10 Simple Steps to Better Health

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10 Simple Steps to Better Health by Karen Giles-Smith Staying healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. These 10 health habits are easy to incorporate into a busy lifestyle. The key to keeping it real: Just choose one. Or, come up with your own health habit. For at least 30 days, focus on the one health behavior that’s the most important to you. Make the goal you choose a top priority.

Secrets to Success

Rewrite the goal in your own words. Make it specific, doable, and measurable. For example, if you choose the second tip about eating breakfast, make it your own: “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I will eat breakfast that includes whole grain, fruit and milk or yogurt.” Post your goal where you’ll see it every morning: on your bathroom mirror, your computer or the fridge.

Determine why this goal is important to you. Why do you want it right now? What’s your inner motivation? The reason should encourage and energize you.

Visualize what life will be like with mission accomplished. Imagine your life—and talk about it—as if you’ve already achieved your goal.

Set yourself up for success. What will make it easier to achieve your goal? What kind of support do you need from family and friends? Consider the potential obstacles. As much as possible, create a positive, supportive environment for yourself.

Anticipate setbacks. If things don’t go the way you planned, give yourself a break, regroup, and get back in the game. Once you’ve got the goal down—once it’s a positive part of your life—give yourself a pat on the back! Then, when you’re ready and willing, choose your next step to better health and create another goal.

1. Meals matter.

Ditch deprivation diets and get back to basics: Eat what you enjoy in amounts that are satisfying, and on a regular basis. As often as possible, feed yourself and your family regularly scheduled meals and snacks. Research shows that people who do so are healthier, have lower body weights, and do better emotionally and socially. Resources: Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family by Ellyn Satter.

2.Enjoy breakfast’s benefits.

Eating breakfast improves concentration, problem-solving skills, strength and endurance. And people who regularly eat breakfast are more likely to get the nutrients they need and have healthier weights. Not hungry in the morning? Start small with a piece of fruit or a container of yogurt. Or try a drinkable breakfast such as a fruit smoothie.

3. Just breathe.

We take about 20,000 breaths every day—usually without giving it a second thought—but it helps to pay attention. Breathing more deeply, slowly and quietly can improve overall health, boost mental and physical energy, improve sleep, and help manage pain and anxiety as well as specific health conditions, such as high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, and gastrointestinal disorders. Andrew Weil, MD, says, “It’s absolutely free, making it one of the best medicines money can’t buy. All the equipment you need is right under your nose.” Try this: To deepen breathing, instead of trying to pull more air into your lungs, push more air out. Breathe in; then out. Now try to squeeze out more air.

4. Write it down to get it out.

 Writing about experiences, thoughts and feelings releases stress, according to an article in the June 2008 issue of Scientific American. Expressive writing may improve memory, improve sleep, boost immune cell activity, speed healing after surgery, and help cancer patients feel better after treatments. You can keep your writing under wraps–as in “Dear Diary” or a private blog–or broadcast it to the whole wide Web world via a public blog. Resource: ScribeTime.com (click on “Journal Writing Tips” near the bottom of the home page).

5. Fifteen minutes for yourself.

Is your mind going a mile a minute? Regular meditation can improve your health, state of mind and ability to concentrate. In particular, it can reduce tension, stress, anxiety, and help control blood pressure and chronic pain. Sit in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Wear comfortable clothing. Close your eyes, relax and breathe. Slowly draw air into your lungs and then comfortably let it out. As your mind wanders, release any thought and refocus on your breathing. .

6. Fun physical activity.

The benefits of regular exercise for the brain and body are welldocumented: It improves cardiovascular health, mood, vitality, alertness and feelings of wellbeing; and reduces anger, fatigue and tension. The key is to find physical activity that’s fun and feels good. Consider the types of physical activity you’ve enjoyed in the past. Do you prefer to be by yourself or would you rather exercise with a buddy or participate in a group? You may wish to test-drive several kinds of exercise or exercise classes to find what’s right for you. Check with your local fitness facility to see what’s new.

7. Sufficient shut-eye.

Getting enough sleep is important for immune function, overall health and wellbeing. It may help prevent chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and overweight. Although the optimal amount of sleep varies from person to person, most adults need 7-8 hours each night, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

8. Go wild.

Spending time in nature reduces stress, blood pressure and cholesterol and improves outlook on life. It’s as easy as a walk in the park or may be as close as your own backyard. In bad weather, look for indoor gardens to meander through or buy a few houseplants to nurture. Many easy-to-grow plants like golden pothos, English ivy and spider plants filter airborne chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene that are given off by synthetic upholstery fabrics.

9. Banish the bothers.

All those little nuisances you put up with day after day (the squeaky car door; the dirty windows; the cluttered closet) can add up to big-time stress. Make a list of 25 things you’re tolerating and make a plan to do something about the worst offenders (fix it; clean it; or clear it out). Resource:

10.Eat adventurously.

Try it, you might like it! Did you know that there are more than 50 nutrients in foods? If you enjoy a wide variety of foods, you’re more likely to get a wide variety of nutrients. Make a list of foods you’re curious about that you haven’t tried before. Decide which you’d like to taste-test at home or the next time you eat out. Remember to be patient with kids and new foods. A child may need to see a particular food on his plate 15 times before he’s.

1. Drink one less soda or sweetened drink per day.

Just drinking one less soda or sweetened drink each day will allow you to lose 10 pounds in one year. It’s that simple. Most Americans are drinking nearly 60 gallons of soda yearly. Even the diet sodas aren’t ideal. The artificial sugar in those drinks fools your body into secreting more insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that is designed to transfer sugar from the bloodstream into your cells. Without the sugar to transfer, the extra insulin causes an increase in the amount of fat that is stored in your abdomen.

2. Add one fruit or vegetable per day to your diet.

Both the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association recommend eating at least 5 fruits and or vegetables daily. They help lower the risk of both cancer and heart disease. I know not everyone loves the taste of fruits and vegetables. But here is a trick. Try tasting the new one at least 12 times. Even if you only eat one bite, repeating the tasting allows almost everyone to learn to like a new taste. Try it. You may be surprised that you’ve found a new great dish that you really enjoy and is great for your health. Just adding one fruit or vegetable daily can make a difference. For a change, you can snack on a handful of walnuts. They’re full of omega-3 fatty acids and really good for your heart, joints and brain.

3. Move more.

You don’t have to run a marathon to benefit from exercise. And getting started exercising can be tricky. So here is a trick to jump-start your exercise habit. Just park a little further from the door you plan to enter. Or walk up one flight of stairs or down two instead of taking an elevator. Try walking up the escalator. When you’re on the phone, don’t sit down. Stand and keep moving. At work, make your meetings walking meetings. Ask the other person to go for a walk and you’ll be amazed how pleasant the meeting will seem. Just move. It all ads up. Eventually, you can work your way up to 10,000 steps each day. To see how many steps you already are taking, buy a pedometer. It counts your steps and usually costs between $10 and $25.

4. Find Quiet Time in your day.

Let’s face it. We are all living hectic lives that never seem to slow down. Once or twice a day, find a quiet spot in a pleasant location. Take a slow deep breath through your nose, hold it for 5 seconds, and let it out slowly through your mouth. Doing that for even one minute will begin to relax you. Work your way up to 5 or 10 minutes once or twice daily. You’ll be amazed at how relaxed you feel. If you are a smoker, inhale only air and leave out the cigarette. This is smoke free quiet time.

5. Improve your sleep.

Starting 30 minutes before your bedtime, turn off all electronics. Find a quiet spot and either read a book, listen to relaxing music, or talk with friends or family. It’s a great way to settle down and get ready for bed and it will likely help you drift off to sleep. Sleep not only keeps you rested, it also helps control your weight. While we are sleeping, hormones are produced that curb our appetites and keep us from feeling hungry. Ever think sleep was an important part of your weight control? It is.

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