Men in the United States can expect to live, on average, to age 72, while women live to 79. That makes me, no matter how much I do not want to say it, middle age. Welcome to my midlife crisis.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America and I intend to avoid it if at all possible. I have some pretty strong views about many things. Some things I am almost fanatical about. And it will kill me, slowly but surely. The stress I have been causing myself, getting upset over things I cannot control, surely that contributes to heart disease. Most people are aware that smoking, lack of exercise, a high fat diet, high blood pressure and high cholesterol level compound the risk of heart disease many, many fold. Stress, as well as drug and/or alcohol abuse, can contribute as well.
Eat Well, Live WellBy Tara DelloIacono Thies, RD
Being good to yourself is an important part of staying healthy. Nutrition and wellness are key elements of treating yourself right and living a balanced life. Woman cannot live on LUNATM bars alone. Work your way down this list and try something new every month! No need to try all ten tips at once-you have an entire year to take your health to new heights. You may find that some tips are easier to incorporate into your life than others. Why not start with #10 and enjoy some chocolate cake? Good luck and be selfish with your health!
1. Savor the moment! Rediscover the tastes, flavors, aromas and enjoyment of eating. Slow the pace down for at least one meal per week and let yourself savor the moment. Pamper yourself by using the nice dishes. Have flowers or candles at the table. Enjoy dinner with a friend and let the conversation slow you down. Develop a new relationship with food-one that acknowledges the interplay between food, pleasure and health.
2. Spice up your life! Variety! If you’re eating a varied diet with foods of all types, you should not have a problem getting the necessary vitamins and minerals for optimal body function. No matter how you look at it, creating a healthy balance in your meal plan can lead to immediate benefits and increase your long-term quality of life.
3. Write it down. A great way to make yourself aware of your food habits is by keeping a food log or diary. You’ll be able to easily identify areas for changes, such as, “Do I snack too often? Am I eating 4-5 veggies each day?” Use a notebook, journal, planner or even a pad of paper to recognize patterns in your eating routine.
4. Label-literate in 4 clicks or less! The Nutritional Facts label on packages can be a useful tool if you know what to look for and how to decipher it. Unfortunately, all the numbers, percentages and acronyms can be confusing, especially if you’re pressed for time and still want to make healthy choices. In this snippet from an article, I outline the tools you need to easily make healthy food choices: Labels at a glance.
5. Find the “perfect” meal plan. The “perfect” plan varies with each individual. The ideal diet will include your favorite foods in moderation, along with healthy selections of fruits, grains and veggies. An excellent guide to healthy meal planning is the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.
6. Munch a bunch! Eating 3-5 servings of vegetables a day can be challenging, but it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Trust me.
7. Get movin’! Diet is one important step towards disease prevention, but not the only step. Regular exercise, reducing stress, annual health exams and monthly breast self-exams play important roles in achieving optimum health.
8. Plan ahead! Knowing what you are going to eat in advance guides your food choices and keeps you from eating the whole bag of chips. If you pack your own lunch, you determine your portion sizes and save money, too!
9. Drink more water! Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, and I’m not talking about coffee and sodas. Your body is mostly made up of water and needs fluid to move nutrients around, cushion your joints, and feel good! Try to drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water daily.
10. Moderation, not deprivation! “Eating small servings of all foods will prevent feelings of deprivation and can only increase feelings of satisfaction and positive self-image” says Molly Lori MPH, RD. So say “Yes!” to that piece of chocolate cake today! (Just not everyday-and not 2-3 pieces at once, of course.) Find balance and peace by giving yourself permission to have small servings of those decadent treats.
Note from Kim: I started practicing most of these before I had read this article and I can truly say, they WORK!
Tara DelloIacono Thies is a Registered Dietitian who writes for Luna Bar. She has a clinical nutrition background and a special interest in diabetes, sports nutrition and health and wellness. This article is reprinted with the permission of Clif Bar, Inc.
Let’s see. I quit drugs, drinking, and smoking. The drugs and alcohol were actually very easy to stop doing. I simply outgrew them. Quitting smoking though, has been extremely stressful. I am eating more and gaining weight. I HAVE been eating better, most of the time, so that’s something.
I am now taking it another step further. I started exercising. REALLY exercising. Buns of Steel exercise. I have always been up on being in shape. I get Shape, Fitness, Self, and Health magazines monthly. Now though, I am exercising my spirit and mind as well. I am becoming kinder and gentler, but at the same time, stronger. I have not wanted to really admit that, for fear of being made fun of. I hid behind a veil of supposed toughness created from anger. Using the guise of “a different view”, I got angry about cell phones and pornography and a few other things:) when really, I was mad at myself. For not following through on all the ideas I had.
I intend to follow through this time. It’s been said I take myself too seriously. (You are kidding?!) I let a few uninformed people, people who know next to nothing about me, affect my day. How sad is that? I now know what the problem is though. I do not take my SELF seriously enough. That is about to change.
Three weeks ago, I began monitoring my SELF. I started doing yoga and step aerobics, although at this point the yoga feels better and is giving me what I am seeking. Relaxation and stress relief. Something I let contribute to my stress was taking myself too seriously. I have made an honest attempt at doing this less and paying more attention to self and not what others consider my self.
I intend to make 2013 a year of total self. As selfish as that sounds, it is:) But for good reason. The saying is something like this. “If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?” I want to become who I am, not who I think others want me to be. I am me. And I firmly believe that the better I take care of myself AND my self, the lower my risk for heart disease, or for that matter, any kind of disease, will be. I intend to extend my life as well as the quality of my life. I will try my best to not let rude drivers, or small-minded people, or crabby customers bring me down. I will breathe deep and cleanse myself every time I start to feel I am letting them get to me:)
So thank you to the rude drivers, snobby customers, and self-depreciating people in the world. Thank you for getting me to realize I should not take your words or myself too seriously. I may be able to affect only my world, but that’s really all that matters in the long run.
As of this writing, I have lost 35% body fat and 67 lbs, as well as a lot of stress. I also have added years to my life from having quit smoking:)
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