Guide To Healthy Living – The MEN Approach

Tips and actionable steps for living a happier and healthier life

- | 39 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Health & Wellness

A man in doctorate robe pointing to healthy living guide

Are you doing all that it takes to live a healthy life?

Probably you are. However, it is also possible that you do not exactly know what to do nor have the time to devote for healthy living.

In either of the cases, you are most likely to suffer later in your life.

I’m sorry if I sound harsh. You may not like my words and the tone, but sometimes the truth is bitter.

I know I could be wrong, but isn’t it taking a big risk if you do not live your life in the best way?

You might end up regretting later, so the wise thing would be to take the right steps for healthy living today.

No, I’m not lecturing but narrating on the basis of my personal life experiences.

There is no set formula for healthy living, but most of us associate it with eating right and exercising well.

I feel living healthy consists of total wellness in the aspect of the mind, body, and spirit.

Even if you take out the spiritual aspect, you need to take care of your mental and physical health.

That is what I call the MEN approach.

No, it’s not the approach that only men take. 🙂 In fact, it’s got nothing to do with men and is equally applicable for women!

I’m sure you’ll like it and find it helpful. You can treat this post as a mini-guide and resource to achieve your objective of healthy living.

“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

The MEN Approach To Healthy Living

No beating around the bush anymore.

MEN is a simple mnemonic acronym that you can simply make as your good life mantra. It means:

M – Meditation

E – Exercise

N – Nutrition

These elements of the acronym are a few of the well-known practices used for achieving good health and wellness.

Harleena mentioned them in one of her earlier health and fitness post.

I’ve just focussed on the basic three aspects of healthy living, as it’s the minimum you can get away with and yet get the maximum value.

Probably you heard of them, but  do not know of them in detail.

Even if you know about them, do you practice them?

There is a big difference between knowing and doing – your knowing that MEN is important is not enough.

In this post, I want to help you with actionable suggestions and tips on how to get started.

The importance of MEN is as true today as it was centuries ago. This is what Hippocrates had to say, in about the fourth century before Christ:

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” ~ Hippocrates

Things have not changed, and if you add the taking care of the mental aspect to Hippocrates’s suggestion, you will more so take care of all the aspects of good health and wellness.

You will find plenty of ancient and modern wisdom and research studies that harp on the importance of the mind.

“The mind has great influence over the body, and maladies often have their origin there. ~ Jean Baptiste Molière”

You need to work on your mind and body as they both are interrelated and essential ingredients to achieving better health and happiness.

Let’s start with the mind.

A Buddhist monk stand on top of Himalayas in meditation

Meditation – Why and How Should You Meditate

This is the first part of the MEN approach for living a good life.

Meditation gives you peace of mind. It helps you live in the moment and be with your own self.

Meditation also helps you live a healthy life and achieve happiness in life.

Check out the scientifically proven health benefits of meditation in this Aha!NOW post.

Meditation relieves you from stress and anxiety. It also helps reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, and improve the immune system.

You even experience increased positive emotions if you practice meditation on a daily basis for long term.

Meditation helps improve your emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual wellness. It is definitely an important ingredient for healthy living.

These WebMD articles here and here tell you how meditating for only 20 minutes a day can heal your body and mind, and balance your body’s system.

Do you meditate? If not, what stops you from practicing meditation?

Remember, it has nothing to do with religion and spirituality. Do not hesitate and feel lethargic – just go for it and remove that mind block.

Did you know that research studies conclude meditation increases gray matter in the brain and its pain relieving properties beat morphine?

Tips to Practice Meditation

Here is how you should practice meditation:

1) Time:  Choose a time when you are ready – make sure your stomach is neither too full nor completely empty. Meditate out of your will and make sure to dedicate your time completely to it.

2) Place: Start with a quiet place – silence is golden for the beginners. Keep your eyes closed and wear comfortable clothes that are not too tight.

3) Body: Stretch out or warm up – you may have to sit still for quite some time. So it is suggested to stretch your body parts like the back, hands, legs, and neck before you start meditation.

4) Posture: Sit comfortably in the right posture – do not get too comfortable that you fall asleep! Keep your spine upright and be relaxed. You can even meditate sitting on a chair.

5) Focus: Focus on your breath – be conscious of the “in” and “out” of your breath but do not try to control it. If your mind wanders (it would), then bring it back to focus on your breathing.

Let me tell you that mediation is not easy initially. However, do not be disheartened because you’ll get better with practice.

When you’ve successfully practiced breathing meditation for some time, you may advance to other meditation techniques like concentration meditation, where you focus on a single point or repeat a single word, mantra, or action.

Meditation helps you focus your mind. It calms and relaxes the mind, increases awareness, and helps you to be in the moment.

It may also bring a smile to your face, change your perspectives and reactions, and help you live with happiness.

I’d recommend going through this detailed WikiHow guide for more information on how to meditate.

If you do not have the time for it, just watch this short video:

How to Meditate ~ Wellcast ~ YouTube Video

Did you find it interesting? Here is another video that may make you more confident on how to start meditating to achieve better health and happiness.

TAKEAWAY

Best times to meditate are early mornings or as soon as you wake up, before lunch, after work in the evening, or before sleeping at night.

Take out at least 10 minutes each for meditating in the morning and at night.

Treat meditation as a medication and make it a compulsory part of your daily routine.

Practice breath meditation whenever possible throughout the day, even while at work.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

Girl exercising by the river for mind and body control

Exercise – Why and What Exercises To Do

This is the second part of the MEN approach to good health.

According to Wikipedia, physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness.

I know you know this. However, I hope you do not mind me asking – do you exercise on a daily basis?

Did you say you do not get time for it? And you still want to remain healthy!

Well, exercise is the golden key to your good health, so there is no way you should avoid it. Exercise has tremendous health benefits.

By exercising you can strengthen your muscles, service the cardiovascular system, lose or maintain weight, boost the immune system, and keep many diseases at bay including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Physical exercise is directly related to better mental health. Exercising may help you develop positive self-esteem, induce good mood, and dispel depression.

Exercise helps to remain flexible and reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone. It also helps improve cognitive functioning.

Read this Mayo Clinic article to know the detailed benefits of regular physical activity.

Did you know that exercise increases energy levels as endorphins are released into your bloodstream and increases serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity?

Tips for Basic Exercises

There are so many exercises that you can perform. But you can get away doing only a few of them to enjoy good health.

Exercises are generally of three types.

1) Stretching and relaxing exercises: These are the easiest and simplest exercises that you can do at home, office, or wherever you are.

These are also called the flexibility exercises and should be done on a daily basis.

Stretching exercises help to improve joint flexibility and keep the muscles supple. Eventually, you avoid or reduce the chances of injury due to a rusty or stiff body.

You can do some floor exercises that you probably did back in school and even try Yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates. Here are some flexibility exercises for the seniors.

2) Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises: These exercises help increase the body metabolism and burn calories and excess body fat.

You may experience heavy breathing while performing the aerobic exercises.

Cardiovascular exercises, as the name itself suggests, helps keep your heart healthy, maintain good blood circulation, and helps you lose or maintain weight.

Most common aerobic activities are walking, running, and swimming.

Are you doing any of these? If you are, try to do them for about half an hour at least three to four days a week.

Other cardiovascular exercises are cycling, hiking, and playing any sport like tennis. Here is a basic cardio workout that you can perform at home.

3) Strength conditioning or anaerobic exercises: These are intense exercises basically to strengthen and tone your muscles as well as improve bone density.

It is mostly the athletes and body builders that do them to gain power, speed, strength and build muscle mass.

Anaerobic exercises may include exercises that can be performed with or without equipment.

You can do burpees, lunges, pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups. You can also do weight training, sprinting, high-intensity interval training, etc.

Here are ten best anaerobic exercises for you to know and perform.

Do you feel like starting your exercises right now? Watch this video for the basic stretching workout that will make you feel good.

Feel Good Stretching Routine ~ Fitness Blender’s  ~ YouTube video

If you are interested in the cardio workout, watch this video. You will also find all types of exercise videos by Fitness Blender on YouTube, and they are good.

TAKEAWAY

Go for a 30-minute brisk morning walk daily and follow it up with 10-minutes of stretching exercises.

Cycling, swimming, and gymming are additional options that you can pursue later during the day.

Make exercising a compulsory part of your daily routine. Always warm-up before doing any intense exercise.

Avoid exercising after eating heavy food or when you are ill or feel sick.

Your body needs rest – so get your 7-8 hours non-stop sleep at night.

A girl feeling good with balanced nutrition and healthy diet

Nutrition – Why and What to Eat

This is the third part of the MEN approach for healthy living.

The food you eat should not only be good in taste but also good for health.

In fact, good nutrition is essential to have both, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you do not eat a nutritious diet, you may become physically weak and mentally dull.

Proper nutrition is essential for proper growth and development of the mind and body.

On the other hand, poor nutrition may cause deficiency diseases like anemia, blindness, scurvy, and even obesity.

Typical nutrients that you should acquire through food are dietary fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins.

Complete nutrition also includes carbohydrates, fat, essential fatty acids, protein, minerals, and even water.

Tips for a Healthy Diet for Good Nutrition

Depending on whether you are a vegetarian or non-vegetarian, your daily diet may differ a bit.

However, you should always have these elements in your diet:

1) Fresh fruits: apple, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, blueberries, cherries, pomegranate, papaya, pear, pineapple, etc.

2) Fresh vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, kale, mustard greens, onions, parsley, tomatoes, spinach, etc.

3) Whole grains: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers, wild rice, etc.

4) Low-fat dairy products:  low-fat milk, low-fat natural yogurt, non-fat cheese, non-fat mozzarella, fat-free cream cheese, etc.

5) Lean protein: beans, lentils, fish, tofu, soymilk, nut butter, egg whites, quinoa, oatmeal, etc.

6) Nuts and seeds: almond, walnut, pecans, cashew, cedarnut, chia seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seed, sunflower seeds, etc.

7) Healthy fats: avocados, whole eggs, fatty fish, nuts, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, beans, omega-3 fatty acids, etc.

A healthy daily diet would consist of some or all these nutrients to maintain overall health.

Moreover, there are certain foods that you must limit or avoid so that you do not become unhealthy and suffer in life.

1) You should not eat more calories than what you expend. Thus, you should not overeat.

2) You should limit the intake of salt and sugar in your diet.

3) You should limit the intake of highly processed food like white bread, white rice, pastries, etc.

Various cancer and heart-related organizations recommend including unprocessed plant foods in your diet.

4) You should limit the consumption of sugary drinks, fast food, and red meat as well as coffee and tea.

5) Limit the consumption of saturated fats and completely avoid food with trans fat.

Fats are also essential for healthy living, but you have to be careful and selective in the type of fats you include in your diet.

Your diet should have more of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats than saturated fats and trans fatty acids.

The latter can raise the LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the blood, which should be avoided at any cost.

Examples of monosaturated fat – Canola oil, Olive oil, Peanut oil

Examples of Polyunsaturated fat – Safflower oil, Sesame oil, Sunflower oil

Examples of Saturated fat – Animal food, Butter, Cream, Cheese, Palm oil

Did you know that the omega-3’s in fish oil (DHA & EPA) can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, improve cognitive function, shunt breast cancer development, relieve depression, and increase muscle protein synthesis?

For healthy living, you need to adopt healthy eating habits and a healthy diet.

You may also need to alter your lifestyle to adapt to healthier ways of living and lower the risks of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Do go through this healthy nutrition guide and read this Mayo Clinic Nutrition and Healthy Eating section. If you are interested to know the healthy diet options in your part of the world, check out this article.

I have a video for you if you are concerned about nutrition and conscious about your diet.

Heart-healthy nutrition tips ~ Sunnybrook Hospital ~ YouTube video

TAKEAWAY

Be conscious and careful about what you eat. Follow the above-mentioned suggestions for foods to eat or not eat.

Include fruits and vegetables of different colors in your diet. Use as less cooking oil as possible.

Rest for a few minutes after eating, and have dinner at least about two hours before sleeping.

Walk about a 100 steps after eating to help in the digestion process.

Drink plenty of clean water as that also helps in digestion and supplies important nutrition.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” ~ Buddha

Wrapping Up

You have gone through all the three parts of the MEN approach to healthy living – deep meditation, regular exercise, and proper nutrition.

Upon implementation, you’ll be the owner of a healthy body and mind. You’ll have more chances of being successful and less of suffering.

Make MEN a part of your daily routine.

Read about the Ayurvedic lifestyle in this post, it may help you create a perfect daily routine to follow.

If you follow the MEN approach, you’ll most likely have a healthy heart; you can read it here.

The suggested healthy living tips are also good for mental health as explained in this Aha!NOW post.

Probably there is more you can do to make your life better.

However, even if you follow and implement the suggestions to take care of your mind and body as mentioned here, you would achieve a lot.

So, are you going to live the MEN way of life for healthy living? 🙂

“I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Over To You –

What do you do to live a healthy life? Do you meditate? How much do you exercise and what do you eat to stay healthy? Please share your experiences and tips in the comments.



Show Comments

39 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Shefali Vaid

    January 28, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    I have included Yoga, Zumba and Dance as my daily health keeping drivers.
    That being physical, I am also trying to focus on a healthy diet with low calories yet high nutrition.

    Many have already said almost everything I had in mind about this article.

    Great one!

  2. Dan Ewah

    November 12, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Hey Vinay,

    Wow this post was packed full of amazing tips to live a healthy life.

    I guess I’ll have to bookmark this post, it’s stuck full of value.

    Thanks and keep it coming bro.

    Amazing.

    Thanks again

    Dan




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Guide To Healthy Living - The MEN Approach