Getting healthier, starting today, is easier than ever. Armed with all the important information, and a kitchen stocked with fresh produce, you will be on the road to a healthier you in no time!
Follow these 6 actionable steps to start leading a healthier lifestyle.
1. KNOW WHERE YOU STAND… HEALTH-WISE
This may not be the most exciting place to start, but it’s definitely the most important.
Understanding where you are in your life, and health, is half the battle. You know you want to change, but understanding “what” you need to change will make the “how” that much easier.
Visit your medical professional for a check-up. They will be able to help you frame your health goals, so you make faster, more sustainable, progress.
From reducing your body fat percentage, to improving your heart health, they will give you the facts that you need to start plotting your road to success.
2. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET: GETTING HEALTHY IS A JOURNEY, NOTTHE GOAL
Your health, and the health of those you love, are the most important things in life.
But what does being healthy mean?
Good health is subjective, as is what it means to get healthier. So it makes sense to first understand what your health goal is.
Are you looking to lose 5kg by the end of the year? Or perhaps you want to reduce your body fat? Maybe you want to increase your lean body mass by 2kg? The goals you set for yourself dictate the actions you need to take, and the timeline you set to achieve them.
Along the road to achieving your bigger health goal, you can…
3. SET SMALL GOALS ALONG THE WAY
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we cannot achieve big health goals in a small amount of time. So, what should we do? We can start by setting small, achievable goals.
These smaller goals will help you to stay motivated, acting as little glorious milestones each time you meet them.
If you have a large health goal, break it into smaller steps.
For example, lets beak down a 5kg weight loss goal. If we target a 0.5kg weight loss per week, that gives us a 10-week timeline to achieve our goal.
The smaller goal can be achieved by taking small, sustainable steps, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day or drinking 8 glasses of water a day. These may not seem like much, but when pieced together day after day, week after week, and month after month, these small steps could amount to a bigger change – allowing you to achieve your greater fitness goal!
Find out how you can set and track your health goals with AIA Vitality.
4. SLEEP MORE
We all need our beauty sleep. But studies show that people in Malaysia don’t get the regular 8 hours a night we should, or the 7.5 hours we wish had. In fact, the recent AIA Healthy Living Index demonstrated that on average Malaysians regularly get as little as 6.3 hours of sleep.
Sleep affects our mood, health, and weight. A good night’s sleep allows us to perform at our best, whether we’re in the office, or at the gym.
The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) associates chronic sleep deprivation to increased smartphone use. Using technology late into night interrupts our bodies’ natural processes, making it harder to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
- Turn screens off 1-2 hours before bed time
- Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night
5. EAT WELL
Part of being healthy is eating healthy.
But it’s not always to know what you should be eating. How much you should be eating. And what exactly is a superfood anyway?
The single most important healthy eating tip is the one you have heard many times before. “You need to eat a healthy, balanced diet.”
A balanced diet is one where each meal comprises of all the macronutrients your body needs.
Each macronutrient plays an important role in helping you function at peak condition:
- Carbohydrates: provide the energy required to function
- Proteins: help the body recover
- Fat: helps maintain energy levels, and the absorption of proteins
Great carbohydrate sources
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
- Buckwheat noodles
Great sources of proteins
- White meats
- Grilled fish
- Nuts and seeds
Great sources of good fats
- Olive oil
- Dark chocolate
What does a balanced diet look like?
With the right information achieving a balanced healthy diet is not too difficult to achieve. Here are some simple steps you can follow:
- Increase your portion of fruits and vegetables
The government is encouraging all citizens to consume at least 3 servings of vegetables a day. Whilst a World Health Organization (WHO) backed study found health benefits to consuming up to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables daily. They help ensure your body gets adequate amounts of micronutrients.
- Reduce intake of Processed Grains
Malaysians are encouraged to reduce cereal intake to 6 servings per day. With each serving amounting to 2 scoops of rice, 1 cup of noodles, or 2 slices of bread.
- Limit saturated fat
Limit your intake of saturated fat to 60g per day. Fat is high in calories, so it can rapidly increase your daily calorie intake. This means high fat foods should be limited where possible:
Curry noodles – 37g fat (per 400g)
Sweet and sour fish – 31g of fat (per 270g)
Fried chicken – 25g of fat (per 120g)
- Limit salt / sodium intake
Salt is pretty bad for our health. With The Ministry of Health implementing a sodium reduction plan to target the nearly 74% of Malaysians currently consuming too much salt. The Malaysian Government recommends consuming less than 5g of salt per day. To put that into perspective, one can of chicken curry contains 2036 mg of salt, close to 50% of your daily limit.
- Reduce sugar intake
Sugar, refined sugars, and fake sugars all lead to a skyrocketing calorie count, bulging waistline and mid-afternoon energy crashes. Recent advice from the WHO recommends limiting sugar intake to less than 5%, below 25 grams, per day.
- Make space for things you love
It’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with foods.
So don’t restrict yourself to ‘healthy’ foods only. Understand that being healthy is building the foundation of your diet around foods that meet your macronutrient and calorie needs.
But you should also allow some wiggle room for your guilty food pleasures such as chocolates or cheese or nasi lemak.
If you find your particular food crush is hurting your fitness goals, don’t demonise it. Instead, find ways to cut the portion size or find a healthier version.
6. DRINK MORE WATER
Water is the essential element that all life depends upon. Well, it turns out its pretty important for your health too.
Drinking more water improves your bodily functions and mood, clears your skin and boosts your energy levels.
Aim for around 8 glasses of water per day. It may sound like a lot, but you will feel the benefits both in the short and long terms.