Ten Things You Should Start Doing Today

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Sailors receive instruction during a yoga class.
Master-At-Arms 2nd Class Nichole Lowery instructs sailors during a sunrise yoga session on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chris Liaghat/U.S. Navy photo)

When people say you need to get healthy or that you need to start stretching, it is easy to get lost in the vastness of the options available. The following is a list of 10 things you "need to do today," with specific examples and links to more ideas of how to make them work for you to create a healthy mind and body.

1. Know your numbers: Get a physical and find out what your basic health numbers are. Height, weight, body fat, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood-sugar numbers (to name a few) are very important to determining your general health. See link for more information on Health Screening 101.

2. Carb up: What? I thought carbs were bad? Eat more fruits and vegetables. It is still important to avoid sugars, even limiting your grains, But you miss out on vital nutrients if you neglect natural fruits and vegetables, because you want to avoid carbs. Get Lean With Energy to Train. When it comes to eating, however, most of us will be moving in the right direction if we just eat less.

3. Drink more water and avoid soda: If you can add significantly more water to your diet all day long, you likely will avoid sugary drinks and eat smaller portions at meals and snacks. We are made up of mostly water, and we need water throughout the day in order to function properly. Work to reduce soda and juices; they are loaded with the sugar you want to avoid. Try the 10-day challenge by adding more water to your day and see what happens. Weight Intake Test.

4. Foam rolling: Learning how to use a foam roller is like having your own masseuse in your living room anytime. I refer to my foam roller as the "poor man's masseuse." Working out knots and painful soft tissues around the joints is very helpful with general well-being and pain-free movement.  Get to know the term Myofascial Release (MFR).

5. Stretching: Foam rolling, static stretching and dynamic warmups go together to make minor aches and pains decrease as well as improve overall flexibility and mobility. Adding a day per week to your difficult training programs (5-6 days a week of training) is a beneficial way to take a recovery day and improve performance.

6. Resistance training: If you do no physical activity or only walk, consider adding in some form of resistance training. This can be as simple as using dumbbells or doing calisthenics in your home or joining a gym with free weights and machines. Either way, resistance training will help you build stronger bones, muscles and joints to support you as you age. Stay strong. Some ideas can be found in the Circuit Training Article.

7. Cardio: Do it. Work your lungs any way you prefer. Walk, jog, bike, elliptical, row, swim and even circuit training has a cardiovascular effect. Just breathe harder and get the heart pumping. If you are overweight, start off easy and work with more non-impact options of cardiovascular activity. Do this for a few months, and you'll notice a difference in your health numbers. Your body needs oxygen; breathe in more through increased activity levels.

8. Try to go natural: If you can avoid foods that are not natural or processed, you will feel better for it in a relatively short period of time. This means more fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries and lean meats. Avoid processed meats and breads. It is nearly impossible to eliminate all non-natural foods in today's world. Just do your best to limit these manmade foods if you can.

9. Learn more: Research and experiment with different fitness programs and food plans. Find what works best for you. There are a nearly unlimited number of diets, workouts and methods to train. Keep moving and keep changing the plan to ways that you enjoy the most.

10. Stay motivated: We do not always have days where we are motivated to train. This is when you have to do it anyway. Discipline and habits will get you through the unmotivated days. Keep moving, even if it is nothing more than a five- to 10-minute walk after every meal, do it.

These 10 things are suggestions to consider when you really are motivated to get healthy. Do not get overwhelmed by the myriad ways to lose weight or exercise. Just get up, move and stick to the basics.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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