Now that the new year has begun, many people decide that it is a good time to change their health and wellness habits. New Year’s resolutions are in full effect and the gyms are packed with new business. Many new year’s resolutions only last 1 month with fewer lasting 6 months. With those statistics, knowledge is power. The more you know about living a healthy and active lifestyle can assist with keeping those new year’s resolutions for the whole year.
The most common area that individuals immediately think of when discussing health is diet and nutrition. Especially here in the south, food is the topic of discussion when planning/organizing events such as football tailgates, birthday parties, church gatherings, etc. According to the American Heart Association, healthy dietary foods include fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and non-tropical vegetable oils. Excessive caffeine intake each day can also affect a heart-healthy lifestyle. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate. Studies have shown that 1-2 cups of coffee per day isn’t harmful, but you should not exceed this amount.
Another area to consider with dieting and nutrition is portion size versus serving size. Portion size is how much food you choose to eat and serving size is the recommended amount on the food label. Reading the labels can ensure that while eating the healthy foods you are eating the correct amount at each meal. Knowing this information can assist with planning meals and sticking with your new year’s resolution.
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, some people may find themselves fatigued or anxious. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. One technique that has become more popular over the last few years is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. This is a modified form of cognitive therapy that incorporates mindfulness practices such as meditation and breathing exercises. The goal is for individuals to learn how to break away from negative thought patterns that can cause depression or anxiety before it becomes debilitating.
Reading Nutrition Labels
Though we all have seen and know what the nutrition labels on food look like, do we all know how to read those labels? Below you will find information on how to properly read nutrition labels.
- Look at the serving information at the top. This will tell you the size of a single serving and the total number of servings per container (or package).
- Check total calories per serving and container. In order to lose weight, you must take in less calories per day than what you burn. Pay attention to the calories per serving and how many calories you’re really consuming if you eat the whole package.
- Limit certain nutrients. Pay attention to the amounts of added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Not all are bad, but you want to limit the amount you consume each day. Avoid trans fats in your diet. If the food label reads that there are 0 trans fats, check the ingredients in the food for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. These are trans fats, but the food label may read 0 if it is less than 0.5 grams per serving.
- Get enough of the beneficial nutrients such as calcium, choline, dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, D, and E.
In addition to diet, exercise is another important component of living a healthy lifestyle in the new year. Below you will find what type and how much of each exercise is best for your wellbeing.
- It is recommended that you do 30 minutes per day 5 days a week.
- Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling
- Try to get at least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training.
- Examples: Working out with free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and pull-ups.
- Perform stretches every day and before and after other exercise.
Examples: Tai chi and yoga are good stretching based exercises. You can also find YouTube videos or DVDs of basic stretches to perform. Your doctor can recommend basic stretches that you can do at home as well.
Overall, starting off the new year to live a heart-healthy life will allow you to keep doing the activities you find enjoyable in life. Finding a new hobby or joining a community exercise group are great options. Staying motivated with a goal in mind is the most important part of making a change. Try to incorporate these diet and exercise programs into your daily routine to form a habit. For more information on healthy living or for a tour of our facility, please contact us at 225-906-4097!