Little Changes Can Have Big Impact on Your Health
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
As we age, our bodies need more attention to stay fit. Most of us get busy, and our health becomes a casualty of a long “To Do” list and limited time. It happens. You can’t miss your work event, your child’s project has to be done, your family wants dinner and the laundry doesn’t wash itself. So, what do you do? You skip a workout, opt for a quick unhealthy meal. Before you know it, these exceptions become the routine.
You know the choices you make today impact your long-term health, so you decide to get healthy. You jump into an exercise program and declare you are only going to eat healthy. Then a few days in, your body is so sore you can’t get out of bed, and you really want a pizza instead of cooking a fresh, healthy dinner, and you slip back into your old habits.
How can you break this cycle? “Start small. It is much easier to incorporate little changes one at a time as you work towards healthy habits,” said Avheet Hira, M.D., board-certified psychiatrist for Genesis Behavioral Health.
Tips for making healthy changes
1. Set short- and long-term goals. According to a study from researchers at Chicago Booth, immediate rewards for short-term goals are key motivators for staying on course to achieve long-term goals.
2. Start easy and increase exercise over time. We are not quoting studies on this one, just experience. If you jump right into a hard workout and cannot finish it, you can deflate your motivation. More importantly, you can easily hurt yourself. Take your time and increase workouts as your body grows stronger. Plus, running longer or lifting more as your workout builds will boost your confidence and motivation.
3. Replace one unhealthy item in your diet at a time. This could be drinking water instead of a soda. Having an apple instead of a candy bar. Or replacing takeout with a healthy home-cooked meal. Wonder how much of a difference it can make? Replacing one can of Coke a day with water will save you over 50,000 calories in one year.
4. Celebrate milestones. Staying fit takes work and deserves occasional rewards. If ice cream is your go-to snack, and you give it up for a month, treat yourself to a movie or something else you enjoy.
When you are ready to get healthy, talk to your doctor before starting your exercise routine to make sure it is safe.