As all real estate brokers know, a fresh coat of paint will make any property look good. Whether your home is a row house in Baltimore, a Paris atelier, or even a Winnebago, a new coat of paint will bring a shine to the interior and put a smile on the faces of both residents and guests. You may find that a similar smile will appear on your face and the faces of your friends and family members when you engage in activities that provide you with a metaphorical fresh coat of paint. Specifically, you’ll obtain your “new look” by incorporating a healthy diet and regular, vigorous exercise in your daily routine.1,2
But what exactly is “a healthy diet,” and what is meant by “regular, vigorous exercise”? A healthy diet consists of a daily practice of consuming food from all five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Importantly, a healthy diet includes at least five daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Overall, the more colors on your plate, the better. If you’re consistently eating yellow, green, red, blue, orange, and purple foods such as squash, corn, grapefruit, kale, broccoli, apples, peppers, blueberries, carrots, oranges, potatoes, and eggplant, you’re well on your way toward a lifelong healthy diet.
The grains food group contains whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, and barley. For those who require gluten-free whole grains, the numerous choices include amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, and teff. The protein food group includes beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, fish, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds. There are plenty of protein sources for vegetarians and others who don’t eat meat or other foods derived from animals such as eggs and milk. The dairy group is included to provide sources of calcium.3 These foods include low-fat and fat-free choices such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. If you’re a vegetarian or have allergies to dairy products, other sources of calcium include kale, collard greens, spinach, salmon, sardines, blackstrap molasses, and beans. For men and women aged 19 to 50, the recommended daily requirement for calcium is 1000mg. For women over age 50 and men over age 70, the recommended daily requirement for calcium is 1200mg.
Regular, vigorous exercise means doing at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Walking, running, bike riding, swimming, using an elliptical machine or treadmill, and weight training are all good choices. Lifting weights three times a week and doing some form of aerobic exercise two times a week is one example of such a program of vigorous daily exercise. For some people, walking five days a week for at least 30 minutes each day represents an optimal program. Find out what works best for you and do that consistently. Change your program every few months to keep both your mind and body challenged. Again, the specific form of exercise is not critical. What works for one person will not work for another. The key is consistency. Five days a week, at least 30 minutes a day.
Your fresh coat of paint is not merely metaphorical. Once your new lifestyle changes take effect, probably within three to six weeks, you’ll begin to develop an inner glow and an outer glow that will be visible for all to see.
1King DE, et al: Impact of healthy lifestyle on mortality in people with normal blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and C-reactive protein. Eur J Prev Cardiol 20(1):73-79, 2013
2Lopresti AL, et al: A review of lifestyle factors that contribute to important pathways associated with major depression: diet, sleep and exercise. J Affect Disord 148(1):12-27, 2013
3Nachtigall MJ, et al: Osteoporosis risk factors and early lifestyle modifications to decrease disease burden in women. Clin Obstet Gynecol 56(4):650-653, 2013