Article by Alyssa Jung for WomensDay©
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1) Get a health check.
To boost your overall health, it’s important to know where you stand now. Make an appointment with or call your doctor for your latest health stats: weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, hemoglobin A1c (your average blood sugar over the past three months), etc. This will help you track your progress beyond the scale so you can see yourself getting healthier inside and out. If you have any underlying health issues, be sure to follow your doctor’s eating and exercise advice and check with them before starting the program.
2) Break a sweat.
This is key when it comes to losing inches, building muscle, and strengthening your heart, lungs, bones, and more. Aim to get in at least 10,000 steps a day and 150 minutes of physical activity a week (that’s what the government recommends). Keep things interesting by trying different types of exercises beyond walking and running — consider biking, swimming, jumping rope, lifting weights, dance workouts, and yoga.
3) Drink up.
There are great reasons to stay hydrated — including that it’ll help keep your digestive system humming and curb cravings. To calculate how much to guzzle daily, divide your body weight in half — that’s the number of ounces to shoot for. Avoid sugary beverages and instead choose plain H2O (jazz it up with fresh fruit or some fresh herbs), sparkling water, or unsweetened hot or iced tea. Love coffee? Drink it black or with low-fat milk or unsweetened nut milk and the sweeteners listed on the next slide.
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4) Eat your way healthy.
Knowing how to create a nutritionally balanced meals is key to adopting good-for-you eating habits that will last. To get you started, here’s some advice from Stefani Sassos, the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Build a better plate by filling it half with vegetables, one quarter with whole grains or fruit, and one quarter with lean protein for most meals. Need inspiration? Tape our Live Longer & Stronger shopping list, on the next slide, to your fridge for menu help.
Cook with olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter, and flavor your food sans salt by experimenting with things like lemon or lime juice, vinegar, spices and herbs, low-sodium tomato sauce, and lots of aromatics such as garlic, ginger, onions, and shallots.
When baking (or in your coffee), use just a little of a natural sweetener such as coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, or dates. If you choose to use an artificial sweetener, stick to stevia or monk fruit and limit your consumption to no more than two packets per day.
5) Your heart-healthy shopping list
The top grocery picks from Stefani Sassos, the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, include:
Fruit & Veggies: Artichokes, beets, cabbage, jicama, radishes, sugar snap peas, figs, kiwi, papaya, and plums (fresh or dried — a.k.a. prunes)
Dairy & Nondairy Alternatives: Unsweetened nut milk, skim milk, low-fat kefir, fat-free cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, or skyr, and low-fat cheeses
Lean Protein: Fish, eggs/egg whites, edamame, lean cuts of beef, shrimp or shellfish, skinless chicken breast, tofu, turkey breast or lean ground turkey, veggie burgers, and legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and beans
Nuts: Natural nut butters and unsalted nuts
Whole Grains: Brown rice, wild rice, black rice, quinoa, oats, whole-wheat bread or sprouted-grain bread products, 100-calorie sandwich things, low-sugar whole-grain cereals, whole-grain or seed crackers, and whole-wheat or legume-based pasta
6) Snooze & chill.
The right amount of zzz’s supports a strong heart and helps you get slim (or stay that way). Aim for seven to eight hours a night, and try to wake up and hit the sheets at the same times every day (even on weekends!) to keep your body’s internal clock happy. It’s also important to manage stress — over time, it can mess with your hormones and sabotage your weight goals. Find a chill routine: meditation, a hot soak, or a good read.