With the holiday season coming to an end, chances are you're starting to think about those New Year's resolutions. And like most people, yours probably includes a desire to be healthier. Here are 11 lifestyle changes you can make today.
Being overweight is a major health risk factor, and extra weight around the abdomen is usually of great concern. A woman’s waist circumference should be no more than 34 inches; a man’s no greater than 40 inches. If your waist measurement exceeds those guidelines, it’s time to start a weight loss program. Join Torrance Memorial’s Scale Down program. A 14-week, comprehensive fast-track program, designed for men and women with at least 20 pounds to lose.
How much you eat is almost as important as what you eat. For example, a healthy serving of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of a deck of cards. A reasonably sized potato? Think computer mouse. What’s more, most American eat their smallest meal in the morning and the largest at night. Try doing the opposite, so you can burn off your biggest meal with more activity throughout the day.
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings a week of fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, which clinical studies have linked to reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease. Salmon, albacore tuna, lake trout, mackerel and herring are all high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Don’t Skip Meals
One of the best ways to maintain or lose weight is to eat five to six smaller meals a day – and not miss meals. If you only eat once a day, between meals your body thinks it’s being starved, so it will absorb more calories and hold on to them more tightly once you do eat.
Pile on the Fruit and Veggies
A diet rich in fruits and vegetable help prevent heart disease, especially green leafy vegetables and fruit and vegetables containing high amounts of vitamin C.
Attend a Screening
High Blood pressure and high cholesterol are known risk factors for heart disease. Get screened for these and other conditions are recommended by your doctor – especially if you have family history of heart disease, which puts you at greater risk.
Face Facts About Facts
Limit trans fats – found in foods such as vegetable shortenings, cookies and snack foods – to less than 1 percent of you daily caloric intake. Also, avoid fats that come in solid form in the dairy case, such as margarine or shortening; opt instead for monounsaturated fats, including olive oil, canola oil or sesame oil. Limit foods high in saturated fat – such as pork, beef and traditional dairy products – to 7 percent of your daily caloric intake.
Make Smart Substitutions
Prepare food in the healthiest manner possible. With any type of meat you’re cooking, grilling is better than baking, which is better than frying. Other clever cooking replacements include using low-fat or fat-free milk instead of whole milk and two egg whites instead of one egg in recipes.
Find a physical activity you enjoy and can stick with – or better yet, come up with a variety things you like to do to avoid boredom and burnout. Whatever exercise you choose, aim for 30 minutes a day most days of the week for maximum cardiovascular benefits; move briskly enough to raise your heart rate for sustained time.
Kick the Habit or Don’t Start
Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart diseases, says the American Heart Association. Quitting isn’t easy, but various smoking cessation programs and support tools are available – for example, check out the American Lung Association’s website at lungusa.org.
Take a ‘You’ Break
Stress in one of the top four risk factors for heart disease. To manage stress, set aside one hour a day for yourself. Do whatever you enjoy. What matters most is that it’s your time, when you can put aside the sources of stress in your life.