Help me feel healthy in a hurry
May 10, 2006 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I have had a pretty unhealthy lifestyle for several years - too much alcohol and coffee, not enough sleep and exercise and its all catching up with me - I feel old and knackered. I know long term changes are needed but I'm also looking for some quick fixes to get me motivated. Any tips for quick and easy changes that will have a big impact?
posted by janecr to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Write a list of all the things you think are causing you to feel old and knackered, and stop doing those things. You'll see results immediately!
posted by nitsuj at 1:54 PM on May 10, 2006

Daily walks.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:58 PM on May 10, 2006

Eat more fruit. Drink more water. Makes me feel great- if I stop for a few days, I feel worse.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:00 PM on May 10, 2006 [2 favorites]

Drink a pint of water first thing every morning, and perhaps find a daily multivitamin.
posted by tumble at 2:03 PM on May 10, 2006

Just cut out the booze and everything else will fall into place.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 2:08 PM on May 10, 2006

I second the water and vitamin advice. Especially the water.

A quick story. My dad's friend who always worked out and kept himself in good shape started feeling tired and rundown. He figured he was just getting old, but when he went to the doctor, he was told he was dehydrated. Most of us are in a perpetual state of partial dehydration.
posted by zgott300 at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2006

Do you really want to change your lifestyle? If you really do, then tell everybody that you are doing it. It's easy to forego the calories, caffeine and alcohol for a few days, weeks or perhaps even months. Eventually, though, you will be tempted, and you will yield. If you haven't told others then it is just you versus your willpower. Tough battle there. If you are also putting your reputation on the line, remember everybody thinks you are a changed person, you will find added incentive and strength to stay your course. Your friends will help you along because they want you to succeed. Well, old drinking buddies might not. Big changes in lifestyle are tough on your own. Enlist friends and family to provide moral support and a boost when you are feeling weak.
posted by caddis at 2:15 PM on May 10, 2006

your first step was to decide to change your life. congratulations. your next step is to go see your primary care physician. he/she can make suggestions based on your specific situation and concerns. be careful about advice people give you! if you google 'healthy lifestyle' or such, you will get a lot of spam. without a physical check up its hard to give people advice. your doctor can measure your blood pressure, weight, etc and put you on the right course. he/she should be the one giving you advice about what to do to see quick results and get motivated. he can also suggest a nutritionist. here's my 2c: wean yourself off the alcohol and coffee slowly. i like Dr. Weil. i have a good cookbook of his. tips from the red cross is a good place to start, they list generalized advice. everyone else has posted good advice here too, we all wish you the very best on your new path in life.
posted by saragoodman3 at 2:20 PM on May 10, 2006

Mark Twain suggested that we not neglect our vices! You have done admirably, and like a ship with ballast, you now have many things to throw overboard to improve things.

Two weeks to better feelings....

Go to bed and get up at regular times.

Eat breakfast.

Break routines that put you in places where you damage yourself.

Exercise for 30 minutes a day for two weeks, then 30 every other day from then on.

Drastically reduce drinking, but not necessarily caffeine. Alcohol hurts, but coffee is a vice with benefits. You'll enjoy it more if you cut back a little, though.

Make peace with an enemy or two. Give your spirit a break and right an old wrong.

Love your friends and tell them. Build community and support.

Ask yourself if you died unexpectedly in the next two weeks, would this be the way you want to go? Weak, worn out, old before your time, slave to your wants?

Imagine being better, be better, act better, do better. Do it for you, do it from now on.

And don't worry or regret, just move forward. Good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 2:28 PM on May 10, 2006 [2 favorites]

Obviousfilter: Getting an extra few hours of sleep every night and making sure you don't skip breakfast, can make a noticeable difference very quickly.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:29 PM on May 10, 2006

caddis' method only works if you have sufficient integrity, however. Else it's easy to lie, and then indulge in your nasty habits only in private. In my case I found I could do it for myself, by myself, once I was ready (quitting smoking is what I'm referring to here).
posted by Rash at 2:32 PM on May 10, 2006

Yep. Water. Drink water - a glass before and after every meal. Simple.

Deal with getting good sleep next. Try to only have caffeine in the early AM. Or on weekends. Then your next step is stop drinking Soda Pop (if you do) except maybe on weekends. Go to bed about the same time every night. Only use your bedroom for sleeping or sex. Don't watch TV in bed. You will begin to sleep better. This, more than anything, will make you feel energized.

As for exercise, it doesn't take that much to get results. Walk more during the week. Do long morning walks on weekends - nothing excruciating.

When you feel better rested add a weekday morning exercise ritual. Like stretching every morning for 10-20 minutes (get a yoga video). If that works out add one day 10 push ups and 10 sit ups and the next 10 free squats.

The results will be visible quickly.
posted by tkchrist at 2:41 PM on May 10, 2006

8 Weeks to Optimum Health has advice that will have you feeling noticably better after week 1.
posted by rocket88 at 2:45 PM on May 10, 2006

janecr, I'm doing the same thing you are right now. One of the things I've found really helps is sticking to a positive routine.

For instance: I get up at 6 or 6:30 every morning, even if I don't have to be at work until noon. I write for a bit (usually for my internerd blog, but whatever) as I have some tea and yogurt then take a shower, take a vitamin and then leave the house and go somewhere public, like a coffeeshop to read or write some more or whatever. Just breaking myself from my regular slack routine and embracing the idea of being out has done wonders. Not everyone has a local coffee place to go to, but walking has double benefits and it lets you listen to the records you bought a while back.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 2:45 PM on May 10, 2006

Ah, you'll feel miles better in just five days if you just stop eating all sugar. It'll be awful for three days, and then suddenly you'll have so much energy and you'll magically start shedding pounds. And you can keep having a pop, as long as you stick to wine or hard stuff - no more beer.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:08 PM on May 10, 2006

I've found the quickest fix to make me feel better has been exercise. Long walks are good for non-strenuous exercise if that's your thing, but I preferred something a little more intense, so I took up a Filipino kenpo class. Gets me in touch with my body, helps me make healthier choices, the endorphins make me feel good, it gets me out of the house and it wears me out so I sleep at night. Plus, it's super-fun. You might want to look into something similar-- a sport rather than just walks, for instance.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:44 PM on May 10, 2006

Everyone has their own magic recipe, it seems. Give up this, give up that... twaddle. Don't give up anything you enjoy. Just moderate the things you think are causing a problem and do more of what you're leaving undone - particularly exercise. That speeds up your metabolism and shifts whatever shit you decide to hit it with more efficiently.

By the way, people who tell you to totally give up booze are probably alcoholics and boy, would they love you to join them in their new righteous bliss. Ignore them; they're almost as annoying as Jehova's Witnesses. Unless you think you might be an alcoholic too, of course....
posted by Decani at 3:46 PM on May 10, 2006 [2 favorites]

Detox for 2-3 days by cutting out trans fats, excessive salt, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol and dairy. Double up on raw or steamed veggies. Whole grains instead of white grain.

I second (Or third or fourth) the water. Key to flushing out your system.
posted by delladlux at 4:18 PM on May 10, 2006

I've been faithfully drinking 4 glasses of water per day. I suggest chugging a pint before every meal and one right before you go to bed. That last one before you go to sleep will make sure you don't oversleep. You can't snooze your bladder!
posted by any major dude at 5:25 PM on May 10, 2006

Oh man, have I been where you are. I'm not exactly a paragon of healthyness, but I've lost 15 lbs of my high weight, and lowered my blood pressure.

One other thing that makes me feel great is a shiatsu massage when I am feeling low. It doesn't feel good in a conventional sense, but it sorts out your posture and relaxes you. They tell you not to wait too long between treatments, but I could never afford a weekly or even monthly treat. A good massage makes me feel better for weeks. I get one about every month and a half, when I am feeling grumpy and out of sorts

Andrew Weil's book has some good advice, but go easier on the vitamins. He recommends a criminal amount of vitamin E. If you do take vitamins, clear them with your GP. Cheap vitamin c is useless, and can ruin your digestion.

Also viscous fibres like oatmeal, eggplant and okra are amazingly beneficial for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

I also try not to deny myself things, rather I try to make myself eat a quota of healthy things, say a certain amount of veggies per day/ week, a certain number of meatless meals. My doctor encourages me to have one unhealthy guilt free meal a week, just to get my craving out of my system. THis seems to work for me. I can control my cravings if I know I can have a small serving of my favourite gourmet treats once a week.

Good luck. You don't have to be complete converted to feel better and healthier.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:02 PM on May 10, 2006

keep a journal, make peace with an old enemy/friend/issue.
Check other threads at this site and elsewhere for healthy eating, exercise tips.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:33 PM on May 10, 2006

Me, I have no desire nor intention to give up caffeine (daily) or alcohol (once a week these days), but I've found in the couple of years since I've started vigorous exercise for 90 minutes three times a week, that I feel better than I have in decades, and more exercise makes me feel like doing more, usually. The endorphin rush is great, too. I'm 40, for what it's worth, and have been knocking the living shit out of my body since I was a teenager.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:57 AM on May 11, 2006

It's tough at first, but if you can switch from coffee to green tea, it'll make a huge difference. I'm a big fan of the Moroccan mint green tea from the stash company.
posted by dobie at 7:21 AM on May 11, 2006

No need for complex diets or busting a gut at the gym - just buy a bike.

Saves money and the environment too!
posted by Blip at 8:21 AM on May 11, 2006

Caddis - That report says FDA Rejects Green Tea Heart Claim, not Health claims. Green tea is better for you than coffee because it has less caffeine, and it has lots of antioxidants.

I'm skeptical of claims that drinking more water will make you feel better, as long as you drink when you are thirsty you should be fine. See here

Meditating for at least 10 minutes a day makes me feel much calmer and positive.
posted by afu at 8:39 AM on May 11, 2006

That report says FDA Rejects Green Tea Heart Claim, not Health claims. Green tea is better for you than coffee because it has less caffeine, and it has lots of antioxidants.

The headline says heart claims, but if you read the article you will see that they rejected heart claims this time, and cancer claims last time. These are the two health claims most often touted for green tea. The evidence so far is insufficient to make a health claim on a product label. Green tea may or may not be beneficial, but I think it is still too early to claim definitively that it has health benefits. It tastes good though. Also, coffee has antioxidants too. I agree on the caffeine part, but then it is hardly a substitute, no?
posted by caddis at 9:09 AM on May 11, 2006

i suggest for a start cutting back on alcohol and looking into some sort of hobby that interests you and includes exercise.. the company sports team, martial arts, yoga, hiking.. im not sure at all what would be good for you, but if you do something that you enjoy you will find it easier to spark motivation.

noone is ever too old to try something new.

also with coffee.. start drinking your coffee with half caffeine for a start, your body wont freak out but it will start to adjust to the difference so that you can move forward.
posted by trishthedish at 2:06 PM on May 11, 2006

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