Living Fit: Top 10 little things that make a big impact on health

living-fit-buechler.jpgI am often asked, “What can I do to be healthier, more energetic, and lose weight?” Here are my Top 10. When you have them mastered, send me an email and I’ll give you the next 10.

1. Planks and pushups. Whether against your desk or on the floor. Do them daily, three times a day. Hold plank position for 20 seconds to begin. Increase by 10 seconds when that is no longer a challenge. Challenge your family and co-workers — how long can you hold this position? Do 10 push-ups to begin. Increase by 5 when that is no longer challenging. Push-ups against your desk, on your knees, or military style — all provide benefits.

2. Walk breaks. We sit a lot. Sitting has been termed the new smoking — it is a disease that is ruining our health. We weren’t made to sit or stand for long periods of time, but our lives have morphed us into those positions. Set your phone alarm to take a three- to five-minute walk every hour, even if it’s walking up and down the hallway at work. At lunch, walk 30 minutes. After work, walk another 30 minutes. If it’s too cold, wear a coat, hat and gloves. If it’s raining, bring an umbrella. If it’s sunny, relish the gift and walk longer.

3. Stretch. While seated at your desk, rotate your ankles, flex/point your feet, and do the figure 4-stretch (Google it). As you stand up to begin your hourly walk break, stretch your arms behind your back and try to clasp your hands together — be gentle. Reach your arms above your head and across your body. Make a few circles with your arms and rotate your wrists.

4. Portion control. For every meal. Your fist is the size of the carbs. Your palm is the size of the protein. Make an OK sign with your thumb and index finger, that’s a portion of monounsaturated fat (the “good fat”). Eat fruits and vegetables in abundance.

5. Basket of fruit. At home, put a basket of apples, pears, oranges, bananas, etc. on the counter in clear view, in the refrigerator, or in the pantry where you’ll want to look for the potato chips, which will no longer be there. At work, have a basket of fruit on your desk with a money donation jar next to it instead of the bowl of candy. You might be surprised at the number of co-workers who stop by and contribute to the cause.

6. Bowl of salad. On the weekend, prepare a bowl of leafy greens and add the veggies you love —venture into the produce section of the store (the first place you see when you walk in) and spend quality time perusing the wonderful opportunities that await. If you aren’t likely to spend the time to cut it up, buy it pre-cut/pre-washed or get a vegetable tray.

7. Crockpot chicken. Easy recipe: 6 chicken breasts, 1 package taco seasoning, 16-ounce jar salsa. Place all in slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours on low-medium heat. Voila! Make burritos, BBQ sandwiches, top off your salad or pasta … so many options.

8. Air-popped popcorn. If you don’t have one of these amazing poppers, get one now! Air-popped popcorn is a healthy, filling snack and curbs that urge to eat a bag of potato chips. While it’s popping, spray it with butter spray and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and other spices, to your liking. I vary the taste with chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion granules, etc.

9. Water. Drink it in abundance, at least half of your body weight in ounces. If you drink alcohol or exercise (both cause dehydration), add a few more glasses of water to your day. Keep a glass at your desk and a bottle in your car. You will be surprised by the amount you drink and amazed at how much better you feel.

10. Laugh. There are days that I don’t hear any laughter in the office. I know that is true of your workplace, too. We are focused, stressed, serious, “Type-A” people. We bring it home with us. If you listen to the news reports, more reason to laugh or just smile. Instead of listening to the news on the way to/from work, download a comedy station on your music App (such as Pandora or Spotify). Laugh at yourself and be happy for your imperfections — you’re human, join the group. Search for situations that will bring a smile to your face, if only you’d look for them. Wipe off the grumpy face. Say something genuinely nice to a co-worker or stranger. If you can’t think of something nice to say, just smile and say, “Good morning, have a great day!” It obviously will put a smile on the recipient’s face, and yours as well.

Enjoy a happy, healthy, laughter-filled spring!•


Sharon Buechler is an attorney with Riley Bennett Egloff LLP and a certified personal trainer, health fitness specialist, and life and wellness coach. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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