So, recently, I went to the doctors, and I was told I had high cholesterol levels. Now, that’s not technically such a bad thing, since having high cholesterol is pretty much genetic for me, but it will cause a couple of problems, later in life, if you don’t monitor it. For example, excess cholesterol (that is excess bad cholesterol – there are two types) can lead to plaque in your arteries, which can lead to heart problems, like atherosclerosis (a fancy word for blocked arteries).
That’s why, I’ve been tracking my food intake, my exercise regimes, and basically re-evaluating my lifestyle. Now, it’s rather difficult to track that on its own. I mean, you have to take a good detailed look at the food you’re eating, and count calories. I hate counting calories…actually, I hate counting things in general, but particularly calories. I don’t want to look at my life in numbers, it’s too tedious and time-wasting. That’s why I’ve found a handy little app to help me with that.
Life In Sums
Alright, if you already track your health, then you already know a couple of handy little apps. This one is for both iPhone and Android, so it’s good for anyone who wants to try to stay fit and healthy. It’s called…
It has a paired app called MoveSum, but that pretty much just tracks how many steps you take in a day. Let’s focus on LifeSum today. It basically tracks your food intake, compared to your level of activity. Normally, I’m good with my food intake and my level of activity, and I do balance it all out, so that I end up with the average 2000 kcal, a day. However, I’ve noticed that there are more days than I’d like, when I’d take more than 2000, I sometimes go even up to 2500 a day, and that’s why I need to change some of the things I do, and most of that is focused on the things I eat.
Therefore, I recommend getting this app, or something similar. Below, I’ve listed the five lifestyle changes I’ve made, with this app as my guide.
1. Reducing Intake of Processed Foods
Before I had this app, I was happy eating salami, pastrami, and basically all kinds of processed foods, including those made by big restaurant chains. You don’t know exactly what is put into them, and most of the time, those preservatives stay in your system longer than natural foods. So, I’ve nearly cut out all processed foods entirely. Of course, I get those cheat days, where I can’t be bothered to make my own, or I don’t have time to, so I buy them anyway.
Now, when I say processed foods, I mean foods that are readily prepared, like boxed meals (you know, the ones you find at supermarkets that you just heat up in the microwave), or things like salami, pastrami, ham, bacon (I know! I miss it too!). All these foods are pre-made, with all kinds of spices, chemicals, preservatives, salt and sugar. That’s why the app recommends you make your own. Yes, there will be days where you can’t avoid them, but for the most part, but if you stick to a routine, or create a meal plan, you’ll easily cut down your intake.
2. Drink More Water
Ok, so I drink a lot of water anyway, since I have an entire Brita bottle before breakfast (no I don’t mean the jug, I mean the handy little one that you can carry in your handbag). This water bottle, is equivalent of two glasses of water, so before breakfast, I’m already taking nearly a quarter of my daily quota. The average amount of water you need, a day, is eight glasses. Of course, this number varies, depending on diet and lifestyle. I myself take this average amount, now that I’m tracking it. Before, I would have so much less than eight. Sometimes, I’d even function with, at most five glasses, in a day! That’s why it’s rather handy to have a tracker. Now, having very little water is bad for you, but having too much can also be bad for you. Not only does it over-hydrate you, it can also lead to failing functions, on a cellular level.
So, that’s why this app, and any similar ones to it, is a good guide. It’ll tell you how many glasses of water you need, you can even set the limit as high or as low as you need. Mine is set at eight glasses (approximately 250ml each), so I know I’m taking the right amount. Of course, it also depends on the day, my salt intake, and the amount of exercise I do that determines whether or not I should drink more. However, seeing those glasses fill up, every time I have a drink, is satisfying enough! I love seeing the small, green tick, at the end, to know I’ve had my fill.
3. Fruit, Veg, and Fish Trackers
When it comes the big greens, and the 5-a-day guideline, I am woefully lacking, and LifeSum has just proved to me how lacking I am. It’s taking some time to build this habit up, but that’s only because I live in a house of four, and meals are already cooked, so making something else would simply waste it. I know it’s unhealthy to leave out fruits, vegetables, fish and proteins out of the diet. Even I struggle, most of the time, to get the right amount in every day. However, I am getting better. Before I even had this app, I thought I was doing ok, with the amount of fruits and vegetables I was eating. I mean, at least once a week I’d buy a salad for lunch, and I’d buy fruits so I could create smoothies (although I’d be too lazy to create any, so the fruits would go into the bin), but I found out, that that wasn’t enough. I lacked iron in my blood, I lacked Vitamin D and the good Omega 3 that helps keep the heart and liver healthy.
Now, with LifeSum, I can actually make sure I’m getting those good stuff in. So, every week I buy my fruits and veg, but instead of leaving them in the fridge to rot, I’m using them in other meals, such as my morning oatmeal (which is good for lowering cholesterol, by the way), or in tuna salads and omelettes. By mixing up the essentials I’m lacking in, I’m actually getting the right amount each day. Slowly, I’m hitting that 5-a-day mark. Of course, I’ve still got a long way to go, before I can say I’m hitting that mark, regularly.
4. Meal Planning
I don’t usually plan my meals, because I tend to do whatever my gut feels like. For example, if I’m free tomorrow, I’d cook myself an omelette for breakfast, and then see what I can have for lunch, in terms of leftovers. However, I found that system to be very sporadic. I wouldn’t get the right nutrients I’d need in that day, and it would simply put my routine off balance. Plus, by watching what I eat, and seeing how that affects my calorie intake, and what it does to my cholesterol levels, it does frighten me a little.
That’s why, along with this app, I’ve decided to create a meal plan. This is mostly for breakfast and lunch, since we always have dinner already prepared the night before. However, it is a good thing to have a meal plan anyway, because it means you have a good grasp on what you need for the week. So, for example, if I was going to do some Yoga or Pilates on a certain day, then I’d know to make something light, before I practice, and for when I’m done, I’d make a light smoothie, something with refreshing fruit, like watermelons, or fruits with high water content. Not only will it hydrate me, but it will give me a little bit of energy, while I prepare for the rest of the day. Making up a meal plan can be time consuming at first, and sometimes, you don’t want to stick to it, but it will become easier to figure out.
Just think about the nutrients you need, like all those vitamins, proteins and unsaturated fats (which have the good cholesterol that lowers your bad one), and find foods that are rich in them. Once you have a list, jot down recipes that contain a mixture of them, make sure they’re easy to follow, and they fit within your lifestyle. When you have that, just assign days to them. For example, if you’re usually free on Saturday and Sunday, why not have eggs on those days. You can make omelettes, or healthy pancakes (that don’t contain too much sugar), whereas on the days you’re busy, have oatmeal, or green smoothies, that contain products like Greek yoghurt, or protein rich foods. You’ll never know what you’ll discover, unless you try it.
5. Life and its Plans
Now, tracking healthy habits isn’t for everyone. Some people are fine going about as they normally do, as long as they have everything in moderation, and that’s ok. However, there are some of us who don’t have that luxury, and genetics dictates that we have to make sure we’re keeping that delicate balance, otherwise it could mean disaster. As for me, I have a likely chance at developing high blood pressure, when I’m much older and my body starts to slow down. So by changing my lifestyle now, I’m probably going to be able to get through that without too much of a fuss.
Now tracking food intake, water, exercise, and making meal plans are great and all, but simply tracking and planning isn’t going to cut it. You need a deal where you’re getting the maximum effect from all of it. That’s where the life plans on LifeSum come in. They have the Ketogenic, the Whole and Healthy, the Mediterranean Smorgasbord plans and more, but with so many to choose from, how can you choose? That’s where their life quiz comes in. It asks you questions about your lifestyle, (and you have to answer them as honestly as you can) and it chooses the plan for you.
Now, when I took the test, I got the Food For Strength Plan. This plan is dedicated to increasing my protein levels, since I don’t get enough. Now, LifeSum doesn’t actually plan your meals for you. It suggests recipes and the amount of carbs, protein or fat you need in the day, so you’ll need to use your initiative here, but that’s ok, nothing in life comes easy. You have to work at it to get results. For me, it’s to learn to like eggs, because for the longest time, I hated them. Now, they’re not so bad. So, learn what your plan is, and get started. Be creative, you don’t have to always follow the recipe, you can add your own flavour to it. I did, and so far, I’m feeling healthier than ever!
Well, there you have it. This week’s crafts post is one about health! Who knew it’d fall under that! Anyway, it’s your turn. Do you have the LifeSum app, or any similar ones you’d like to share? What do you think about it? Do you love it, do you hate it? Let us know! Leave your tips in the jar below, and we’ll see you soon!
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