Many of us aspire to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, but many Americans aren’t sure which advice will lead them down the road towards optimal health.
For years, we’ve heard that good health is a product of diet and exercise, but according to a recent Cleveland Clinic and Parade Magazine survey, many of us are confused.
Dr. Mark Hyman of the Cleveland Clinic tells us, “We’re confused about what to eat; we’re confused about what kind of exercise we should do. One of the myths out there is that if you exercise, you can lose weight – that the best way to lose weight is to exercise a lot, and then you can eat whatever you want. There’s actually great evidence that you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.”
Three-quarters of those surveyed say they’d rather be considered strong than thin. And, 88% believe body image expectations are unrealistic. Dr. Hyman says many people think they need to have perfect habits all of the time to be healthy. “I think there’s a lot of aspiration for people to do everything right; to eat right, to exercise right, to meditate, to sleep, and life intervenes. The key is to focus on those habits that you can do consistently, and give yourself wiggle room when you’re not perfect.”
Many people say they’re worried about heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, but not as many are willing to make changes to lower their disease risk. Dr. Hyman says sometimes, a big change can provide big results. “Making more extreme changes, to get more profound changes in your health, very rapidly, is often a wake-up call for people. So, making incremental changes and little changes can be helpful and anything is good; but often, if you make a big change, you’ll often see a lot of your chronic issues go away, and that’s motivating to continue.”
Dr. Hyman adds that focusing on feeling better now, instead of thinking about the future, can make it easier for healthy changes to stick. He also says that when it comes to diet advice, there are basic principles on what to eat that apply to just about everyone. He says that a plant-rich diet that is low in sugar and starch, with plenty of good quality fats and quality protein is the way to go.