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Modern lifestyle, media, diet and you

Eat your veggies
Eat your veggiesWikimedia Commons Public Domain

We are bombarded daily with the need to be thin and fit. Scantily clad 20 somethings of both sexes with perfect 10 shapes adorn every magazine page making us normal folks feel inadequate and inferior. Meanwhile Americans get fatter and more out of shape each day.

If you look at the people around you, overweight people are now the majority. There may be one in a thousand people who actually resemble those people on your television set. Don't feel so bad about yourself, you are in good company. Don't forget, the people on television are hand picked, edited, and airbrushed. There are no casting calls for life. You get what you are given.

The best defense against all this hype is to remain positive. Adapt a more realistic set of goals. Be the best you possible. Forget the perfect syndrome created by the media. Focus on being happy and healthy. You'll feel much better about yourself and your place in the world.

It's very easy to lose control of your health in modern times. We seldom walk to get where we are going. Fast, calorie laden food is everywhere and it's convenient. We are over tasked at work and home due to unrealistic expectations caused by media hype.

What can you do about all this? You can refuse to give in to it. Live your life the way it was meant to be lived. Stop worrying about society and it's pressures. Do what's right for you. Some people thrive on stress. Let them have it. Graduate to a better way of life.

There are simple ways to improve your health, without starving yourself in the process. There's no need to turn to fad diets. Just avoiding fast food can save you thousands of calories a week. If you doubt this, the calorie content of fast food is readily available.

Get up a few minutes earlier. Make yourself a nice breakfast. Try a bowl of cereal with sliced bananas and a glass of juice if you are rushed for time. This takes about five minutes and keeps you from stopping for that greasy muffin thing with deep fried potatoes from you know where. You know the one that's still in your stomach and halfway up your throat two hours later?

Try packing a lunch when you head for the office. Put in a variety of foods so your nutrients are balanced. Instead of a pastry, put in a piece of fresh fruit or a handful of berries. In place of chips, maybe a pickle. Pickles are crunchy and salty but have very few calories. Don't deprive yourself as this leads to binge eating. Put in a small treat occasionally. Think of all the time you will save trying to decide where to go and what to have for lunch.

Take a walk in the park with co-workers. If you miss the companionship of having lunch with co-workers try getting a group together to take your lunches to a nice park. If you are lucky enough to have an hour lunch try spending a half hour eating and the other half hour on a nice walk. You'll feel so much more refreshed after some time outdoors.

When it comes to dinner, eat as early as possible. Give those calories time to burn off. Watch your portion sizes but allow yourself a few indulgences again. Don't ever deprive yourself of your favorite foods, just eat smaller quantities of them. If you feel the need for a snack later use the same principle. Eat slowly and you won't notice the smaller portions as much.

Instead of watching television after dinner, go for another walk. Take a Frisbee to the park. Invite friends over to socialize. Laughter burns calories too. Stop watching other people live their lives. Start living your own. Get out there and have a little fun.

Get a hobby. Do what suits your personality. The busier you are at having fun, the less you will think about eating. We aren't all athletic but try to involve some exercise in your hobby. The idea is to burn off as many calories as you consume. If you enjoy playing cards walk over to the neighbors instead of driving. Just squeeze a little activity in wherever you go and soon you will be feeling much better about yourself.

Let's talk about nutrition. You can be thin and not healthy. Be sure the foods you are eating are nutrient dense. Avoid large amounts of salt, fat, and sugar. Fruits and vegetables are always a good bet. They're low in calories and nutrient dense. Include whole grains, nuts and legumes in your diet. Watch your portions. A serving is about two ounces or the size of your fist.

Remember to keep your mind healthy too. Rid yourself of negative thinking. Surround yourself with people who bring you up not down. If you have a problem with someone, talk to them. Don't let it fester. Get it out in the open and work on it. Venting to someone else may feel good but gossip is harmful to both parties. Take time in your life to relax.

Make life simple and you'll be at peace. Avoid the strive for perfection. Just strive to be yourself.

This article was previously published on Yahoo! Voices