You don’t have to wait to the start of the new year to get a fresh start on improving your daily habits. Most of us know there are numerous benefits of eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly – like reducing your risk for serious conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, to name a few. Sometimes the challenge isn’t recognizing you need to do something different, it’s knowing the simple swaps and updates that make the biggest impact.
Clean Up Your Plate
Eating a healthy diet is good for your mind and body – it helps increase your energy and mental clarity, aids in weight loss and reduces your cancer risk. Although there are many “diet” plans and approaches to healthy eating, this simple formula is a good place to begin:
- ½ of your plate should be vegetables or fruit
- ¼ of your plate should be whole grains
- ¼ of your plate should be protein
To increase your fruit and veggie consumption, try adding kale or spinach to a smoothie, keep fresh fruit washed and easily accessible, or try grilling seasonal vegetables as a tasty side dish. Choose lean fish and poultry most often, and limit red meats and processed options like sandwich meat and bacon. Whole grain breads, pasta and rice help keep you full and provide valuable nutrients your body needs. Brown rice, barley and quinoa also great choices.
A balanced diet includes plenty of fiber from fruits and veggies and healthy fats – think olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish. Experts also recommend limiting trans fats found in baked goods, processed foods or other cooking oils. Lastly, choose water, tea or coffee with little to no sugar, replace sodas with sparkling water and limit milk and dairy to one to two servings a day.
Move More, Sit Less – Feel Better
Exercise – even in short bursts – has been shown to help you live a longer and healthier life. Not only does it help keep your weight in check, it can also improve your sleep and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Or you can create a combination to meet your exercise goals.
Moderate intensity activities include gardening and yardwork, brisk walking at 2.5 mph, biking at less than 10 mph, water aerobics, or dancing. Playing a game of tag with the kids in the yard counts too! Vigorous intensity exercises are those where you are breathing hard enough that you can talk, but not carry on a lengthy conversation. These include hiking on a hilly terrain, running, swimming laps, jumping rope, cycling at greater than 10 mph, or taking a high intensity exercise class.
You don’t need a gym membership to get your sweat on! To help meet your exercise goals, add in a weekly walk and catch up with a friend, listen to an audio book, podcast or music, or follow along with a free online exercise video. There are endless options to choose from for every style, activity and intensity to meet your needs.
Progress, Not Perfection
When it comes to changing your diet or adding more movement into your day, no one is perfect and there’s always room to improve. One way to meet your goals is to track what you eat and how much you exercise. Free and paid app options are available. Another way to keep yourself accountable is to share your goals with a friend, which significantly increases the chances that you’ll meet them! Having outside accountability can really make a difference.
What’s more, start with small, attainable goals to build some momentum. Once you meet your initial goal, give yourself a little reward to help you stay motivated. Remember to focus on what you can do TODAY, because those small efforts will add up to bigger results over time.
To schedule an appointment with CHI Memorial Integrative Medicine Associates – Signal Mountain in person or through a video visit, call (423) 886-2004. To find a physician practice in your area, visit CHI Memorial Medical Group.