First Steps To Improving Your Health

Think small! List the behaviors in your life that you’d like to change, decide which one to tackle first and develop a plan for just that one. I know your thinking, “Mark, I’m all in! I’m going to hit the gym, eat healthy, go to bed early and get up early, volunteer like I’ve always wanted to do,  and…………….”

I appreciate your enthusiasm but slowly integrating healthy changes improves your chances for long term success.  Tackling one issue at a time you’ll stay motivated, avoid being overwhelmed and see positive changes. Don’t know where to start here’s a few of suggestions and some info on why these should be on your list.

  1. Make sleep a priority
  • The Centers for Disease Control reports 1/3 of Americans don’t get enough sleep and recently listed it as major health problem.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation increases your risk of developing Type II diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Obesity, Stroke, Depression and suppresses immune system function making you more susceptible to whatever illness is making the rounds.
  • Pick a bed time and stick to it. In the beginning you’ll have to let some things go but with your new-found energy you’ll feel better and be surprised at what you can complete when you’re awake.

 

  1. Look at your diet and make sure your making the right food choices
  • Eat real food—if you have to consult a chemist to find out what the ingredients are put it back.
  • Carbohydrate rich, highly processed foods aren’t on the menu. Avoid added sugar, vegetables high in starch, flour and cereal grains.
  • What meal is your biggest struggle? I love breakfast but by the time I get everyone in the house up and moving in the morning preparing a good breakfast is tough. Try a protein shake! Mix milk, frozen strawberries, a scoop of protein powder, one tablespoon of peanut butter and powder in a blender for one-two minutes and your done.
  • Fill your plate and lunch box with veggies, high fiber carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean cuts of meat. Here’s a quick and easy recipe to get you started, it’s my go to lunch

Ingredients
-2 cups broccoli
-handful of baby carrots
-handful of grape tomatoes
-small handful of reduced sugar craisins
-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette
-1/2 cup of chopped pecans, sunflower seeds and almonds (walnuts work to! )
-1/2 an avocado (cubed)

Directions
1. Pour 1 cup each of pecans, almonds and sunflower seeds into your blender
2. Add a small handful of craisins and dollop of balsamic vinaigrette
3. Blend at high speed for 2-3 minutes make sure you stop a couple of times to
move things around so everything gets chopped up
4. Add a 1/2 a cup of this to the ingredients listed above and your done.
5. Refrigerate the rest for later meals.

 

3. Schedule a physical with your physician and find out what your health risks are. 

  • We all have behaviors in life that negatively affect our health. But, we’re on auto-pilot. Work and family responsibilities cause us to put our health on the back burner. We rationalize. “Hey I’ve haven’t put on that much weight or I eat pretty good.” Objective measurements and risk quantification can spark real change.

 

  •  For example, a couple of years ago I had my yearly physical and was expecting stellar results. “Hey I eat right and exercise how could I not be healthy?” When I met with my doctor both my fasting blood glucose and A1C were elevated putting my in the pre-diabetic category. Initially, I was stunned! I drove home angry and in disbelief. However the bottom line was, I wasn’t as healthy as I led myself to believe. After I accepted this (begrudgingly); I made a list of my behaviors/signs that could cause these results.

 

My list looked like this

  1. Sleep—5-6 hours a night during the week then sleeping weekend away
  2. Diet: Eating way to many starchy carbs, sweet tooth out of control
  3. Not managing my stress well
  4. My waist circumference had increased substantially to 39 inches (or more)

 YIKES! No wonder my levels were elevated! My first goal was to start going to bed earlier. In just a couple of weeks I was amazed at how good I felt with adequate sleep. I was so use to being tired that I had forgotten what it felt like to be well rested. Well it’s been couple of years now and thanks to slowly integrating changes and really watching my health my numbers have returned back to normal.

You can change, it’s not easy. It takes a plan, patience and perseverance. But don’t worry I’m here to help! This is my first (of many) blog posts. In the future in addition to written posts you’ll have access to videos on exercise, stress management and cooking to help you make real, sustainable changes in your life and improve your health! In the meantime, if you have any questions about how you can implement change comment on my blog below or send me an email at mkaelin@bellarmine.edu

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