Posted on Dec 31, 2019, 5 p.m.
Every New Year inspires many people with hope of starting over, which can sometimes be an overwhelming endeavor, especially when it comes to health and well being. However, the secret to achieving and maintaining good health is to start by incorporating small behavioral changes that you can manage and live with in your lifestyle, according to experts from Baylor College of Medicine.
When it comes to setting goals and evaluating your health the best place to start is with a physical examination, take this opportunity to discuss with your doctor or certified medical healthcare provider about your lifestyle choices and how they may be impacting your health. This wellness visit may also include screenings for certain issues or illnesses to help you become more informed about what diet, nutrition, or exercise changes that may be needed; testing for cancers may even be recommended depending on your age, risk factors, and guidelines. The earlier a problem is identified the more likely you will be to getting back to optimal health sooner.
Substituting less healthy high calorie ingredients with healthier alternatives is an easy way to watch calories without losing flavor, modifying fat content with healthier solutions may provide one of the biggest calorie reductions. Keep in mind that not all fat is bad, but often simple replacements such as greek yogurt being used to replace sour cream or switching from white bread to whole wheat/grain bread or substituting brown rice for white rice can make a big difference.
As far as exercise is concerned try starting with small changes in your life so that you won’t feel so overwhelmed with a whole new routine. Try using the stairs more often, park farther away from buildings, try a walk around the block, try taking walking breaks at work, get a small refillable bottle and walk to the farther water cooler to fill it, stand more at work rather than sitting at a desk all day, walk to the far restroom, perhaps set an alarm at work for every other hour to walk for a few minutes around your desk, and maybe try setting an alarm at home to go for a bike ride. It doesn’t really matter what time of day you exercise, the important part is actually getting up and moving, as these habits become more routine doing them for longer or more intensely won’t be difficult.
Changes that people tend to overlook when starting a journey to better health include:
- Eating breakfast, which will help you to make better food choices during the day.
- Cutting back on portion sizes, don’t rush the change, take it slowly.
- Having a support system, perhaps with others who are also looking to improve health.
- Getting enough sleep, the body needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Going for walks, this could be a short 10 minute stroll in a park which can be gradually increased; even the speed you walk at can be slow and built up gradually.
Don’t forget that:
- Weighing yourself may help you to make better choices, but don’t get too stuck on the numbers on the scale as it doesn’t necessarily indicate your health, and as you gain muscle keep in mind it weighs more than fat.
- There may be set backs in your journey, but don't give up, these are not failures rather opportunities to learn, adjust, and keep progressing forward.
- Stay positive and motivated, there is no need for being discouraged, everyone is different, and every day presents a new day full of opportunities to make better choices.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.