Setting Yourself Up
If you are like most of America, you make self- improvement resolutions to start out the New Year. Some, if not most, of the resolutions are often health related - lose weight, stop smoking, join a gym. It often ends up more like a list of our previous year’s failures – all the things we wish we’d accomplished but didn’t. Why do we do it to ourselves, year after year?
Too Many Good Intentions
Part of the problem may be that we simply overwhelm ourselves with good intentions. And, let’s face it, most of us know what we should be doing. But because of the sheer number of or the unrealistic expectations of our goals, we often give up part of the way through or never even get started.
Pick One Thing
So what to do then? Change can be a challenge, even for the most determined among us. So make it easier on yourself. Decide what matters most and pick one simple thing to do about it. Here’s some relatively easy ways to get started that can make a big difference in the quality of your life.
One Swap for a Healthier Weight
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, on any given day, half the people in the U.S. consume sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, specialty coffee drinks, fruit juices, or sports drinks. These can add anywhere from 200 to over 700 calories a day to your diet. If you just swap out one regular 20 oz. soda or one 16 oz. energy drink a day for water, you can save over 87,000 calories per year.
Opting for a “diet” drink isn’t necessarily the solution. Studies have shown that switching to diet drinks doesn’t result in weight loss. Worse, many studies show that the opposite happens. Create your own flavored water instead. You’ll cut your calories and save some cash.
Eat an Apple
You don’t have to slug down kale smoothies to eat healthier. In fact, the one a day swap works again. Rather than a glass of juice or a low-calorie fruit drink for breakfast, try a piece of fruit and a glass of water.
100% fruit juice contains lots of sugar and lacks the natural fiber fresh fruit has. Artificially sweetened fruit (or other) drinks can cause sugar cravings – and excess sugar doesn’t make for a healthier diet.
Slow down when you eat. A new study reveals those who snarf their food were five times as likely to be at high risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease as compared to slow chewers.
Walk this Way,
Live Stronger, Longer
Getting started on an exercise regime seems to be one of the hardest things for most adults. If exercise is on your resolution list, forget hours at the gym at the outset, just take a walk.
A study by the American Cancer Society revealed less than 2 hours/week of walking correlated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality. The study called walking the “perfect exercise” because it is simple, free, convenient, needs no special equipment or training, and can be done at any age. It’s also good for your brain, improving cognition.
If your resolutions include more “me time,” family time, or lowering stress levels, you can do all three things by disconnecting from your cell phone and social media for at least one hour a day, especially at meal times.
A recent study adds to a growing body of evidence that internet and smartphone addiction is harming our minds by affecting our ability to be attentive – the cause of cell-related traffic accidents. Many experts in cell phone addiction even recommend removing social media apps from your cell phone.
Many social scientists also agree that social media, while connecting us electronically, often disconnects us from each other personally and makes it easier to be unkind. However, according to numerous studies, being kind and receiving kindness can help to relieve stress, is good for your physical and mental health, and may lengthen your life.
So look up, unplug for a bit, connect in person with those around you, and most of all, be kind.
For great health and fitness ideas and a local wellness calendar, visit LNKTVhealth.lincoln.ne.gov and watch helpful videos on the LNKTV YouTube Channel @LNKTVhealth, but not during meal time.
Health and the City is a monthly column that examines relevant community health issues, spotlights the local organizations whose work impacts the wellness of our community, and highlights fun, useful, and important health, nutrition, and active living opportunities. Health and the City appears the fourth Saturday of every month in Neighborhood Extra and is brought to you by Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (HealthyLincoln.org) and LNKTV Health. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.