5 tips for adopting a healthier lifestyle – at home and work
Whether it’s because you want to lose weight, reduce your medicines or just feel better, adopting a healthier lifestyle is always a good idea. Rachel Brown, MD, offered some easy tips to get you started.
“When someone tells me they want to get on the healthy train, the first thing I ask about before we even begin discussing what they put on their plates or how they’re going to exercise is hydration,” said Dr. Brown. “So that’s going to be at the top of my list, and it should be the number one thing at the top of your list.”
Tip #1 – Hydration
Here’s a formula to help you know how much water or healthy fluids to drink during a day. Take your weight in pounds, divide it in half, and that’s how many ounces of water or healthy fluids you should drink in a day (without going over 100 ounces).
“When I calculate that for most people, their eyes get huge and they think they can’t possibly drink that much fluid,” Dr. Brown said. “Take baby steps and work toward that number.”
If you’ve got congestive heart failure or other fluid imbalances, talk to your doctor for guidance.
To improve your fluid intake at work, talk to your employer about making some of these changes:
- Provide a water cooler.
- Offer healthy fluids in vending machines.
- Make time for water breaks and bathroom breaks.
Once your body is hydrated it can then do all the things it needs to do, such as process healthy nutrition and manage exercise so that you can lose the weight you want to lose, be cognitively aware and sleep better.
Tip #2 – Rest and rejuvenation
Speaking of sleep, you can’t do any of the things you want to do without proper rest. Dr. Brown compared this to charging your phone. Your body uses that time to fix all the physical and emotional micro traumas it has suffered that day. For adults, it’s best to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
During the workday, try to include at least one rejuvenation break so you’re not feeling burnt out by the end of the day. Just sitting 10 minutes with your eyes closed in a quiet room can help.
Tip #3 – Eating healthy
To ease into adopting a healthier lifestyle, Dr. Brown recommended starting with snacks and breakfast.
Snacks: Eat a protein with your snack. Ultimately, you’ll want to get rid of some sugar, fat and added salt, but just adding a protein to whatever you snack on is going to make the best difference in the beginning.
Breakfast: Use the “three out of five rule.” What this means is you’ve got to have at least three things in your breakfast: a healthy grain, a fruit or vegetable, and a dairy or a protein. By doing this, you are setting yourself up for the best day in terms of your nutrition.
“A total overhaul is not going to stick,” Dr. Brown explained, “so I start and progress through very gradually so that we can adopt those healthy habits that are going to stay around for a long time.”
Other healthy eating changes: Look at the proportions of the food on your plate. Make sure half of your plate is comprised of fruits and vegetables. A quarter of your plate should be healthy whole wheat grains, such as brown rice, healthy pastas and healthy cereals. Another quarter of your plate should be protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, or nuts. Then include a little bit of dairy, such as low-fat cheese or milk. The main point is to make meat your side dish.
Once you get your proportions down, you can start looking at portion sizes to see where you can pare down in each of these categories. After that, you can look at swapping out healthy options.
“The reason I don’t encourage this right off the bat is because most folks don’t want to have that feeling of missing out on the foods they love,” Dr. Brown said. “So, if we can work on a healthy breakfast, healthy snacks, the right proportions of foods and maybe smaller portions, now we’re feeling empowered. It might be time to switch out some of our favorite foods for foods that have less salt, less sugar and less fat.”
To eat healthier at work, bring in your own snacks and lunch. You can also map out the healthy food sources in the area if you need to grab a bite to eat.
Tip #4 – Physical activity
Try to get in small amounts of physical activity throughout the day that gets your heart rate up and provides resistance for your upper body, lower body and core to strengthen your muscles. The recommendation is about 150 to 200 minutes per week, so about 30 minutes a day.
Dr. Brown recommended incorporating this into what you’re already doing. “Fitting in fitness is important because many of us don’t have a lot of time,” she said.
Doing some quick exercises at work, whether it’s a walk around the block or a short online workout session, can help you feel rejuvenated.
Tip #5 – Find a doctor
Regular visits with a primary care provider are important for maintaining good health. You can get screenings based on your age and family history. Learn what to expect at your annual visit and how to prepare here.
Find a doctor
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