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The start of a new year is cause for many women to resolve to get healthier in one form or another and losing weight is the #1 resolution each year. Resolutions are easy to make but hard to keep, given that 45% of Americans make resolutions, but only 8% report being successful. Which begs the question: "How can we make resolutions to get healthier more successful?" My Answer: Make a Non-Diet Resolution. Here are my top 5 Non-Diet Resolution Suggestions.
#1: Move more, Sit Less
Even for people who exercise regularly, this is really important. There's even a term for these people: Sedentary Exercisers. Yes, it's true. Those who go to the gym or walk or do other exercise, but spend the rest of their day sitting at work, in front of a computer, and in front of the TV at night. Sitting for long periods of time increases your risk for several medical conditions (obesity, diabetes, heart disease). The Solution: get up and move every hour, take 10-15 minutes after eating lunch to walk--a great strategy to lower blood sugar. When working at your computer, stand at least half of the time -- there are manystand up desks these days.
#2: Sleep More, Weigh Less
Many studies show a strong connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. Sleep-deprived adults eat about 300 calories more per day. Not surprising because lack of sleep decreases willpower, making you more likely to indulge on foods high in sugar and fat, trying to boost energy and/or mood. The Solution: Turn off all screens 30 minutes before bedtime, drink non-caffeinated drinks after 3pm, go to bed 30-60 minutes earlier. Aim for 7-8 hours of solid sleep per night.
#3: Eat More Vegetables, Especially from my Top 10 List
The average American eats less than 1 serving of vegetables daily. If you're a woman over 45, you need at least 5 servings (2 1/2 cups) of vegetables daily. I've helped many women gradually work up to this amount--it just takes a bit of planning and brainstorming to figure out the best strategies that work for you. Along with getting those 5 servings, get more nutrient-bang for your buck by choosing these Top 10 Veggies more frequently.
#4: Drink Up
More water, that is. I'm impressed by the number of women I work with who walk around dehydrated most of the time. Not getting enough water affects every organ and system in our body and makes exercising more difficult. Just like the vegetables, it takes some strategies and sometimes problem-solving to get 6-8 servings per day as a minimum, but it's doable!
#5: Have More Fun!
Research shows the more we laugh, the better our health --it's really true! Laughter decreases stress hormones and improves your resistance to infections by increasing immune cells and antibodies. So go out and have more fun! Many of the women I work with set goals around having more fun as part of their Wellness Plan. With our very busy lives, we need to schedule in fun, just like you schedule a doctor's appointment, exercise or your child's soccer game.
Cheers to a FUN, Healthy, Happy 2016!
What's my blood sugar?
Knowing your blood sugar becomes more important as we reach 45 years and older. As many as 79 million Americans have elevated blood sugar, or pre-diabetes, which is a fasting blood sugar between 100-125. This is a wake-up call that you’re heading toward diabetes, more likely to get heart disease and have a stroke. But it’s not too late to turn things around! By knowing what foods are best for you to eat and doing the right amount and type of exercise, you can prevent diabetes.
What’s my blood pressure?
If you don't know, you need to find out. High blood pressure is called a “silent killer” because frequently there are no warning signs or symptoms. One in 3 American adults (about 70 million) have high blood pressure (BP), or hypertension. High blood pressure is the #1 risk factor for stroke. I urge every woman to know and track her BP -- and that includes young adults. A healthy blood pressure is below 120/80, and there are many ways to keep blood pressure in a healthy, including eating the right foods, doing moderate exercise, not smoking and preventing diabetes.
Am I managing my stress?
Studies show that chronic stress increases our risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. Chronic stress may trigger the production of inflammatory compounds and damage cells, blood vessels, and areas of the heart and brain. There are many strategies we can use to help lower our stress, including an anti-inflammation diet, regular exercise, meditation, yoga and massage just to name a few.
Am I getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D?
Recent studies have shown that getting too much calcium may contribute to hardening of the arteries, or arteriosclerosis. However, not getting enough calcium increases our risk for developing osteoporosis. What’s a woman to do? My first recommendation is to get your vitamin D level checked by your doctor. Next, determine how much calcium you get from food. Having these two pieces of information makes it possible to determine if you need to supplement calcium and/or vitamin D and how much to supplement on a daily basis.
Do I socialize enough?
Studies show people who socialize regularly and have close connections with family or friends have healthier levels of stress hormones. They have less cortisol, less inflammation, less insulin and lower blood sugar. So not only is diet and exercise important for women’s health, but getting together with friends on a regular basis is essential for good health too. Go make a date for coffee, lunch or a walk with a friend now!