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Eating a Healthful Diet, Be Active, Get Adequate Sleep!

Build a better life, one day at a time

There’s more to health than not being sick! Those everyday habits, how you eat, how active you are, the way you spend your days, can help determine how healthy you are. Get started on your journey to better health, by requesting a copy of Personal Health Management from your local health management specialist.

Eating a Healthful Diet

The 5 Simple Changes That Will Improve Your Diet
1. Focus on eating healthy sources of unsaturated fats; nutrient-dense, fiber-rich carbohydrates; low-fat dairy products; and lean sources of protein. Here’s how to make wise selections in each of these categories when you’re shopping or ordering food.
Go for good fats. All fat is not bad. Your body needs good fats to stay healthy. What are good fats? Choose oils for salad dressings and cooking that are made from predominantly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, and flaxseed oil. Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are sources of good fats, as are deep cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna, which are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Choose good carbohydrates. Not all carbs are bad! You need nutrient-dense, fiber-rich carbohydrates in your diet to stay healthy. That means eating fruits and vegetables at every meal and selecting whole-grain breads and pasta rather than white bread and pasta (which have been stripped of much of their fiber and nutrients). Use legumes (beans, lentils, dried peas) for making fiber-rich soups.
Opt for low-fat dairy products. Dairy products are an important source of nutrients, especially calcium. Dairy products may promote weight loss as well, so it’s important to include them in your diet, but choose the low-fat or fat-free versions of yogurt, cottage cheese, and hard cheeses.

Select lean proteins. You can still consume meat as part of a healthy diet, but choose chicken and turkey (and remove the skin!), fish, reduced-fat cheese, buffalo (a great replacement for beef), and lean cuts of beef (if you still relish an occasional steak).
2. Avoid as many processed foods as you can, as they are loaded with trans fats (a notoriously bad-for-you fat used to extend the shelf life of many packaged products) and sugar, and have typically been stripped of their fiber and many nutrients. This means skipping most of the cookies, baked goods, chips, and many crackers that cram the shelves of grocery stores. Find alternatives without trans fats. To do that, you’ll need to move out of the aisles and shop the perimeter of the store, where you find the fresh fruits and vegetables. And go for color! Replace white potatoes with sweet potatoes, white bread with dark bread, and white rice with brown rice. Watch out for frozen foods too: Frozen dinners can be stuffed with fat, both saturated and trans and loaded with calories. Instead, select prepared foods like a whole rotisserie chicken.

3. Don’t overeat! Every calorie counts and you should know how many calories a day you need, based on your size, gender, activity level, and age. If you need to lose weight, cut back 500 calories a day and engage in regular physical activity. Read labels and beware, many of them are misleading, especially about calories, which are listed per serving (and there may be several servings in a package). So make sure you stick to one serving. And consider calories when you’re out to dinner, some main courses have 2,000 calories in them, more than most women need for the entire day.

4. Watch portion size! Use smaller plates, eat out less often, and when you do, either share meals or take half the meal home. Ask your server to wrap up half your entree for you to take home even before serving it to you. Or, select two appetizers, rather than an appetizer and a main course. Eat a salad first to dampen your appetite and select fruit for dessert.

5. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine sets a ballpark figure for women at approximately 90 ounces of total water, from all beverages and foods, each day, and men an average of approximately 125 ounces daily. About 20 percent of that is provided by food, so 80 percent should come from beverages. That means women should drink about 72 ounces (that’s the equivalent of four of those half-liter bottles of water, or nine eight-ounce glasses or bottles) a day. Men should drink about 100 ounces a day (around six water bottles, or twelve eight-ounce glasses) every day. Beware of extra and nutritionally empty, calories in other beverages, such as sugar-laded sodas, sugar-stuffed energy drinks and smoothies, and fat-filled lattes.

Be Active

10 Real-Life Ways to Work in a Workout
How much is enough? The bottom line is that, to achieve maximal gain, you need to exercise aerobically every day for at least 30 minutes, preferably up to an hour (especially if you need to lose weight). Across the week, your fitness plan should include not only aerobic exercise, but also a routine to maintain your posture (take a yoga class), strength (get in a weight lifting routine), balance (try tai chi), and flexibility (yoga is great for this too). If you don’t know, or are having trouble getting going, here are some practical tips to help you get going and stick to one of the most important routines of your life.

1. If you don’t have tennis shoes or gym clothes, go to the mall and buy some gear to work out in. If you have the goods, you eliminate one daily excuse for not moving.

2. Pick a time of day that suits you best for exercising (some people can do the 5:30 a.m. routine, others are lunchtime buffs, while others prefer late afternoon or evening workouts). Find the time that works best for you and schedule it in your calendar. And you must schedule it, a five or ten-minute walk across the parking lot or to the corner store helps, but that’s not your workout.

3. Dress for success! Put your gym clothes on and lace up the shoes well before the appointed time to get you in the mood and spirit.

4. Sign up for a class: yoga, dance, aerobic, Pilates, swimming, walking, or stretching. Buy home CDs, DVDs, or videotapes. Anything to get you moving!

5. Choose an activity you enjoy, if you like the water, swim. If you love biking, sign up for a spin class. If you love dancing, take up ballroom dancing. If you adore walking, start a walking club with friends. There are many activities to choose from and if you do something you like, you’re more likely to stick with it. While the initial activity may not be ultimately enough aerobic activity, it will get you going, and that’s what counts.

6. Pay for it! If you fork over money for a class or gym membership, it will help motivate you to get there, so you don’t feel like you’re wasting your money.

7. Get a fitness evaluation to help you develop a plan that’s suited for you and if you can afford it, consider hiring a trainer to help you keep at it.

8. Find a partner who is at your fitness level and set dates to exercise together. That way, on days you feel like skipping, it will be much harder to do so, as you’ll not only be letting yourself down, but a friend too.

9. Vary your activities: mix aerobics, weight lifting, and balance and flexibility sessions throughout the week. It’s the basics of keeping fit, but it is also less boring.

10. Discover ways to minimize boredom that comes with the routine: try music, TV programs on fitness machines, podcasts or books or courses on tape to listen to while exercising.

Whatever it takes, get moving! Once you have and you reap the rewards, you’ll be so very glad you did. Good luck!

Getting Adequate (and High-Quality) Sleep

10 Ways to Overcome Sleep Problems When They Occur (and They Will)
Most of us have trouble sleeping occasionally: We’re worried about a test or presentation, we’re upset over a fight with our spouse, we’ve got a new baby at home, we’ve just gotten laid off, or we’re starting a new job. Many of life’s events disrupt our sleep, but thankfully they are short-lived and resolve rather quickly. If you’re experiencing problems with sleep, here are some general tips on how to get adequate and more restful sleep:

1. Set a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends.

2. Avoid foods and drugs with stimulants in them. Avoid caffeine after 3 p.m., as its effects can last as long as eight hours. Watch for hidden caffeine in teas, colas, and chocolate. Beware of medications that may contain stimulants. Some over-the-counter drugs for colds, cough, and allergies can disrupt sleep. Numerous prescription medications can as well, talk with your doctor if you suspect any of your medications are interfering with your sleep.

3. Don’t eat a large meal close to bedtime. Large meals can cause indigestion and interfere with sleep. Watch fluid intake as well, which can cause frequent trips to the bathroom.

4. Avoid alcoholic beverages close to bedtime. While alcohol will help you fall asleep, it is notorious for disrupting particularly deep sleep and REM sleep (when we do our dreaming).

5. Get moderate amounts of exercise every day. Exercise improves sleep patterns, but be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime, as it is a stimulant.

6. Develop a relaxation ritual right before retiring to bed, take a hot bath, sip on hot milk, read an inspirational book, or listen to relaxing music. Do it every night so the ritual triggers a relaxation and sleep response in you.

7. Make sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly. Get rid of distractions, such as bright lights (ask your spouse to read elsewhere), noises from the TV or computer, and an uncomfortable bed.

8. If you can’t sleep, don’t lie awake in bed. If you are not asleep in 20 minutes, get out of bed, leave your bedroom, and engage in a relaxing activity, reading or listening to pleasant music. The minute you start to feel sleepy, head for the bed and try again.

9. If you are short on sleep on any given day, consider taking a brief (30-minute) nap in the afternoon to give yourself a boost. Beware of sleeping too long or taking naps too late in the afternoon, which can disrupt nighttime sleep.

10. If your problems don’t resolve, keep a sleep diary. Note your eating patterns, alcohol and medication usage, sleeping times, and other behaviors to discern patterns to help pinpoint problem areas.

Despite their best efforts, millions of people go on to develop chronic insomnia. While 30 to 40 percent of adults say they experience insomnia sometime in any given year, about 15 percent of adults have chronic insomnia, defined as having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or experiencing unrefreshing sleep at least three nights per week for more than a month. Chronic insomnia is more common in the elderly, and women suffer from it more than men.

If you are suffering from chronic insomnia, you should be evaluated by your physician or by a health-care professional at a sleep disorders clinic. You may have an underlying sleep disorder such as sleep apnea (brief periods of pauses in breath or shallow breathing while asleep, which leads to low oxygen levels and daytime fatigue), restless leg syndrome (a compelling urge to move the legs or a creepy sensation in the legs that makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep), or narcolepsy (excessive and overwhelming daytime sleepiness despite adequate nighttime sleepiness). Your health-care provider will diagnose any underlying physical or mental condition contributing to your sleep problem, as well as identify behaviors that you may be engaged in that are disrupting your sleep and then develop a personal treatment plan.

This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF

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