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Sue Ann Says: Pursue Healthy Habits in the New Year

SAT HeadshotBy the time you read this article, you may have already broken your New Year’s Resolutions.  Did you plan to lose 10 pounds?  Or plan to exercise every weekday?  After consuming 14 holiday cookies at once, did you add fruit to your snack list?  You mean well, but somehow the resolutions aren’t sticking.  Don’t be discouraged.  I have learned that if I purposely set out to be healthy all year, I don’t have to set resolutions.  This month I have some creative ideas and expert advice to help you attain a positive mind and healthy body in 2014.  My guidelines include exercising, eating healthy, scheduling your doctor appointments and managing your stress.

Winter Weather Exercise
If cold weather makes you pack on the pounds, try these easy steps to stay fit.

  • Turn up the music and dance while you clean.
  • Find an exercise DVD that you enjoy and exercise to it in the morning.
  • Check your newspaper for local hospitals, churches or schools that offer inexpensive exercise classes. Join with a friend.
  • Climb the stairwell at work with a co-worker.
  • Turn off the computer and TV to find those spare minutes you need to exercise.

Don’t mind the cold Wisconsin weather?  Slip outside for some fresh air and joy!

  • Walk with a friend or your spouse/partner, but choose a new route each week.
  • Ask if you can walk the neighbor’s dog. Great exercise for you and a friendly neighbor gesture.
  • Try cross country skiing, snowshoeing or ice skating. Some towns have rental equipment available, or buy used equipment.
  • Play with your children or grandchildren in the snow. Walking up and down the hills while sledding will burn off cookie calories.

Eat Healthy to Stay Fit All Year
Registered Nurse Dawn Garcia from Eau Claire conveyed her best healthy eating suggestions to me. “Diet health is based upon a low fat diet, with a balance of lean meats/seafood, with lots of vegetables, fruits, and water.  The average diet has too many simple carbohydrates, sugars and salt, which are important areas to change.  Especially for women over 40, the diet should have servings of fish/seafood at least 2 times a week, choosing foods like salmon with high levels of Omega 3, to reduce heart health risks.  Five servings of vegetables are recommended per day, including leafy green vegetables, cabbage varieties, and tomatoes.”

“One other area specifically needed in women’s diets is calcium.  This can be found in low-fat milk, cheeses and yogurts.  Most women do not have dietary calcium sufficient to meet the recommended daily requirements, and should increase their dietary intake, or consider taking a supplement to preserve bone mass, and reduce the risk of fractures,” said Dawn.

Dr. Yasmine Subhi Ali, a cardiologist from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, shared her healthy eating advice.  “My advice to women to stay heart healthy in 2014 is to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  If you are overweight, aim to lose at least 5-10% of your current weight. Eating more veggies helps with this!”

Trudy Scott, a Food Mood Expert and Nutritionist from California works with women and their families about real whole foods.  Trudy said “Quality is the key when it comes to all the foods we consume and this includes animal protein such as red meat.  Opt for choices that are grass-fed and free of hormones and antibiotics, and humanely treated.  Grass-fed red meat contains amino acids, zinc, iron and good levels of omega-3s – all of which are so crucial for balancing brain chemicals – improving both anxiety and depression and reducing cravings.”

Plan Your Annual Physical Exams and Dental Appointments
RN Dawn Garcia recommends annual exams.  “The most important reason to see your doctor annually is to ensure that you’re participating in preventative health screening procedures that can identify a serious health problem early, before there is a serious health consequence or procedure needed.”
Appointments should include:

  • Annual health history
  • Physical exam
  • Recommended breast exams and mammography
  • Pelvic exams
  • Cancer screenings for women over 50 (colonoscopy)
  • Dental cleaning/exam every 6 months.

Lower Stress to Stay Healthy
“Stress ages our cells and causes immune system disorders,” explained Robert Lawrence Friedman, psychotherapist and author of the book How to Relax in 60 Seconds or Less (2010).  “Women who are nurturing need to learn to nurture themselves better.  You need to say, ‘I deserve joy.  I deserve to relax.’ Use the ‘Power of Slow’ to make a conscious effort to slow down.  Relaxation is about slowing down.  Slow down your breathing, walking or talking.”  Robert’s advice includes:

  • Fill your mind with positive thoughts. Create a series of relaxing images you can focus on with your mind.
  • Find someone to share with who supports you. Don’t emotionally isolate yourself.
  • Find gratitude in your life. Keep a journal full of positive thoughts and pictures.
  • Pick up a drum to get rid of internal stress and anger and build empowerment. Drumming together builds community. Besides it’s fun! (Healing Power of The Drum, 2000)

This New Year begin a fresh start by taking small steps every day to make yourself healthy.

Because it all begins with a healthy woman…

Sue Ann Thompson is founder and president of the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF), a statewide non-profit organization whose mission is to help Wisconsin women and their families reach their healthiest potential.  WWHF provides programs and conducts forums that focus on education, prevention, and early detection; connects individuals to health resources; produces and distributes the most up-to-date health education and resource materials; and, awards grants and scholarships to women health researchers and related community non-profits. To learn more, visit www.wwhf.org or call 800-448-5148.
 

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