Body and Soul | Fit and Fab: Unwrap the Gift of a Healthier You

Body and Soul | Fit and Fab: Unwrap the Gift of a Healthier You

Published December 18, 2007

Updated Dec. 4,  2007 – We note the passing of time each year by the holidays and anniversaries we celebrate. Most of our celebrations involve giving and receiving gifts. 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?

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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. No one wants naked or dry food. But, many times less fat lets the taste shine through. 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 (any way you like them).
- Have one-fourth of the space filled with starchy foods (whole grain bread, corn, brown rice, beans, potatoes, etc.)
- Have one-fourth of the space filled with your protein food (fish, chicken, chops, egg, etc.).
- Have a fruit on the side — try a baked apple or a sliced banana with light whipped topping and a sprinkle of nutmeg
- If your meals are consistently unfulfilling and you always want to go back for more, try adding soup.  Research done several years ago showed that a bowl of soup before a meal was useful in helping to lose weight.  Give it a try — look for lower-sodium, low-fat soups.
- One more tip for calorie management: Chew your calories, don’t drink them. Fruit juices, smoothies, shakes, sodas, etc. send far more calories into your system than you can feel.  Aim for water, seltzer, or any other very low-calorie beverage to go with your meals and snacks.

Get 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. Don't pour too much 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. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has lots of resources in its campaign called “Small Steps.” You can find them at (check "See Also" to your left for a link).

The Wish List and more
Believe the affirmation that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Imagine that the answers to your health wish list are in a box. Peek inside and you’ll see the traditional family favorite: greens and other green and orange vegetables, peas, beans, fish, meat, nuts, whole grains and fresh fruit.

Now imagine the box beautifully decorated. Celebrate and unwrap the gift of a healthier you.

Call 1-866-3-LOSE-IT for a free “A Healthy BET” healthy living brochure!

Written by BET-Staff


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