OPN Man exercising
According to research, moderate levels of exercise are best for the majority of people Image Credit: Shutterstock

In the contemporary world, our natural inclination often steers us toward immediate rewards rather than those promised in the future. This preference for instant gratification is a phenomenon known in behavioural science as “Hyperbolic Discounting.”

This tendency to prioritise short-term gains, driven by impulsive behaviour, can result in suboptimal decision-making in our daily lives. A pertinent example is found in sugar consumption, where the immediate pleasure of a dopamine rush takes precedence over long-term well-being.

Behavioural pharmacologist Warren K. Bickel aptly describes sugar consumption, akin to other forms of drug dependence, as marked by a swift devaluation of delayed outcomes, especially concerning the dependent substance.

Navigating the path to optimal wellness involves making choices that can be both intricate and challenging. However, it is crucial to recognise that our most valuable asset rests on the foundation of health. Therefore, nurturing it becomes imperative before it’s too late.

As sports go, jogging or running have to be some of the most efficient on your time. Image Credit: Camera Press

Moreover, the era of information overload can be overwhelming — uncertainty about genuinely healthy foods, trustworthy sources, and where to commence the journey. The realms of food and exercise science may appear complex, particularly for those unacquainted with these subjects. For some, defining wellness on a personal and detailed level may be a struggle.

While these obstacles are legitimate, it’s essential to realise that they can be surmounted with proper guidance and counselling. Unless one’s lifestyle proves sustainable, the likelihood of adherence diminishes, leading to extended periods of inconsistency.

To bridge this gap, the key lies in cultivating a healthy lifestyle that is not only sustainable but also deeply enjoyable for individuals, irrespective of their experience level.

On account of endless medical research and trials conducted over the last couple of decades, and the experiences of an endless list of people who experienced positive changes, one point stands out above all others: “The best investment you can ever make is in your own health.” And doing so will result in:

*Enhanced mental health and mood

*Boost in energy and productivity

*Avoiding diseases and health problems

*Combating stress and depression

*Expanding memory and thinking skills

*Significantly improving bedroom life

Healthy food
The new approach to healthy eating is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Because at a cellular level, you are not the same as anyone else out there Image Credit: Pixabay

Having a fair understanding of the basic fundamentals of sustainability is a good place to start.

Here are six sustainable habits you can start today to embark on a beautiful journey:

1. It’s easier than you think to reap the health benefits of exercise: you don’t need to spend hours at the gym or run miles. Only 30 minutes of moderate exercise 4-5 times per week is required at the beginning. Even that can be divided into two 15-minute or three 10-minute workout sessions if necessary. The key is to commit to some moderate physical activity on most days, no matter how little. As exercising becomes a habit, you can gradually add more minutes or try new activities. If you stick with it, the advantages of exercise will start to pay off.

2. You don’t have to suffer to see results. According to research, moderate levels of exercise are best for the majority of people. Moderate means you’re breathing a little heavier than usual but aren’t out of breath. For example, you should be able to converse with your walking companion but not easily sing a song, and your body should feel warmer as you move but not overheat.

3. The gym is not necessary. Yes! You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself through long, monotonous workouts to reap the benefits of exercise. Once you engage in something you enjoy, the likelihood of you showing up will be more. So discover activities you enjoy, and you will begin to feel better, look better, and get more out of life. Swimming, badminton, or just running are some options.

4. Eat tasty food: Finding the right balance and optimal timing of macronutrients is critical for increasing performance and recovery when it comes to fuelling for exercise. However, raw, boiled, and bland food appear to be portrayed as the default choices for a healthy diet, but this is not the ideal case; instead, prepare meals that you enjoy and can sustain for a longer period. Just try to incorporate healthier alternatives. For example, instead of refined oil, use olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee, and instead of refined sugar, use honey or jaggery or monk fruit or stevia.

drink water
To avoid dehydration, drink approximately 2-3 litres of water per day

5. Eat for optimal performance: To begin, increase the nutrient density of your diet by including some of the following nutritious foods: leafy greens, berries, eggs, sweet potatoes, and protein-rich foods.

6. Hydration is critical for overall health and exercise performance. Dehydration can cause cardiovascular strain, metabolic dysfunction, and an increase in body temperature. To avoid dehydration, drink approximately 2-3 litres of water per day to maintain adequate hydration levels.

Bottom line: Think of a healthy lifestyle as a long-term goal. Whether you want to run a mile or a marathon, or you just want to be fit in general, start with small and attainable goals. Trying to change your entire diet and exhaust yourself through strenuous exercise can be overwhelming, and it is almost certainly unsustainable.

Once you notice positive results, gradually increase the intensity and continue living a wonderful life in which your body supports you physically and mentally in becoming a better version of yourself.

Aadil Qayoom is a noted professional wellness coach and founder of ‘ForeverFit with Aadil’