If you’ve yet to get going on that healthier lifestyle you swore you’d start for you and your family this year, worry not: you can start right now and still see improvements before the calendar flips to the next month.
The incredibly good news is that improving your physical and mental health does NOT require completely changing your lifestyle. In fact, you and your loved ones can bring about improved health and increased happiness simply by embracing three simple formulas.
Food + screens = health trouble
Whatever you do, do not let anyone in your household snack while watching TV or using the computer. Here’s why: eating while in front of the TV or computer almost always results in mindless overeating.
Then, think about how dangerous it is to combine that overeating with a lack of activity. It’s a recipe (pun intended) for disaster.
Instead, make sure everyone stays active by limiting screen time to specific times of the day. And when everyone is in front of a screen? Keep snacks a thousand miles away from you and anyone you care about!
More time outside + less time inside = improved health and more fun
Listen. I already strongly believe that the outdoors should be a more frequent destination for families. But when you add to the mix our modern eating habits, well, it’s easy to see why the great outdoors ought to be everyone’s favorite hot spot.
Whether it’s playing, camping, biking, or hiking, we all stand to gain improved health and tons more fun when we spend time outside. There’s so much open space for us and our kids to explore, so let’s get out there and do it.
Of course, some activities are meant for indoors. And sometimes exceptionally lousy weather leaves us with no choice. But it’s important to remember that nothing, and I really do mean nothing, beats soaking up the sun, rain, snow, or wind while spending time with your favorite people.
0 + 5 + 10 + 30 + 150 = the best health you’ve ever had
I must admit that I didn’t come up with this fabulous formula. I’m borrowing it from Colin Kopes-Kerr, MD from the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa, California. But it’s so important that I’m okay with admitting a bit of thievery.
In this inspiring editorial entitled Preventive Health: Time for Change, Kopes-Kerr suggests this formula to “help patients achieve healthy lifestyle goals” that’ll last a lifetime:
- 0 = no cigarettes or tobacco products
- 5 = five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 10 = ten minutes of silence, relaxation, prayer, or meditation per day
- 30 = keep your BMI (body mass index) below 30
- 150 = number of minutes of exercise per week (e.g., brisk walking or equivalent)
There’s so much wisdom in this formula that I genuinely regret not knowing about it sooner. The really awesome part of Dr. Kopes-Kerr’s equation is that each of the items in it are easy to achieve – and even easier to maintain once you’ve started them.
Take, for example, the 150 minutes of exercise each week. That comes out to only a little more than 20 minutes each day. That is a mere percentage of the time we typically spend texting random thoughts to each other, Googling things we don’t necessarily care about, and watching YouTube clips that mean absolutely nothing to us.
In other words, we all have 20 minutes a day to spend walking, jogging, playing, exercising, or lifting weights. Let’s use that time in a way that will have long-lasting benefits for our bodies and minds.
One of the biggest misconceptions parents have is that it takes a massive overhaul of their family’s schedule and priorities to bring about the healthy living they want for their loved ones.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you otherwise. It simply is not true that you need to drastically change your lifestyle in order to develop the type of habits you’ve aspired to all these years.
The three formulas described above will leave you and your family healthier and happier than ever. The best part? You can start right here, right now.