Real Life, Real Advice – Strategies for every day living

February 06, 2009

I know you’ve been making changes, trying to reach your goals of the Challenge.  Now’s the time to start thinking about strategies for every day living.  And there are a variety of ways to help kick start your health into high gear.  I’ve got  10 simple strategies that can help you  get on or remain on track to feeling better, having more energy, and ultimately getting into the best shape of your life!   Surely, you’ll find a couple you like!

1.    Have the Little Engine that Could Mentality. 
I know….it’s corny…but ya know what…it works!  Change requires a shift in your mindset; focusing on the positive “I think I can” attitude, like in the children’s book, The Little Engine that Could with everything you do, from daily exercise, to eating right!  If you believe you’ll be successful, you most likely will be.  Have confidence in yourself.

2.    Make your goals commitments. 
Goal setting works—period.  But goals are merely the first step in the process.  To make the goals reality, you have to make commitments.  Rather than setting a goal to wake up every day at 6 AM to exercise before work, make a commitment to do so.  Set a date, a deadline, where you will commit to making that goal a reality.  Once that date is reached you can revisit if you want to keep going or if you’d rather “let yourself off the hook”, but you won’t do it before then. 

3.    Eat more fruits and vegetables. 
While this may seem a bit basic, Americans eat an average of only 2 servings each day.  The minimum recommendation is 5, meaning we’re not even halfway to the minimum recommendation.  Make sure you have a rainbow of colors with every single meal – the more colorful the fruits and vegetables, the better.

4.    Move more, move often. 
Move as much as possible, as often as possible.  Always take the stairs at work, the mall, the airport, etc.  Park as far away from your destination as possible and of course carve out a minimum of 30 minutes each day for physical activity.  Every step adds up to create a new you and allow you to reclaim your health. 

5.    Eat breakfast. 
Americans eat breakfast just a few days each week.  And you know by now, it is the most important meal of the day for a good reason. 

6.    Focus on carbohydrate quality. 
How much you eat is important, but arguably even more important is what you’re eating.  Carbohydrates are fantastic for you—when you choose high fiber, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  When you eat too much sugar, on the other hand, your health will suffer.

7.    Increase your intake of healthy fats. 
Certain dietary fats are necessary to survive.  Others not only allow us to survive, but can truly optimize our health.  And those fats are omega-3 fats.  Those who eat more omega-3 fats and less unhealthy saturated and trans fats have lower rates of heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and many other disease.  Eat more fish—the American Heart Association recommends at least 12 oz of fish per week.

8.    Start strength training. 

Strength training improves balance, confidence, strength, bone density, balance, self esteem, and much, much more. 

9.    Surround Yourself with Positive Influences. 

Our friends, family, and co-workers can make or break success.  For example, rather than talking to your spouse while sitting on the couch, go for a walk with the entire family after dinner.  Take the family to the park.  Hang out with others who have similar goals and will encourage yours.

10.  Drink more water. 
Americans get an average of 450 calories each day from beverages alone (double that if you regularly stop at a coffee shop and get a fancy “large latte.”  That is nearly one pound per week just from beverages.  Switch to water.  With 17 tsp of sugar in a 20 oz soda, it’s way too much!  Eat your calories, don’t drink them.


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John J. Whyte, MD, MPH is the Chief Medical Expert & Vice President for Continuing Medical Education where he develops, designs and delivers health programming.
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