Improving the health and wellness and of our community is our number one priority. Recently, Joe, one of our most successful weight loss patients, reminded us during an online chat that no matter how small the steps or how large the goal, small changes can add up to have a big impact on our health. To help you take the first step(s) toward improved health, we’ve outlined our top ten steps for improving your health today!
1) Take the Stairs
If you’re looking for ways to take baby steps towards better health, taking the stairs is (literally) one of the best places to start. Making small lifestyle changes that incorporate more physical activity into your daily life can add up to have a big impact. Climbing just two flights of stairs a day can lead to 6 pounds of weight loss per year!
2) Don’t Skip Meals, Especially Breakfast
When you skip meals, especially breakfast, you lose an opportunity to kick start your metabolism and may often end up consuming more calories on the days you skip meals. As our registered dietitian, Meagan Moyer puts it, “Eating only one or two large meals at the end of the day is like throwing wood into a fire that has no flame.” Skipping meals will slow your metabolism and trick your body into storing fat in anticipation of an upcoming period of starvation. Consuming small snacks between meals–instead of simply eating three large meals per day–can increase your metabolism and curb your hunger.
3) Stay Hydrated
Making up more than 60% of our total body weight, water is clearly a critical component to our health and well being. Just a few of the benefits of staying hydrated include:
- improved weight loss efforts
- healthier, glowing skin
- increased mental & physical energy
- illness prevention
Many of us forget that oxygen is the most important chemical in our body. 70% of our bodies ‘waste products’ are removed through breathing. Proper breathing can make the heart stronger, improve weight loss efforts, boost energy levels and stamina, and increase circulation.
5) Skip Dessert…Unless It’s Fruit…or Dark Chocolate
Reducing or eliminating simple sugars from your diet is a good way to lower your risk for excess weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. Many baked confections and desserts contain trans fats that should be avoided. If you’re sweet tooth won’t leave you alone, grab a bowl of fruit or a piece of dark chocolate. The phenols in dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure, while its flavanols help keep LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized and clogging up coronary artery walls.
As a culture, Americans are becoming more and more sleep deprived. There are countless negative side effects of sleep deprivation, but an easy remedy for most of them– napping! Alertness and physical performance can be improved by napping, and so too can our psychological well being. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can also cause your hormones to fluctuate, which can result in unnecessary weight gain. Remember, no matter how busy you are, sleep is not a luxury, it is a priority.
7) Wash Your Hands More Often
Washing your hands regularly, and in the right way, can drastically help limit the spread of illness and harmful bacteria. Here are a few tips to make your hand washing most effective:
- Rub hands together with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds
- Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after your pets, or handling money.
- Always wash your hands before eating.
- Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.
- Refrain from putting your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Avoid touching people and surfaces with unclean hands.
8) Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Salt consumed at the recommended serving size of 2300 mg a day is fine for seventy percent of the population who are not considered sodium sensitive. The problem is that on average Americans consume two to three times the recommended serving size…every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about ninety percent of Americans eat more than the recommended amount of salt. In fact, if you dined out for even just one meal today, it’s possible you’ve already reached or exceeded your sodium allotment for the day.
9) Act Now to Strengthen Your Bones & Joints!
Joint pain can be debilitating. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to strengthen your bones and joints now and protect them in the future. For example, maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight can cause significant joint pain and damage over time. Help prevent osteoporosis by getting plenty of calcium via dairy products, leafy green vegetables, or in supplement form. Eat more fish to up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce joint pain and stiffness in people suffering from arthritis. If you’re not a fish fan, you can take fish oil supplements instead. Also make sure to get plenty of vitamin C, which helps speed the recovery of damaged muscles and ease joint pain. Citrus fruits, guavas, red bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts are all great sources of vitamin C.
10) Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol not only adds hundreds of calories to your diet – a regular beer can add up to more than 150 calories while a glass of wine can cost you 100 calories – but it also temporarily halts your body’s ability to burn fat. So, while the beer you had with pizza and wings might not be a major caloric offender, your body insists on breaking down the calories from the alcohol first, leaving the calories from what you ate to get stored as fat.
Do you have additional tips that have helped you improve your health? Share them with us in the comments below!