Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

6 Easy Ways To Get Healthier That Have Nothing To Do With Exercise

When it comes to getting healthy, it’s not all about working up a sweat. In fact, there are tons of practical and beneficial habits you can work into your day-to-day that have nothing to do with hitting the gym or making rounds on the ClassPass circuit.

Some of these lifestyle adjustments involve eating more mindfully, which includes techniques like slowing down as you eat and paying attention to signals that let you know when you’re full. But getting enough sleep, reducing stress and cutting back on alcohol are all important too.

“Our environment, our habits and our mindset are almost just as important as what it is we are putting in our mouths. And we have to realize that,” said Lisa Young, a registered dietitian and adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University.

Here are some tips for boosting your health that have nothing to do with burning calories, but are almost guaranteed to leave you feeling better:

1. Slow down at meal time.

These days, everything we do ― eating included ― tends to happen at hyper speed. And it’s simply not good for your health. Nutritionists advise slowing down and chewing each bite of food somewhere between 20 and 30 times, which makes it easier to digest and absorb. In fact, the more you break down the food in your mouth, the more you’re going to absorb in the intestine, said Kelly Johnston, a registered dietitian and health coach at Parsley Health.

For the sake of digestion, try setting aside a bit more time so you can eat your meals in a less hasty way, even if it’s not 20 to 30 chews per bite of food.

“I always say the first line of digestion is your mouth, and chewing is such an important part of that,” Johnston said. “The less work you do in your mouth, the more work you have to do in your stomach and intestine, which can cause bloating downstream, constipation and just more work for the intestine.”

Eating at a slower pace also gives you more time to register fullness, which can lower your chances of overeating.

“Challenge yourself to take at least 15 to 20 minutes to finish a meal, because that is how long it takes for your gut to tell your brain it’s full,” said Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietitian in New York City.

2. Limit your distractions while eating.

Despite the fact that more than half of Americans eat lunch at their desks each day, nutritionists say this isn’t the best choice for your health. For one, the body has trouble prioritizing digestion when you’re stressed.

“The uptick of the stress hormone cortisol may cause nutrients to become poorly digested and disrupt the normal digestion process,” Beckerman said.

We get it though: Sometimes you have no option other than to work through lunch. In these situations, Young suggested planning exactly what you’re going to eat. This can help you avoid overeating, which seems to happen way too easily when you’re focused on your screen rather than the food you’re putting in your mouth.

“The problem when you eat mindlessly is that you don’t even realize that you’ve eaten,” Young said.

3. Eat whole rather than processed foods.

Ultra-processed foods are often high in sodium and added sugars and come with long lists of ingredients, many of which do little in terms of benefiting your overall health. Making a real effort to swap processed for whole foods is a great way to get healthier. Consider focusing on foods that exist in nature like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and high-quality proteins like beans, fish and meat.

Processed foods have fillers, stabilizers and thickeners that can disrupt your body’s ability to soak in essential vitamins and nutrients from real foods,” Beckerman said. “You’ll be able to deliver and maximize the purest forms of nutrients to your body when you can eat whole foods.”

4. Get enough sleep.

When you’re trying to squeeze in time for everything possible in life ― work, social commitments, family, exercise, cooking healthy meals and more ― maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is often pushed aside. But getting enough sleep probably deserves a higher spot on your list of priorities. After all, this is the time of day where your body relaxes and repairs.

The exact amount of sleep varies from person to person, but somewhere around seven to eight hours a night is a good target, Johnston said. You surely know this from experience, but when you don’t get enough sleep, your body struggles the next day.

“Research shows that if you don’t get enough sleep, you automatically usually have an elevated blood sugar the following day because you haven’t metabolized well,” Johnston said.

Meanwhile, sleep deprivation disrupts the balance of the body’s hunger and satiety hormones, which can lead you toward that bottomless-pit feeling where you eat and eat but don’t feel full, Beckerman explained. Not getting enough sleep also leads to low levels of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate the body’s energy balance by inhibiting hunger. The result? Increased cravings of sugary and sweet foods, Beckerman said.

5. Find a way to let go of stress.

Some stress is good for you, especially the type that appears when you’re excited. But chronic stress, the kind that feels inescapable, can have a ton of negative effects on the body, from depression and anxiety to gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular disease. For the sake of your health, it’s important to find a stress-relieving habit you can turn to regularly to balance the daily demands that drain you.

For some, this release can have to do with exercise, like going for a walk or going to a yoga class. For others, it might mean journaling, meditating or talking to a close friend. Really, the method is up to you as long as you take some time to yourself to let some of the stress fade away.

“Just recharging your battery is so important,” Johnston said.

6. Cut back on alcohol.

Besides contributing to those dreaded hangovers, drinking more than the recommended amount (up to one drink a day for women and two for men) can increase your risk of cancer and high blood pressure, as well as contribute to poor sleep, overeating, impaired cognitive function even after the alcohol leaves your system and earlier signs of aging, like wrinkles and broken blood vessels.
Many types of alcohol are also super sugary, which can lead to weight gain and problems with blood sugar levels. Additionally, alcohol and sugar can both negatively impact “the health of our gut and our microbiome,” Johnston said.

Alcohol also impairs the efficacy of the hormone leptin, which as mentioned earlier, plays a role in keeping you full.

“This imbalance influences our powerful brains towards convincing us that we want more carbohydrate heavy and greasy meals,” Beckerman said. So, while there’s usually nothing wrong with a drink here and there, it’s best to keep it to a minimum.

By Beth Krietsch,   10/25/2018   HuffPost US
Advertisements


3 Comments

How to Manage Your Motivation to Live a Healthier Life

How motivated are you to live a healthy life?

Perhaps there’s no single thing you can do more to prevent chronic disease than to actively engage in healthy lifestyle choices. World Health Organization research suggests that in the Western world chronic disease killers such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes could be greatly reduced by making better lifestyle choices. In fact, healthy lifestyle choices could eliminate 80 per cent of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes cases.

Most adults in North America know that risk factors, such as smoking and drinking to excess, and engaging in pro-health behaviours like exercise, diet and sleep, collectively impact their health. Even with this life-and-death information many fail to act or stay motivated.

It’s a common human experience for people to one day decide to take better care of their health. The decision to do so can be influenced from outside or come from within. However, within a few days they get distracted by life and lose focus or stop trying.

Why? One reason could be health fatigue. This happens when the activity to get healthy feels difficult and requires too much energy or discipline. Employers should also keep in mind how they can help employees stay motivated once they decide to make a positive change, through various workplace programs.

Another reason many fail to maintain a healthy lifestyle is gaps in their motivation. To change this, you need to manage your motivation and home in on what will keep you on task and on target.

Motivation management

The microskill of motivation management is the discipline of staying in tune with your drive to achieve a defined outcome or goal. Different kinds of motivation, such as the stick (fear) and the carrot (positive opportunity) can spark a need for change. And sparks that can keep you focused and motivated can come from both external or internal sources.

Here are some tactics to help you improve your motivation to stay healthy and make healthy choices.

inner-strength

Awareness

Stop for a moment and focus on one area of your health you may like to improve. It can be helpful to write out exactly what you want to change and why, and then evaluate the driving force behind this motivation. Is your motivation to change linked to some fear or opportunity? Tapping into the motivation can spark the energy and discipline required to achieve your goal. It’s important to be specific as to what success is for you personally.

Test your current level of readiness for making this change by using this motivation for change quick survey.

Accountability

Define what sparks will ignite your motivation. One common spark is tuning in to the positive and negative consequences for your pursuit. External motivation can be helpful for some; for others, internal motivation is the most important, especially when they consider the effects on their family, self, relationships, quality and length of life, and job. Internal motivation can be linked to a purpose or a set of values. It’s common to use a combination of internal and external motivations to stay focused on a desired goal.

Action

One approach to motivation management is a game plan to stay focused on achieving your targeted outcome. Ultimately, motivation management is paying attention to the sparks that influence and encourage you. The end goal for health habits is that they become ingrained and automatic. However, since so many start and stop, there can be value in paying attention not only to what you are going to do or how, but also why.

  • Confirm in writing the target area to change. Be clear on the value to you and why you want to make this change.
  • Determine the specific success target. To avoid being vague, attach a number: “For me, success equals …”
  • Write out the specific steps you will take and the action required to achieve your goal: “I will …”
  • Decide if you will use any external consequences to motivate yourself. If you do, ensure that whatever you pick is something you enjoy and something you prefer not to do. For example, “When I achieve … I will treat myself to (reward: something you enjoy and can afford), if not, I will (consequence: do some household chore you don’t like for a week).” Sometimes people engage in peer challenges for motivation.
  • Decide what internal motivation can spark you – perhaps being able to play with your children or see your grandchildren. Ultimately, to achieve long-term health, the more you can tap into internal motivation, the higher the probability you will achieve it.
  • To manage your motivation, it’s helpful to track your daily progress. On-line resources like http://www.stickk.com and others can help you reach your goal.
Bill Howatt     The Globe and Mail    Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto. He is also the president of Howatt HR Consulting and founder of TalOp, in Kentville, N.S.

This is part of a series looking at microskills – changes that employees can make to help improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first.


2 Comments

Buddha’s Keys to Unlocking Change in your Life

By Luke Miller        Saturday April 9th, 2016

There are no guarantees
the life we are living today
will be the same tomorrow

There are very few certainties in life but one thing that will remain consistent through your life is, you will continually have challenges and problems to overcome and while these challenges will differ from person to person, the solution for any problems can be broken down into 7 key areas for development.

In a sacred text called the Sabbāsava Sutta the Buddha outlines these 7 areas; my interpretation of this text is below. The original text is available to read here in Pāḷi and English.

1. Knowledge/Insight

We currently live in an age of information, and while this stockpile of knowledge can at times be overwhelming it is very useful for overcoming challenges in your life.

When you have a challenge there is always a solution out there, it’s your job to gather the info, syphon the good from the bad and work out a plan for getting there.

It’s not always easy; in fact it’s usually very difficult and depending on the problem you are facing could take some real trial and error.

But if you are determined to overcome a problem you are facing there will always be a solution out there, you just have to find it!

2. Resistance/Replacement

When you are making a transition in life there will be times when you will have to call on your resistance to temptation.

If you are starting a new exercise regime, trying to overcome procrastination or trying to get rid of an addiction of any type, there will be times when you will have to resist the temptation to fall back into bad habits. But while this is very important it is really only part of the solution.

To give up a bad habit using resistance alone would be very difficult, so when you are trying to change a bad routine you will find it easier if you consciously replace it with a more productive one.

If you stop smoking, you could start painting. If you stop eating junk food, you could start eating health food. Or if you are going to stop hanging out in nightclubs and getting drunk, you could start going to yoga and drinking raw juice.

It’s very important that you consciously look for a healthy, sustainable replacement to bad habits, because if you don’t you may end up with a worse habit in its place.

3. Consumption

Consumption works both ways; you could be over consuming or under consuming.

You could be eating too much or not enough. You could be not drinking enough water or be drinking too much fizzy drinks. You could be buying too much stuff that you don’t need or you could be depriving yourself from the things that you do need.

However it is in your case, consuming more or less of certain things will help you overcome some of life’s challenges.

This lesson really goes hand in hand with knowledge as when you learn more about your need’s as a human being you get more of an understanding of what you need to consume more or less of.

A prime example of this is medicine and when I say medicine I am not just talking about pills, I am also talking about plants, herbs and food medicines.

A lot of us are taking pills for problems that we can overcome naturally and because of these pills we are starting treatment with one problem and the side effects of these medicines are leaving us with more problems all of which need different pills to overcome them.

This is the vicious circle of symptom based treatment and not looking at health as a whole.

Most illness, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical can be overcome naturally. So try your best to find out how you can use nature to overcome your problems before consuming toxic and dangerous medicines.

Consumption also works for the mind to, your thoughts become things. So if you are stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts you may want to try to replace them with something a little more positive.

patience

4. Patience/Persistence

You cannot always have what you want, when you want it! This is not a bad thing; just imagine everything you set out to do was completed straight away. You would have nothing to aim for, no goals and no reason to wake up in the morning.

If you have something big that you want in your life you will have to be patient and you will also need to be persistent.

If you have something big that you want in your life you will have to be patient.
If you work every day towards a goal and that goal is something that you have some control over then the only thing that can stand between you and your goal is time!

One thing to remember here is to try and enjoy the journey, if you think a certain goal will bring you happiness and you struggle to find anything to be grateful for on the way chances are when you finally get there you will still not feel satisfied.

Celebrate every small victory on route to your big goals, be patient and persistent and you will get there in the end!

5. Avoidance

Some things in your life will be out of your control, certain people and places will leave a negative impact on you. Sometimes it will not be possible to just walk away from these things, but you can do your best to avoid them.

If someone at work acts negatively and always leaves you feeling down avoid them. If you are making dietary changes and your friends are going to a fast food restaurant don’t go. If your partner happens to love Housewives Of New Jersey and you don’t, go read a book when they are watching it!

Some things in life will need to be confronted, but sometimes the best way to deal with a problem is to just avoid or ignore it.

6. Removal

There will be times in your life when avoiding a problem is just not viable. Sometimes in life you have to make tough decisions, but usually the tough decisions result in the biggest impact.

Sometimes friendships and relationships end. Sometimes a career is having such a negative impact on your life that you will have to leave. Sometimes you have to stop relying on will power to help you through your diet and throw out them chocolate chip cookies.

Your life is your responsibility and when certain things have a constant negative impact on you, you will have to make a decision – am I going to accept this or remove it and move on.

This can be one of the hardest things a person can do, but when you take note of things, people and places that impact your life in a bad way and do your best to remove them, your life will change for the better.

7. Lifestyle

The first step for lifestyle is finding out what lifestyle you really want, a lot of people go into adulthood without knowing what they want or what they stand for.

Lifestyle will affect your health, wealth and relationships so it’s important if you want to lead a fulfilling life that you know what you want and build a lifestyle around that.

Lifestyle is really a combination of the knowledge you acquire, the daily habits you partake in and what you deem to be acceptable on your journey.

It’s very important that you set strict boundaries in some areas of your life to make sure your life is the one you want to be living.

Let’s face it we all have the same amount of time in the day, yet some people can barely manage to get on top of household chores, While others can run a Fortune 500 company and still find the time to meditate, go to the gym and hang out with friends and family in the evening.

It’s very much about viewing your life and seeing what is productive and empowering you and what is negative and disempowering you. Then doing more of the positive and less of the negative!


6 Comments

How the 80/20 Rule Can Help Improve Your Health and Life

Chris Freytag      03/14/2015       National fitness expert, speaker, contributor to Prevention magazine, author of several books and fitness DVDs

Okay, short history lesson – don’t let your eyes glaze over. Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s also called the law of the vital few and was originally called The Pareto Principle. It started way back in the early 1900s when Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the people. Am I making you feel like you are back in school? Stay with me!

Soon people saw how this rule played out in business. More often than not, 20 percent of your customers lead to most, or 80 percent, of your sales. Today the 80/20 rule has all sorts of cool interpretations.

To use the 80/20 rule for business, you focus on the 20 percent of your best customers who are giving you 80 percent of your sales.

To use the 80/20 rule to manage your time, you focus on the 20 percent of the things you do that really move the dial for you or your business. In other words, your highest-valued activities.

Here’s the kicker! When it comes to your health, you gotta flip the 80/20 rule and focus on that 80 percent. You know you can achieve a healthy lifestyle when the majority of your choices are healthy. See? It’s not rocket science, but it can really change how you think. 80/20 is a universal rule, and it applies to everything. Spend the majority of your time making the right decisions, and you will love your results.

It’s not about circumstances, it’s about choices.

A healthy lifestyle is achieved by the sum total of all of your choices. Losing weight, getting healthier or becoming more fit is not a quick fix or a gimmick; it’s the culmination of your habits and your daily decisions. This rule is about moderation. Yes, you can have that dessert. No, you cannot have dessert every night. Yes, you should work out most days. No, you don’t have to beat yourself up if you skip a day.

Always strive to have most — at least 80 percent – of your choices be healthy.

You know what’s so great about this rule?

You can use it for eating.

You know it’s challenging to eat clean all the time. Work parties, BBQs, cookouts, pot-luck gatherings, cocktail parties, restaurant temptations, travel… all those things make clean eating a bit of a challenge. But if you can work toward eating clean the majority of the time (lots of real foods from the produce aisle!), you are going to see a difference in your body and in how you feel. (Hello, energy, there you are!) If you go for portion control moderation more often than not, you can effectively manage your weight!

You can use it for exercise.

Yes, it’s easy to fall out of your workout routine when you travel, or you have family in town, or a rerun of Real Housewives has you captivated to the TV, but get right back in the saddle and get back at it. Don’t let a break from your exercise routine become a break-up from exercise. Push toward that 80 percent. (P.S. Remember my two-day rule? I never go more than two days in a row without a workout. It’s my little game I play to keep consistent at least 80 percent of the time.)

Autumn Walk

 

It’s easy to remember.

When things are easy to remember, they are easy to do. Plus, you can easily turn this rule into a question to keep you on track: Are the majority of my choices today healthy? If they aren’t, start making some healthy decisions pronto. If they are, terrific! Better yet, put a Post-it note on your bathroom mirror to remind you each morning to make it an 80/20 day.

It’s a lifestyle rule, not a fad.

You know what I dislike about diets? People are either on or off diets. Diets come and go, and actually now people aren’t doing “diets,” they are doing “cleanses” — the same thing in many ways. The 80/20 rule is a lifestyle gauge. It isn’t a quick fix or a weird gimmick. You aren’t on it or off it. You just lean toward health. Each day try and get more of your choices to favor your health. Wake up tomorrow and try again. Take a nod from one of my favorite authors, Michael Pollen, who says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Bingo, easy to follow.

You don’t have to be perfect.

Okay, I had a green smoothie for breakfast, my FitBit says I’ve walked 10,000 steps and it’s only lunchtime, I ate a salad for lunch with lots of veggies… I think it’s okay to eat this afternoon cookie.

Or, I ate a big muffin for breakfast. I am going to hit the gym after work and I’ve been drinking lots of water today, but I think I will skip the birthday cake for my coworker.

See how it plays out? You just lean toward healthy the majority of the time.

You can be human.

One of the funniest things about being a fitness trainer and health coach is other people think I only eat foods from the produce aisle and I never have a bite of chocolate or a glass of red wine or (gasp!) sugar. Yes, I probably lean more toward 90/10 with my healthy habits, but I do allow myself some room to enjoy indulgences from time to time. (Did someone say ice cream?) Let the 80/20 rule give you permission to sometimes just enjoy the things you enjoy in moderation. Don’t serve yourself up a giant helping of guilt and remorse with that small dish of ice cream or that cone. It falls into your 20 percent and it’s OKAY. Breathe.

You can save time.

You don’t have to weigh your food, count calories or do anything else that takes up time you don’t have. Maybe tracking every morsel of food you eat just doesn’t jive with your lifestyle or what you like to do. While tracking what you eat can be extraordinarily helpful, you don’t have to do it if you use the 80/20 rule. You know when the majority of your decisions are healthy and when they aren’t. Work slowly toward getting more of your choices into the healthy camp! I always suggest getting familiar with what portion sizes look like and then get good at eyeballing them. Bottom line, another way to describe the 80/20 rule when it comes to food is portion control.

It works.

I guarantee if you exercise on most days and eat clean most of the time, it will work. You will be at the weight you want to be at and you will be healthier. The 80/20 rule is a doable, healthy lifestyle plan that you can enjoy!


2 Comments

10 “Rules” To Live By To Get Healthier

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, consistency is key. If you want to stop feeling lethargic and overweight, you have to stop being lazy. Sorry to be blunt. It’s all about creating a consistent lifestyle that promotes healthy eating and movement throughout the day!

I’m a personal trainer, but I am not always a perfect eater. I love pizza — I love bacon on my pizza. When I indulge, I make sure that two out of the three meals I eat that day are still healthy. On days that my body is sore and rundown, I still get up and move. Laying around only makes the soreness worse — get those muscles moving and get a good stretch or foam roll in.

I remind myself that even on my worst days, I can still walk. I can move. I don’t have to just sit around, I can strap on a backpack and walk around Nashville to grab a cup of coffee. Here are the other rules to follow to maintain a consistent, healthy lifestyle:

1. Get at least 10,000 steps every day.

This is the gold standard of consistency. It equals about five miles — here are some ways I make it happen every day:

  • Park far away
  • Use the stairs (want that strong booty, stairs are the best)
  • Walk the dog
  • Pack your lunch so that you can walk during at least half that break

2. Teach your body to be healthy by being consistent.

When you make being healthy a habit, your body know exactly what it’s in for and responds accordingly. If you’re able to stay away from sweets for an extended period, your body won’t crave them as much and when you do eat them, too much sugar will taste horrible! Try a piece of 80 percent dark chocolate for an after dinner treat and use gum to curb cravings.

3. Eat breakfast so that your body knows to be hungry.

Too many people have gotten used to not eating breakfast. It’s SO important! By eating it every day you actually will wake up hungry, and this is a good thing. That means your body is expecting the food and has started your metabolism already.

4. Sweat every day.

Our body’s cooling system is amazing. We shed all the heat by sweating. If you are a consistent trainer, your body knows what’s in store and will start cooling you down immediately. If your body isn’t used to working out, you will find yourself overheating due to your body’s idea of consistency — that you don’t need to sweat because you don’t work out. This will change over time!

5. Think long-term, not short-term.

Dieting provides short-sighted goals — 10-day juice cleanse, 3-day starvation, 30-days carb-free. What you really need is a consistent and fulfilling idea of eating clean and healthy that lasts a lifetime. Lower sugar, lower sodium, no starches in the evening and less booze (sorry).

483b0-walk160x144

6. Be active throughout the day.

One hour at the gym does not make an active lifestyle. Getting to the gym routinely is great and I commend everyone who does it. But saying, “That’s all folks,” for the rest of the day while you sit at a desk, car and couch does not make an active lifestyle. Consistency throughout the day will help you get and stay lean.

7. One workout does not make you strong and one day without weights does not ruin everything.

Consistency can be attained by sticking to your healthy lifestyle 80% of the time. Everyone needs a day to relax from the stress … just don’t let that make you feel guilty — enjoy your life!

8. One meal does not make you healthy and one meal does not make you fat.

When I ask about the meals my clients had the days before our workout together, I will always get a rundown of the healthiest options they chose. Yet they’ll also complain about why they aren’t losing weight. That one salad choice at lunch two days ago will not get you to your goal! Consistently choosing the better option will yield results and also increase your ability to refrain from temptation.

9. Drink water consistently throughout the day so you never feel thirsty.

If you don’t get enough water in your body before your workout, you won’t get as much out of your hard work. Blood brings oxygen to your muscles and brain. Blood is made up of quite a bit of water. If you are not hydrated, it is harder for you to get oxygen to where it needs to be.

The more you sweat, the more water you should drink. If you drink coffee or alcohol, you should also up your water intake.

10. Indulge on special occasions.

For me, this means eating pizza sparingly. Moderation within consistency is the biggest key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


1 Comment

Your Health Rests on These 4 Things

By John Mandrola, MD   June 15, 2015

You might think a cardiologist would spend his time with patients discussing technical things with complicated medical words. But in reality, I spend most of my time talking about the four legs of a table: the table of health.

I explain that their health is like a table. And just like a sturdy table, it has four equal and strong legs. If one is shorter or longer, the table wobbles, and eventually breaks.

Here are the four “legs” that keep our health steady:

1. Diet. My main piece of advice on food is to be mindful of it. Think. Getting heart patients to think about food is the first step. Recently, while I was examining the belly of an obese man, I asked “What is this?” I meant his huge abdomen. The wife said, “It’s cheese and crackers.” Okay, I thought, that’s progress. We talked about reducing empty calories; we discussed comfort eating. I asked him to think about cutting back on junk food. The next visit, he had lost weight. “I shouldn’t have been eating that much junk food,” he said.

When you start thinking about what you’re eating, healthier choices start to become normal. When you cut back on salt, for instance, it’s not long before salty restaurant meals, which you once enjoyed, don’t taste good to you anymore. It’s the same with sweetness and portion size.

2. Exercise. Study after study has demonstrated the benefits of regular exercise. Note that that I used the term “exercise”—not physical activity. Exercise is a sustained activity that makes you breathe hard and sweat. I’ve started writing EXERCISE on my whiteboard in the exam room or on a prescription pad. I tell my patients they need to consider exercise like a drug; take it every day.

Healthy-Lifestyle

As a lifelong exerciser and bike racer, I have learned some tricks about exercise. One is to choose exercise that you’ll stick with. Most middle-aged or older people aren’t going to sustain a Boot-camp-like regimen. Another thing I prescribe is to carve out a protected time in your day for exercise. That means exercise is not extra, say, if I have enough time, but rather, it is my time for health.

3. Sleep. When I ask my healthy patients how they sleep, they all tell me they maintain good sleep patterns. Pattern being the key word. Good sleepers keep a schedule. They plan. They go to bed at a set time and they don’t have media screens in the bedroom. Good sleepers consider sleep as a daily prescription for health. A great deal of research lately has tied sleep disorders, especially obstructive sleep apnea, to many common diseases, such as high blood pressure, depression and heart disease. More and more, before recommending cardiac procedures, I screen and refer patients for sleep disorders.

4. Attitude. Recently, a patient with a heart rhythm problem told me during his yearly checkup that his symptoms were gone. When I asked him what he had been doing differently, he said, “I decided to change my attitude.” I asked him what he meant. “I changed how I approach stress. I decided that being angry and worried was killing me. I cut back on my work; I took time for exercise and I forced myself to see more of the positive in things. It took about a month and my heart problem resolved itself.” Could it be that every angry blow-out is like putting another jellybean in the jar? Eventually the jar overflows.

I don’t mean to suggest achieving mental health and happiness is easy. But I am suggesting the brain-heart connection is important. We aren’t just treating a physical heart; we are treating a human heart. Although drugs and devices dominate the field of cardiology, I’d put generosity, kindness, grace, and love high up on the list of heart-healthy treatments.

Notice one common thread with each of these legs of the health table: Each of them require an action plan. Humans lucky enough to live in wealthy nations have easy access to an abundance of rich food, convenient transportation, and incessant distraction. We must have a plan to overcome these luxuries. Health, like the construction of a sturdy table, requires an action plan.


3 Comments

26 Ridiculously Easy Ways To Be Healthy

BY SADIE SALAZAR    JUNE 18, 2014

You want to be healthy, but sometimes it seems like being healthy is a constant uphill battle. But what if being healthy was as easy as ABC?

It can be with these easy steps:

Avoid processed foods and artificial sweeteners. Become familiar with the names of these ingredients (i.e. high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, etc.)

Breakfast. This is an important meal to eat every day. Focus on fueling your body with whole grains, proteins, and fruit.

Colorful foods. Think of your plate as a blank canvas. Nobody wants to stare at an all-yellow canvas. Try to make your meals as colorful as possible using a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Drink water. Your body needs water to function properly. Don’t drink your calories, drink water! If you don’t like plain water, try adding flavors using fresh fruit and veggies like strawberries, cucumbers, mint, etc.

Eat seasonally. By doing so, you’ll get the most nutrients from your food because it’s at its freshest point.

Farmer’s markets. Visit your local farmer’s market to make eating seasonally easy. Talk to the farmers and get to know the vendors.

Go outside. Get some natural Vitamin D. This will boost your energy and your immune system!

Hire a health coach. Not only can a healthy coach help you focus on your goals, but they’ll hold you accountable too!

Imagine your ideal self. Not necessarily your ideal weight, but your ideal self. How you want to conduct yourself, what’s important to you and how you’ll make that a focus, what your ideal self will feed your body for optimal health, etc.

Junk food cleanse. While I offer a junk food cleanse to my clients, you can do this on your own, too. Go through your cupboards and fridge, and either purge all the junk food OR make a pact with yourself that when it runs out, you will not buy more.

Keep a food journal. By keeping a journal of what you eat, you’ll be able to see patterns of overeating, stress eating, etc. This is also a way to hold you accountable when you make that choice to have a healthier diet!

Lean proteins. Focus on proteins like chicken breast, turkey, eggs, and raw nuts. These will be the most beneficial when it comes to fueling your body.

Meal plan. Plan your meals every week. Sit down for an hour or so each week and plan out your meals. This helps you stay on track and avoid having to come up with quick, possibly unhealthy meal options.

Nap when needed. Sometimes all that you need is a quick nap! This will give you a great boost of energy rather than reaching for an energy drink or more cups of coffee than you really need.

Omega-3s. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, combat depression and improve mood and memory. Try to focus on omega-3 fats from food rather than supplements. Excellent sources include salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax seeds, leafy greens and hemp seeds.

Pack your lunch. Often, when working in an office, it’s easy to make too many trips to the nearest fast food join. Pack your lunch to keep it healthy. I like salads loaded with fresh vegetables and lean protein. (Make your own dressing to keep it even more healthy.)

Quit making excuses. There are so many reasons why being healthy may not be convenient, but start listing the reasons that you want to be healthy! No more excuses.

Reduce stress. Reduce your level of stress by delegating, meditating, finding your happy place, and taking time for yourself!

Share Your Goals. By doing so, you make it so all the people you tell are going to hold you accountable!

Treat yourself (in moderation). Depriving yourself of things you love will work only for a short time. If you love chocolate, try to eat dark chocolate instead. Love cake? Look online for TONS of healthy versions of your favorite recipe.

Understand your cravings. Focus on what’s causing them. Many times you can offset your cravings with something healthy. For example, if you’re craving chocolate, you may be low on magnesium. Try eating nuts, seeds, fruits, or veggies to help this craving.

Vegan once a week. Try to go one day a week without eating animal proteins. (Also known as Meatless Monday.) It will force you to use some creativity at first, but after a month, it’ll be very easy to come up with meal ideas.

Whole food diet. Rather than trying the newest diet trend, focus on eating a whole food diet. This is a diet that includes lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

eXercise. (Yes, I cheated on this one!). Exercising for 150 minutes a week can be very beneficial for both your mind and body. Schedule your exercise in to your daily schedule to make sure you don’t skip it.

Yoga. If you’re stressed, yoga is a great way to relax. You’ll focus on breathing and keep your emotions in check!

ZZZZs. Get plenty of sleep! Try sleeping with the blinds open, rather than closed. When the sun starts to rise and shine into your room, your brain will slow down its melatonin production and start producing adrenaline. Once your body starts producing adrenaline, your body will start waking up slowly, even before the alarm goes off.