SUCCESS Reader: My days are jam packed. Between work, family and social obligations, I find it hard to relax when it comes time to sleep and let the day slip away. I get fewer hours of sleep and feel tired the next day. Now repeat that six days a week. Help!
Dr. Mehmet Oz: Well first, you need to make sleep a priority. During sleep, your body restores the growth hormone that is necessary for vitality. With an adequate amount of sleep, you actually improve your health. You will lose weight, as your appetite will diminish, as will your chances for viral infections, heart disease and strokes.
Set yourself up with a sleep plan. Make your bed a sanctuary. Try to avoid doing anything in bed other than sleeping. Turn the temperature down a few degrees and lower the bedroom lights 30 minutes before sleeping. Of course, don’t eat any chocolate or drink coffee, as these are stimulants and will awaken the body. If all else fails, don’t force yourself to sleep. If after 15 minutes you are not asleep, do something low impact such as read a book or yoga. No lights necessary. You just need that extra nudge to nighttime bliss.
ON THE GO
Q: My family life is hectic. Between soccer practice and ballet, we hardly have time to sit down and eat. How can we eat healthy “on the road”?
A: My personal food adage, “Eat food that comes out of the ground looking the way it does when you eat it.” Eat broccoli and carrots with fat-free dressing. Thankfully, eating healthy is a growing trend in fast-food restaurants. Also, be strategic about where you eat; how many grams of fat, sodium and protein the foods contain. Make family dinner a requirement at least three days a week. There are numerous websites and books devoted to healthy cooking for the on-the-go parent. I urge you to check these out and increase not only your family health, but your family attitude as well.
Q: I want to work out, but I am exhausted after work. How can I incorporate more exercise into my everyday life?
A: Simple, just take your normal actions in life and maximize them. Park the very furthest from your building and walk. Instead of using the elevator or escalator, walk the stairs. Wake up 20 minutes earlier each morning and walk briskly for 15 minutes. During commercial breaks, do sit-ups, push-ups and lunges. In the process, slowly carve out time in your schedule for a high-intensity workout five times week.
Q: I am highly ambitious. But, with my ambition comes major stress. How can I better manage my stress?
A: You need a game plan for your stress. Humans are designed to have stress to evolve. You can learn to cope with your stress by learning to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. First, lay the foundation by preparing your body with adequate exercise and a healthy diet. There’s no way you can effectively handle stress with a diet of french fries and cheeseburgers. Next, help your body with a daily dose of vitamin C, which allows the body to regulate the stress hormone cortisol. When you feel overwhelmed by stress, drink black tea, which contains the natural relaxant of flavonoids, eat a few pistachios and treat yourself to a forehead and ear massage for at least five minutes of relaxation to mentally regroup.
Also, make sure to keep track of your weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure to ensure the amount of stress in your life is not negatively affecting your body.
Above all else LAUGH! That’s the biggest opponent of stress.
Q: How can I instill a sense of healthy nutrition in my children? How can I start providing a stable foundation of good nutrition for my children?
A: Your children are a reflection of you. Parents are rock stars to their kids; they emulate you. Also, they eat what you eat. Hey, they can’t cook for themselves! So the best way to instill a sense of healthy nutrition in them is to be healthy yourself.