Don’t Leave Your 2021 Goals to Your Future Self
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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
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Have you ever gone on a diet in the hopes of improving your overall well-being? Or wondered how you can ensure you live a long and healthy life? “Eat Move Sleep” has all the answers you need.
Prompted by his own chronic condition, Tom Rath went on a lifelong quest to learn how to live a long and healthy life. In his book, he shares practical tips backed by sound research, so get ready to discover how you can live a longer and healthier life!
Many of us have tried to better our lifestyles by tackling our sleep patterns, or by trying out various diets. Some have turned to sports or different exercise regimes to improve their lifestyles. Rath says, however, if you only tackle one of these areas, you are not going to make a difference in the long run.
If you truly want to improve your lifestyle, you must do all three: eat healthier, exercise regularly and sleep more. The three areas are interdependent. For example, if you get a more restful sleep, you will want a healthier breakfast. Eating well in the morning will give you more energy to exercise, which again will lead to more restful sleep.
The benefits of improving our lifestyles cannot be overstated. Two out of three people will die of heart disease or cancer, both of which can potentially be prevented by living a healthier lifestyle. Moreover, researchers have found that 90% of people could live to the age of age 90 by making a few changes to their lifestyles.
Rath was moved to improve his own lifestyle after being diagnosed with a rare condition called Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) at the age of 16. VHL is a condition where the body lacks a gene that normally suppresses the growth of cancers and tumors in the body. Even though he lost the sight in one of his eyes as a result of a tumor, he has managed to live a long and healthy life, thanks to making the right lifestyle choices. After all, it is the small choices we make every single day which will eventually determine how long we live.
Many of us believe that going on a diet will have long-term impacts on our health. Sadly, this is not true. The problem with diets is that they are generally temporary. If you want to have a lasting positive impact, you must make permanent changes to your eating habits.
The first step towards doing this is by asking - every time you eat or drink something - whether this will bring a net gain or a net loss to your body. For example, choosing water over soda would be a net gain, while ordering a side of fries instead of vegetables would be a net loss.
To decide whether something will be beneficial to your body, Rath says a few common misconceptions need to be cleared up. Most people believe, for example, that eating fewer calories is better for you. In fact, it is just as important to look at how much carbohydrates and sugar your food or drink contains. Most people get too much of those, but not enough protein.
So, next time you are deciding what to eat, look at the ratio between carbohydrates and protein: a good rule of thumb is a 1-to-1 ratio. You should avoid a 10-to-1 ratio (often found in chips or cereals) at all costs.
Even worse for your health are refined carbohydrates. The more refined they are, the more you crave them: you should do everything you can to replace refined carbohydrates with vegetables, as these already include all the carbohydrates you need. Avoid pasta, bread, and rice.
Sugar is as bad for our bodies as carbohydrates are. They are a highly addictive toxin, like nicotine, and increase our risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. It’s next to impossible to eliminate sugar completely from your diet, but you can start by avoiding added sugars. Avoid products with more than 10g of sugar, since sugar has no nutritional value. The same goes for slightly healthier options such as agave nectar, corn syrup, saccharine, honey or stevia.
Another bad eating habit is our tendency to eat more than we need to. One way of dealing with this is by leaving serving plates away from the table. This reduces the temptation of having another serving, especially when everyone else is having one. Since you would have to get up to get more food, you would more consciously decide whether you are still hungry or not. Similarly, the size of the portions on your plate will determine how much you eat.
Rath also says that what you eat first at a meal acts as the “anchor food” for the rest of the meal. That’s why you should always eat the healthy option first, such as the salad or vegetables, as this will decrease your appetite for the starches and dessert, meaning you will eat less, but healthier, overall.
Contrary to popular belief, exercising regularly does not make a difference if you spend the rest of the time being inactive. To achieve lasting results, you need to make your day-to-day routines active ones too.
Unfortunately, this proves to be quite difficult these days as only 20% of jobs require physical movement, a trend that corresponds to a rise in diabetes and obesity. Rath says we actually spend more time sitting down than sleeping, on average.
Sitting for long periods of time has many adverse impacts on your health. It puts pressure on cells and results in the production of 50% more fat in those areas. Research has shown that if you spend more than four hours a day watching TV, you are twice as likely to have an issue with your heart in the long run. If you spend even more than that in front of TV, your risk of death from any cause is increased by 48%!
Research has also shown that as little as 15 minutes of exercise in your day can add up to three years to your life expectancy. Furthermore, the human lifespan is increased by another 4% for every extra 15 minutes of exercise.
So, avoiding inactivity and working out instead is extremely important for overall health and well-being. To do this, you can do your work while walking on a treadmill, as Rath did when writing this book. You can also watch television and work out at the same time, thanks to modern inventions such as elliptical machines and stair steppers. If you can get outside for just five minutes at any point in the day, this will boost your mood as well as revitalize you.
An added bonus of getting more exercise is that if you do it in the morning, you are guaranteed a 12-hour mood boost afterward! It doesn’t have to be a long workout - just 20 minutes of moderate activity will do the deal. On top of that, any workout will burn calories, even long after you’ve stopped exercising. High intensity workouts continue to burn a substantial number of additional calories, over the 14 hours following the exercise.
While exercise definitely has a beneficial effect on your health, it can also increase your ability to get a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep every night, vigorous activity can have more of an effect for you than meditation does.
These days, most people do not get enough sleep. Many believe that pulling all-nighters shows dedication to their work, but it actually has the opposite effect. Sleeping less than eight hours per night reduces productivity at work, and this comes with a cost of $2,000 per person, per year to the industry.
Losing 90 minutes of sleep at night reduces alertness during the day by almost one-third. That is also the reason why pilots or surgeons have prescribed rest times - you wouldn’t want someone flying your plane who was only two-thirds awake, would you? However, adding as little as 15 or 30 minutes of sleep every night can make all the difference.
Sleep deprivation has other adverse health effects as well. It has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and strokes, and can affect the immune system - people who get less sleep are more likely to catch a cold.
With sleep, quality beats quantity. The most important sleep phase for us is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when memories are put into perspective. During this time, we also process emotional experiences and make sense of what we learned the day before. Therefore, your decision-making ability will improve after a good night’s sleep as well, and you’re bound to be more successful.
To ensure a restful sleep, don’t snooze your alarm in the morning. If your last hour of sleep is broken up, you are going to feel groggy when finally getting up. Instead, set your alarm at the last possible time and get out of bed immediately.
To fall asleep quickly in the evenings, avoid exposure to blue light late in the day. Blue light can reduce your melatonin levels, which reduces your ability to go to sleep. Also, create a one-hour bedtime ritual to ensure your body and mind are ready to go to bed. This means, don’t drink, don’t eat, and don’t check your emails or spend time on social media one hour before going to sleep. If you are easily woken by noises in the night, put on some white noise when you fall asleep. It can mute unexpected noises, allowing you to get a more restful night’s sleep.
Rath says social networks can make all the difference when trying to make healthier lifestyle choices. Try to find friends or family who are willing to lead a healthier life with you. Here are some tips to make it work!
For anyone wanting to improve their lifestyle, Rath’s “Eat, Move, Sleep” provides interesting research and practical tips to make your life better and healthier. However, his findings should be taken with a pinch of salt, since he writes from personal experience.
Daniel H. Pink, writer of self-help books such as “Drive,” describes Rath as “one of the most successful nonfiction writers of his generation,” and hails “Eat Move Sleep” as “a blockbuster book” and a “transformative work.”
Try some of the eight practical ways to create your own healthier lifestyle and see what effects they have on your overall well-being.
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