Remember the last time you were about to grab an extra bag of fries only to be haunted by the phrase: “a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”? While that saying isn’t exactly accurate or motivating (guilt-tripping doesn’t count), it does ring a bell and prompt an evaluation of our decisions – for better or worse.
When used in a positive light, these quotes or mantras can help us form good habits and decisions. In conjunction with World Health Day on April 7, here are 9 mantras to live by to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Eat the rainbow
Colours matter when it comes to your diet. Eating more vegetables and fruit is always a good idea, but focusing on a variety of colours will reap more benefits for your body. As Healing Diets student Davina Goh once told us, “Each colour in the grocery aisle represents a unique set of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Diversifying the colours in your basket ensures that you’ll be getting a wide range of nutrients. This applies to other foods too, like beans and grains.”
80 percent fuel, 20 percent fun
Based on the Pareto Principle in economics, 80% of consequences (or outputs) come from 20% of causes (or inputs). The rule has since been applied across various industries and areas of life, including nutrition. For the average person who can’t be bothered with counting calories or following a strict diet, the 80/20 rule is ideal as it emphasises on moderation – 80% healthy choices and 20% flexibility for less healthy options. This may look like eating healthy, whole foods during the week and allowing yourself to indulge a little over the weekend, without feeling guilty for having a “cheat meal.”
Drink more water
Say it with us: hydration. It sounds simple, yet so often neglected as we go about our busy lives. Here are the facts – water makes up 50 to 70 percent of our body weight, and every cell, tissue and organ in the body needs water to function properly. Dehydration can cause you to feel tired or light-headed, on top of causing dry skin and contributing to breakouts. So, really, drink more water and your skin, hair, mind and body will thank you for it.
Mind over matter really does matter
In terms of fitness, your mind is often stronger than your body allows you to think. Self-talk during your workout is proven to boost motivation for you to push harder and also makes exercise more enjoyable. Like your muscles, your mind can also be trained to “think your way” to better health and fitness. Positive affirmations and mantras like “mind over matter” as well as “I am my only obstacle” or Nike’s “just do it” can be very empowering too.
A good laugh and a long sleep is the best cure for anything
We often hear that laughter is the best medicine, but arguably of equal importance is sleep. The above Irish proverb sums it up perfectly. Whilst laughter relieves tension and improves mood, sleep enables the body to repair and regulate itself to ensure a clear mind and a strong and well-rested body to take on a new day. Sleep is also essential to lower risks of weight gain and heart disease. Aside from these physiological benefits, consider how laughter and sleep are often a remedy to our worry.
Face your stuff, don’t stuff your face
Many of us eat even when we’re not hungry. Sometimes, we use hunger to justify snacking, when in fact, we may be feeling bored, anxious or emotional. In any of the latter situations, eating may provide temporary comfort, but it will only contribute unnecessary calories and leave you with an unsolved problem. Instead, try looking for an alternative solution, such as taking a walk, calling a friend or actually facing what you’re trying to avoid. The next time you’re tempted to snack, ask yourself: “am I eating because I’m really hungry or is there something I need to deal with?”
Nurture with nature
Spending time in nature is scientifically proven to improve health and well-being; it’s not just beneficial, it’s necessary for a healthy mind and body. Multiple studies have shown that outdoor activities and nature walks help to uplift moods, reduce stress, improve fitness and enhance overall health. While we can’t always be at the park or in a forest, we can enjoy similar benefits with indoor plants at home. If you don’t already have some potted greens around, it’s worth adding them to your crib now.
You’d think that breathing should be natural and involuntary, but being conscious about it makes a world of difference. Having a bad day? Pause and take a deep breath. Is anxiety creeping in? Keep breathing. Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Just breathe. The process of breathing slowly, gently and deeply sends oxygen into the cells to produce energy and expel toxins. This also lowers heart rate, calms the mind and soothes tension so that you can think straight and be more present in overcoming whatever challenges you face.
You may also like: 8 best meditation apps to get you through tough times
Remember your why
At the end of the day, we all need a stronger motivation to commit to all of the above. Whether it’s to stay around longer for our loved ones, to enjoy a better quality of life or to be able to do the things we love, we need to find our why and stick by it to keep ourselves in check as we strive towards a healthier lifestyle – or any of our goals, for that matter.