Start the Year Off Right with Good Eating Habits and Regular Exercise

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or exercise more? If you did, chances are you didn’t stick to them. Studies show the majority of people abandon their resolutions by the end of January. If that’s you, don’t worry. You don’t need it to be Jan. 1 to improve your eating habits and start a regular exercise routine. It’s something you can start at any time – even today. The key is to make the decision to get healthy and then make the necessary changes to follow through.

Getting healthy is a two-step process: You have to eat well and exercise to lose weight and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Here are some simple changes to improve your overall health:

Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Aim to eat two to three servings of vegetables and one to two servings of fruits daily. Most of us fail to reach this goal.

  • Swap out white bread and pasta and replace them with whole grains.

  • Replace high-fat dairy products with low-fat ones.

  • Limit your intake of sugar. Most of us eat way too much sugar.

  • Eat more turkey, fish, and chicken and fewer servings of red meat, which are high in saturated fat.

  • Swap water for soda. Carbonated beverages are empty calories and provide no nutritional benefit.

  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Even a simple walk can do wonders for your health. The key is to get and stay moving. Exercise not only improves your cardiovascular health and burns off calories, it also strengthens your bones and improve your emotional health.

  • Get enough sleep. OK, this doesn’t have to do with food or exercise, but getting enough sleep is integral to your overall health since it’s more difficult to make healthy choices when you’re tired. Get at least seven or eight hours of sleep a night.

Making a few changes to your diet and starting a daily exercise program can do wonders for your health. It’s sometimes difficult to make these changes, but keep at it – it took years to develop unhealthy habits and it will take time to develop healthy habits.

Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner and associate medical director at ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert. He can be reached at scott.schuldes@thedacare.org.