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Hack Your Way to Health

By Mikkie Mills

The road to health can be steep and discouraging, especially when you have a long history of failing to stick to diets and exercise routines. Have you ever wondered if the path could be made easier? What if there was a way to bypass hurdles, cheat they system, or hack your way to health?

Strengthen Your Body and Your Resolve

How do fitness gurus, bodybuilders, and sports players stay motivated? Diane Klein, Ph.D., shed some light on the subject with her study of long-term exercisers who had been working out for an average of 13 years. The participants were asked to rank what motivated them to keep up with their regimes from most important to least important. Their answers were: fitness (most important), feelings of well-being, pep and energy, enjoyment of the exercise, making exercise a priority, sleeping better, feeling alert, being relaxed, weight management, and appearance (least important).

Exercise is tough--that’s kind of the point. However, it may not need to be as difficult as you’re making it. For easier exercise routines, do the following: choose activities you enjoy, employ a routine that works out the whole body, find a workout partner or group, stop if you feel genuine pain, push yourself but don’t go beyond your limits, give yourself achievable goals, exercise even when you’re not feeling like doing it, be aware of any ways exercise makes you feel better, and be sure to give yourself small rewards when you make noticeable progress. When exercising, it is also crucial to use good form and proper equipment to prevent injury and reap full benefit from your routine. Be sure to wear the right shoes, gear, and equipment, drink lots of water, learn the right workout techniques, and warm up with stretching.

Music and Exercise

You can also plug in your favorite tunes to make your workout easier. In a 2015 study from McMaster University in Canada, researchers had people perform high-intensity interval workouts while listening to music. Participants claimed they did not feel their workout getting any harder when they were also listening to their favorite songs. Another Northwestern University study showed strong evidence that heavy bass creates feelings of power and control.

Keep Your Eyes on the Goal

If you walk, run, or jog, try to keep your eyes straight ahead. One 2014 Study conducted by New York University examined the behaviors of people walking a simple course from start to finish. Researchers found that when questioned, people who looked straight ahead estimated that the finish line was twenty-eight percent closer than those who let their eyes wander. They also walked twenty-three percent faster and said the workout felt easier. A 2015 study published by Bangor University in the U.K. shows compelling evidence that a warm bath after each workout makes subsequent workouts, especially in the heat, feel easier.

Shopping on a Budget

Whether you have a special diet, are gluten-free, vegetarian or wanting to have a healthy vegan grocery list on a budget, you know well that a simple grocery list can quickly drain your money reserves. Regardless of your commitment to health, high prices can lower your motivation and cause you to turn to canned food and boxed meals.

To ensure that your healthy diet doesn’t break the bank, only purchase what you know you're going to use so you don't end up throwing away a lot of what you buy. To be especially frugal, check your pantry for foods you already own that can be incorporated into meals. Reach deep into your cupboards and check the back of the fridge to make sure no forgotten items are hiding from you.

While you’re at the store, don’t allow yourself to drop any tasty treats into your cart that aren’t on your list. Take food from top or bottom shelves rather than the center ones. The most expensive items are usually placed at eye level.

Eating out is often much more expensive than cooking at home. Generally, you can feed an entire family of four for the same price as buying food for one or two people at a restaurant. And, given enough experience with cooking at home, you may even come to prefer your own cooking over the expensive, impersonal and often unhealthy food at restaurants.

Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Hungry people tend to subconsciously fill their shopping carts with more food than they really need, whereas satiated people don’t feel as compelled to reach for those extra few items that look really tasty.

Shop the perimeter of the store for whole foods. Whole foods tend to be less expensive than their processed counterparts. For example, a block of cheese is cheaper than shredded cheese, canned beans are cheaper than refried beans, and whole grain foods are cheaper than processed cereals. Whole foods are also often sold in larger quantities for less.

Finally, know that even if eating healthy is sometimes more expensive than giving in to cheaper junk food, bad health comes with its own cost in the form of medical bills, body pain, drugs, and reduced ability to function in everyday life.

About Mikkie Mills: “I’m a Chicago native who loves to share her expertise about personal development and growth. When I’m not writing, I’m chasing the little ones around or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.” More articles by Mikkie.

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