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Living Fit: 10 changes that make big strides for better health

October 21, 2015

mcgoffAs an attorney, health coach, personal trainer and mother of a teenage boy, I’ve heard every excuse in the book about why something didn’t get done, including a new one I heard just today from a health coaching client who wants to lose weight: “I’m up a pound today because I took a big gulp of water to wash down a large vitamin before I got on the scale.” Seriously, this was someone’s reason for weighing more this week than last week.

We all know that frequent dining out and eating junk food, sweets and soda several times a day leads to increased weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc., all of which lead to an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. To add insult to injury, we lead mostly sedentary and stressful lives. I’ve heard every reason as to why you can’t eat healthy, exercise or get more sleep. I’ve used them, too. It simply is not feasible in our busy lives.

Quite the contrary, it is feasible and fairly simple to make a few small changes to enjoy a healthier body. If you take these steps, you will lose weight and feel energetic. Even if you just choose one of them, your health will improve over what it is today. No more excuses!

1. Buy a vegetable tray. A major excuse for not eating vegetables is because it takes too much time to cut them up or they go bad before you can cut them up. Spend $10 on the tray, eat them raw or steam them in the microwave for a minute with low-fat balsamic vinegar dressing, low-salt soy sauce or no-salt seasoning. Enjoy them as a crunchy snack instead of chips and take them with you for lunch.

2. Buy a fruit tray. Again, the excuse for not eating fruit is because it takes too much time to cut it up. Get your 4-5 servings a day.

3. Make a large bowl of salad for the week. Add pre-washed, bagged salad, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage and vegetables from your veggie tray. Cover it with a paper towel to absorb the moisture so it doesn’t get soggy throughout the week and you will enjoy hassle-free salad every night of the week. (The best day to pre-prep food for most of us is Sunday – can even be done during commercials or time outs while watching football).

4. Make Crockpot chicken tacos on Sunday. Add six chicken breasts, a package of reduced sodium taco seasoning and a 16oz. jar of salsa to a Crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Use it for tacos, burritos, a salad, a baked potato or add BBQ sauce and make a sandwich.

5. Keep healthy snacks nearby. If you’re hungry and there’s nothing healthy nearby, you are likely to eat the nearest junk you can find. Instead, keep a stash of healthy foods in your desk, glove box and brief case.

6. Drink water. It is great for energy, weight loss and your skin. We have become accustomed to needing some type of “flavor” for our beverages. This is not how most of us were raised, yet we have gravitated toward this bad habit. Reacquaint yourself with the refreshing taste of easily accessible water.

7. Start and end every day with stretches

a. Bring knees to your chest and rock side to side.

b. Stretch out arms and legs and take a deep breath.

c. Clasp hands together and reach up to the ceiling.

d. Roll to the side and push up out of bed.

e. Perform a few Sun Salutations. Search YouTube for “how to” videos for beginners.

8. Get your heart pumping

a. March in place 10 times, moving arms.

b. Stand in front of bed, facing away from it, and squat down so that your fanny meets the mattress and then stand up, repeat five times.

c. Stand in front of bed, facing bed, and place hands on mattress and feet far enough away so you can do pushups, 10 times.

Easy enough to incorporate into your day on the way to the shower, at work before lunch and before you leave the office.

9. Sleep. One of the best ways to ensure a healthy life is to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. The evidence on this is irrefutable. In order to ensure enough sleep, simply set a timer on your watch to go off 45 minutes, 30 minutes and 15 minutes before you want to be in bed (My watch timer is going off right now as I type this article – seriously – better finish these last few thoughts quickly!). The goal by the “15 minutes to go” alarm is to be brushed up and in your PJ’s, getting ready to settle down and do the “good night” stretches. You can afford a running watch with 3 alarms.

10. Worries. Quality sleep is the foundation of how your next day will flow. If you sleep well, chances are very good that you will be productive, make sound decisions, have willpower to avoid tempting food/drink and feel energetic. If you sleep just a few hours, most of which are restless, you will drag through your day in a fog, likely making poor decisions about your work and personal life, in a grouchy mood and without energy, craving sweets and caffeine to fuel you through to the end of the day. Face it, you are not going to solve your problems in the middle of the night as you lie in bed aggravated that you can’t fall asleep. Instead, simply leave your worries and stressors by the garage door, tell them you’ll be back to pick them up in the morning on your way out the door, crawl into your cozy bed and sleep like you did as a kid – not a care in the world! Doesn’t that sound great? We all have doors that lead to the outside.

If these tips were helpful to you, sign up for the upcoming CLE, “Finding Time to Exercise and Reduce Stress” at the Indiana State Bar Association’s website, http://www.inbar.org. No excuses!•

Sharon McGoff is a graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a certified life and wellness coach with WellCoaches Inc. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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