There are a number of things you can do to be in good health, with each adding upon the others.
But there are four easy and big actions we can take to boost our health and give us a great foundation that are available to anybody. You don’t need to be a doctor or a nutritionist or even a particularly wealthy person to employ these techniques to give yourself a good chance to be in good health.
So let’s get right into it. The four essentials to give yourself a great chance to be in good health.
(Note: these four essentials are also part of my Top 8 Ridiculously Simple Tips to Live a Healthier Life. Click here if you would like to see the expanded list.)
#1 Essential to be in Good Health: Water
What could be easier, simpler, and cheaper than drinking more water?
Drinking an appropriate amount of water really is the easiest thing we can do for our health, and the most accessible, but if most of us are being honest, we are not doing a great job of it.
Especially if you’re like me.
But that’s okay. There is time to change that.
There are a number of ways you can help remind yourself to drink enough water during the course of each day. Like filling a large bottle at the beginning of the day and ensuring you finish it, setting alerts on your phone to remind you periodically, or whatever else works for you.
Just check out these six amazing reasons why you need to drink more water today and see what you can do to get healthier!
#2 Essential to be in Good Health: Cutting Out Sugar
Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the planet, so it might seem strange to refer to it as a “simple” fix when addiction is anything but.
But, shockingly, it is. It just takes a little conscientious effort.
Which will be more than worth it, considering the damaging effects of sugar on your body.
In a review published in the journal Frontiers in Bioscience in 2018, researchers from the NIH noted that excessive sugar consumption “may trigger neuroadaptations in the reward system that decouple eating behavior from caloric needs and leads to compulsive overeating. Excessive sugar intake is in turn associated with adverse health conditions, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory diseases.”
Research published in August 2015 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that among women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study from 1994 to 1998, those who consumed the most added sugars had 23% higher odds of incident depression than those who consumed the least.
These are just a couple examples that are not talked about enough, but the scientific evidence against sugar is voluminous, as is the anecdotal evidence we can all see and feel.
Given how obvious it’s negative impact is on our health is, removing sugar from our diets might be the healthiest lifestyle choice and best medicine anyone can ever take.
So what are the simple ways to cut sugar out of our diets?
Although sugar seems to be crammed into every nook and cranny of processed food, hiding where you do not expect it, a little label-reading at the grocery store can take care of that in no time.
Avoiding processed foods as much as possible, which we can consider an “honorable mention” to this top 8 list, would be the easiest and healthiest way to avoid that hidden sugar. But I know that is not always possible and, let’s face it, some processed foods are pretty darn good and you don’t need be punitive with yourself.
The stricter you are with yourself and the more you force yourself to rely on willpower, the hardest this will be.
So, now that you’ve created a system of carefully choosing your foods without added sugars and aren’t being too hard on yourself, what do you do about those cravings?
Obviously sugar didn’t stop being addictive just because you’ve been reading labels. There’s a reason why the food manufacturers cram it into so many things.
Fortunately, we have a lot of healthy options for those who have developed a sweet tooth. So many, in fact, that they could even have earned a spot on this list.
#3 Essential to be in Good Health: Phase in Exercise
Exercise is a massive industry where everybody has an angle.
“You must do this type of workout, don’t waste your time with that kind of workout” is the kind of talk you hear ad nauseum, across every medium, everywhere you look.
That’s not to say there aren’t encouraging, non-judgemental people out there, but with so many who adhere to specific types of workouts with an almost religious-like fervor, using social media to blare their devotion through a megaphone to the rest of the congregation, it is really easy to feel bombarded and confused. Even judged if your tastes are not on board with theirs.
It’s no wonder exercise plans can be intimidating and so many people have a hard time getting started.
When it can feel like the entire industry is built on judgement, it should come as no surprise that people can feel intimidated or self-conscious getting started. Especially if getting started entails walking into a gym for the first time, when a gym really just feels to so many of us like a house of judgement that charges a subscription plan.
Fortunately we’re not about that here. The truth and improving ourselves is much more important than ego and selling niche fitness products while demeaning someone else’s niche fitness products.
So when it comes to exercise and well being, there is one fundamental truth we can all adhere to, regardless of our motivations or tastes:
I don’t know about you, but when I see someone working out, no matter what they are doing (as long as it’s safe of course) or what they look like, I’m happy for them and inspired by them.
Because they are putting in the work. And putting in the work is all that matters and automatically gets my respect. I don’t care about someone’s stats, their max bench press, how fast they are, what their body fat percentage is.
Sure, those things can be impressive and inspiring and respect-inducing as well. But if you are doing the work, no matter what you’ve got my respect for that.
The good news for all of us is, if you stay consistent with that work while being safe, you will reap reward after reward after reward for your efforts.
Inputs = output. (You can read more about that formula here.)
So, if you are not exercising today, don’t worry about it! It is never too late to start.
My favorite way to start is by phasing in some safe exercise or physical activity that you enjoy. It doesn’t really matter what it is at this point, just so long as you enjoy it so you can put your motivation on autopilot and be consistent.
As for me, I personally love doing intermittent work. I can do it from the comfort of my own home, it does not add any time to my schedule, and it fits in perfectly with my personality. If you’re interested, you can learn more about it here.
But really, though. Just as long as you’re doing something that you enjoy and it’s safe, it doesn’t really matter if it’s anybody else’s cup of tea. Just get started and you’ll grow. And who knows how far you can go!
#4 Essential to be in Good Health: Eat Whole Foods
Eating whole foods seems like an obvious tip that we all know on some level, but for some reason it still eludes many of us.
Whether that is due to the addictive nature of processed foods, how commonly found they are, ease of preparation, or cost concerns, the processed food industry has found its way into just about every pantry around the Western world.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
Maybe all it takes is a little rewiring of our minds and expectations.
Listen, many processed foods will never stop being delicious, so you can forget about rewiring your mind to think they’re not.
I write about health for a living and still look twice at those little packaged apple pie snacks I used to get at the convenience store when I was a kid.
What we can do, instead, is rewire our minds to enjoy the simplicity of the simplest whole food recipes. Recipes that are easy to prepare so time is less of a concern, and use inexpensive ingredients so cost is less of a concern.
Let me give you an example of one of my favorite recipes. A recipe that is so ridiculously simple, so ridiculously inexpensive, and packed with great nutrition that it is easy to get behind.
Often times I will make this simple recipe for lunch. I make two batches at once, but you can easily make more than that if you like.
Here are the simple, cost-effective ingredients that make two lunches:
- 1 cup white rice (VERY inexpensive)
- 1 container chicken stock, or four cups (couple dollars from Target)
- 6-8 eggs (super inexpensive)
- 2 cans tuna fish (optional)
This ingredient list comes out to about 7 dollars for two meals. You can add a little salt and pepper to taste and it is delicious. Even someone with basic cooking skills like me can make a simple, delicious, cost-effective meal at home.
I’m sure you can do even better.
This meal is satiating, is loaded with healthy proteins and fats, and checking in at about $3.50 per meal doesn’t break the bank either.
What is most important might be what is not in this meal.
And that is any ingredient that you cannot pronounce and that is also not food.
This meal is made from all food, direct from nature, fit for human consumption.
This is just one example, however, coming from someone who eats for fuel and to satisfy a limited range of cooking skills.
You can, and probably will, take things up a notch or several notches from this.
The fact is, eating whole foods does not have to be expensive, nor does it have to be time-consuming.
Think about these whole foods:
- Rice – not expensive
- Vegetables, fresh or frozen – not expensive
- Ground meat – not expensive (but getting higher, thank you inflation)
- Fruit for snacks – not expensive
- Seasonings – almost immeasurably not expensive
Now think about how many different variations of meals you can make with this simple base: rice, vegetables, ground meat, seasonings. This simple base costs so very little, will cover all your nutrient needs and, most importantly, it will not bombard your body with non-food, lab-produced chemicals that your body will have to spend time, energy, and resources fending off.
Instead, your body will be free to assimilate the nutrients you feed it, using them to bolster your good foundation of health and allow you to take your health to the next level.
So perhaps it is not time to convince ourselves that processed food is yucky or that it is not the best option for a limited budget with limited time. Perhaps we are better off rewiring our minds to get excited about simple meals that also are great options for limited budgets and limited time, but that fuel us to go after our pursuits instead.
Once we do that, even the simplest and “least exciting” meal options become something we look forward to.
Even More Simple Tips to be in Good Health
Yes, it is possible to nip around the edges and supercharge your health using very targeted, sometimes expensive, vitamin and supplement regimens. But the list of simple things you can do to give yourself an amazing foundation for health is a long one.
If you would like to take things a step further, click here to check out my expanded Top 8 Ridiculously Simple Tips to Live a Healthier Life. You will see these four essentials plus an additional four tips that anybody can do today.
Thanks for being here and here’s to your pursuit of great!
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