When most of us think about reaching our health goals, we tend to strive for a specific number: Blood pressure, weight, pant size or cholesterol, for example. But there’s more to good health than just cold hard facts. Here are three simple questions to ask yourself to determine whether you’re living your healthiest life—and some advice about how to make it happen.
Achieving optimal nutrition is all about balance. Rather than trying to be super specific about which foods you can and cannot enjoy, keep an eye on the general mix of foods on your plate at each meal. Aim for about half to be fruits and veggies, a quarter to be wholesome carbohydrates, and another quarter to be lean protein. Limit your intake of fats and sweets. Yes, it’s that easy.
The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. That breaks down to about a half an hour a day. If you’re falling short of that goal, commit to moving a little more each day. The benefits of being more active? A lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers, as well as stronger bones and an improved mood. You can do just about anything that gets your heart pumping, from a brisk walk to a dance class to a bike ride. Mix it up, add it up—it all counts. And speaking of counting, you don’t have to actually count so much as look at each day and try to fit in as much activity as you can. Take the stairs, suggest “walking meetings” at the office, or go out and play with your children.
Chronic or prolonged stress has been proven to take a toll on your health, including increasing your risk of heart disease and colds. Throughout your day, do a mental check-in to evaluate how much stress you’re feeling. When you sense it rising, take steps to short-circuit tension and calm down. Taking just 10 deep breaths or nibbling on an ounce of dark chocolate can help soothe frazzled nerves.