By Nina Padilla
Balance is an essential part of life. The act of balance can be a tricky one when it comes to the maintenance of our daily tasks. From the moment we wake up to the moment we close our eyes, we are seemingly inundated with the “to do lists” of the day that make up the framework of our lives. With relationships to nurture, children to raise, futures to plan, and work to do, how can we begin to comprehend the balance that is necessary for us to thrive?
The answer to this resides within us. Literally. Maintaining and regulating balance is something that our body does naturally. During the cold winter months, our body shivers and goosebumps appear on our skin in an effort to help keep us warm. During rigorous exercise, our sweat helps to keep us cool and our skin flushes red to help release excess heat; all in an effort to maintain the balance of our body temperature and to prevent us from overheating or freezing. So how can we model this balancing act? How do we maintain balance?
There is no one clear cut answer but going back to basics has always worked well for me so here are 4 ways to help you regain a strong foothold in 2021 and maintain a healthy mind-body balance for the year ahead.
1. Balanced Nutrition
Every body has its own set of unique needs when it comes to proper nutrition. Several factors such as your sex, height, weight, activity level, etc. play a role in determining what you put on your plate and providing the body with what it needs to thrive and flourish is essential to our health. As a nutritionist, I always recommend taking a custom approach to figuring out what your dietary needs are, but if consulting with a licensed or registered dietician isn’t for you, here are a few key elements of good health to remember and put into practice:
- Drink water: 60% of our body is made up of water so it makes sense that staying hydrated is important to our overall health. Proper hydration helps keep your joints and organs healthy and also keeps your skin looking its best. Drinking 13 cups of fluids per day for men and 9 cups per day for women is optimal. If you exercise, adding 1.5 to 2.5 more cups of fluids per day will help to stave off dehydration.
- Eat balanced meals: When you consume a meal, your body takes the nutrients from the food and sends them where they need to go to ensure that your organs, tissues, and bones continue to function and thrive. What you put on your plate will vary depending on your dietary needs, fitness goals, and lifestyle, but eating meals with high quality and healthy ingredients will help ensure that you are properly nourished from the inside out.
2. Staying Active
Staying active is essential for optimal health and is best when paired with daily healthy eating. Frequent exercise helps lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure, but also helps with improved cognition and better sleep. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of activity every week but stresses the importance of moving more and sitting less if your lifestyle is more sedentary. Physical activity doesn’t have to be a daunting task and finding activities that you enjoy can help increase your activity levels. Walking, dancing, running, gardening, swimming, and cycling are just a few activities that you can do to get you moving and keep you excited about your fitness goals.
Sleep is one of the most important pillars of health and often times, the most overlooked when discussing overall health and wellness. Getting a healthy dose of quality sleep can improve your memory and productivity at work, help improve your immune function, and has been shown to decrease the risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and stroke.
Recommendations for optimal hours of sleep vary based on age and lifestyle. In general, adults between the ages of 18 to 64 need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night with children and babies needing significantly more sleep- anywhere between 9 and 14 hours or more per night. Whatever your age, making sleep a priority can greatly improve the body and help stimulate and keep your mind sharp.