to kick back and chill out is impossible. But learning to live a healthier lifestyle is easy when you change one small thing at a time.

Sure, healthy living is a long-term commitment. But there are steps you can take right now that will make today healthier than yesterday and pave the way for healthy living tomorrow and the day after.

Healthy Living Step No. 1: Take stock.
You need to be real. Sort out what you can. Make appointments with your doctor and dentist or visit the nearest clinic. Check your weight. You don’t need to get to a perfect weight. If you are overweight you can gain great health benefits by losing 5-10% of your weight.

Healthy Living Step No. 2: Keep moving: don’t be lazy
Although an exercise session or a visit to the gym is great to work into your daily routine, you can burn kilojoules in other small ways, such as:

  • Walking to someone else’s desk rather than sending an e-mail
  • Parking furthest from the building and walking in, or
  • Taking the stairs more often
  • Doing house cleaning or gardening
  • Taking the dog for a walk or going for a bike ride with the kids

Every little bit counts and it all adds up to burning more kilojoules. So think of all the ways you can get yourself to move more without disrupting your daily schedule.

Healthy Living Step No. 3 Check your mood and energy.
Healthy living includes emotional wellness and adequate rest.  One of the triggers to low energy levels and unhappy moods is stress.

For healthy living, manage stress by ensuring you:

  • Balance work, home, and play.
  • Get support from family and friends.
  • Stay positive.
  • Take time to relax.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Make sure kids get more, based on their age.
  • Get help or counselling if needed.

Healthy Living Step No. 4 Keep a food diary.
Write down everything you eat (and drink) for a day — and  don’t “forget” the items you’re embarrassed about. This will give you a good idea of where you stand and how you eat and drink.

When it comes to healthy eating, there are so many theories, diet books and online information about what to eat. When you have been down that road a few times you realise that many of these so called health eating and diet theories are conflicting.

But we do know, what the experts all agree on is that our diets are too high in sugar, our portions are too big and we should eat a variety of whole natural foods.

This means, to stay healthy you need to

  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
  • Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Eat a balanced diet to help keep a healthy weight.

Healthy Living Step No. 5 Don’t smoke and don’t drink too much.
Stopping smoking is often the single most effective thing that you can do to reduce your risk of future illness. The risk to health decreases rapidly as soon as you stop smoking (but takes a few years before the increased risk reduces completely).

Men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week, no more than four units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week. Women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, no more than three units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week.

One unit is in about 500ml of normal strength beer, or two thirds of a small glass of wine, or one small pub measure of spirits.

Pregnant women should not drink at all.

There is no magic wand that can create healthy living, it is just matter of making time to work some changes into your life – small changes that can make a very big difference.

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