We note the passing of time each year by the holidays and anniversaries we celebrate. Most of our celebrations involve giving and receiving gifts. We give from the heart and we look forward to the joys the celebration days will bring. But, young or old, there’s still nothing more fun than unwrapping a gift.
Now that another year is ahead of us, think about a special gift that you can give and unwrap. How about unwrapping the gift of a healthier you?
What’s on your health wish list – what would make a healthier you in the new year? Lose a few pounds? Have more energy? Get more physical activity? Lower your blood pressure or cholesterol?
Health means many things, not just the absence of disease. It’s a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being—a state that we’d all like to enjoy. The good news is that most of the factors that determine health are within our power. Let’s look at what might be on your wish list.
Losing a few pounds
The formula for weight loss, whether slight or significant, is eating fewer calories than you burn.
Shave calories from your plate by reducing the amount of fat not by reducing the amount of food. Think reduce, replace or omit. This can work for mayonnaise, salad dressing, margarine, butter, cooking oil, and bacon bits.
Remember to include healthy monounsaturated fats every day such as olive oil, canola oil, and a handful of a variety of nuts.
Treats – dessert, candy, cookies, etc. – are a part of life. Don’t eliminate them but don’t let them rule. Select a portion of your favorite treat that could fit in the palm of your hand. Savor it slowly and when it’s finished, get out of town—leave the kitchen, go brush your teeth, pop some gum in your mouth. You owe it to yourself to keep your calories under control by getting the upper hand on your goodies.
Another way to improve your calorie balance is to eat meals instead of many munchies. At least three times a day sit before a plate. Fill half of the plate with vegetables, one-fourth with starchy foods (whole grain bread, corn, brown rice, beans, potatoes, etc.), one-fourth of the space filled with your protein food (fish, chicken, chops, egg, etc.), and fruit on the side.
If your meals are consistently unfulfilling and you always want to go back for more, try adding soup.
Having more energy
Having enough energy can be nutritional and it may be medical. Be sure to consult with your doctor to find out if you have any medical concerns such as iron-deficiency anemia, medications that make you tired, a slow thyroid, or any others.
If there’s no medical issue, try these tips:
Be sure to eat throughout the day. Take care not to pour coffee (or other drinks with caffeine) into yourself throughout the day that can zap your energy.
Make sure you’re putting whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, as well as beans and vegetables on your plate. They contain B–vitamins which help us get energy from the foods we eat.
The best energy-giver is more physical activity. Start with a walk for five minutes in one direction and five minutes back. Add more minutes every time you do it. Small steps can lead to big rewards.
Now, imagine that the answers to your health wish list are in a box. Peek inside and celebrate the gift of a healthier you.