Wellness is about making the right choices to live a long, healthy, happy life. Taking care of the mind and body can not only improve mood and energy, but can help you achieve optimum health. For more wellness tips, read our weekly blog, like us on Facebook and follow our healthy Pinterest boards. Visit one of our providers to create the best wellness plan for you.
Know and improve your BMI (Body Mass Index), which can give you one indicator of your health and work toward lowering it with a diet and exercise plan. Handy calculator here.
Reduce sugar intake. Many Americans begin and end their day with sugar. Sugared cereal, coffee and donuts to start and then a sugary dessert or bedtime snack to end it, which is why our diabetic rates are so high and more and more children are getting diabetes. Switching our thinking from sugar as a staple to sugar as a once-in-a-while treat could help us cut down on sugar consumption. 23 tips from Reader’s Digest here.
Reduce salt/sodium intake. (And be aware of what salt/sodium is in your food, especially frozen (processed) and fast food.) American Heart Association recommends less than 150 mg per day. Tips here.
Stand more. Use the StandApp to remind you to stand more frequently and take a short walk or do office yoga exercises to keep your blood moving and muscles working. Or buy a standing desk. (I use my bar-height kitchen table during the day since I work from home.) Or you could get this Ninja portable standing desk.
Skip the fast food. Is the fast food drive thru a habit? Begin by limiting your trips to fast food establishments and consider weaning yourself from fast food entirely or only give yourself one indulgence meal at fast food a week.
Pack your lunch. Bringing your own lunch ensures you have more control over your lunch options and portion size. Tips from Web MD on packing healthy lunches for grown ups.
Reduce the “white stuff”. We mean carbs. Instead of white bread, potatoes and rice, opt for wheat or green veggies instead. Again, give yourself an indulgence day, such as “only whites on weekends” to help limit intake. Tips from fitday.com.
Walk every day. Walk more. A brisk walk each day can become a workout. Strive for twenty minutes, but even ten minutes is better than none. And park far away and take the stairs. Those little things add up. Learn how at WebMD.
Try meditation. Wellness also includes the mind and many studies have been done on the health benefits of meditation and how it actually changes brain patterns. I didn’t think I could sit still, either, but it’s not about NO THOUGHTS but about watching them float by and finding stillness. Not only that, it increased my creativity, productivity and sense of peace this year. Here’s 100 benefits (!!!) and here’s a primer on getting started.
Do yoga. Let’s see, yoga has been around for 5,000 years. Not only has it stood the test of time, but it’s a great way for writers to bring our bodies back to life. Improving stretching, flexibility, balance and muscle tone – as well as the benefits to the mind – make it a clear winner for writers who sit most of the day. You can try it at home or find a local class, but we recommend doing at least some yoga DAILY. Health benefits here. Primer here. Again, talk to your doctor about your specific situation and don’t go for the crazy moves until (if ever) you are ready. I’m still at basic and feel great.
Make healthier meals at home. Making the same bad-for-you food can be a hard habit to break. Let’s break out of the rut and get some ideas for healthier meal options at home. If you have favorites, please send us a link and we’ll include it in our Writer Wellness Wednesday posts. Lots of great Pinterest boards on healthy recipes and you can get more ideas at all recipes.com.
Control portion size. If you’re out and have to do drive-thru, consider ordering ONE less than you usually do or a burger and skip the soda and fries or order the kids’ meal instead of the big one. At home, start making less food (less to waste and throw away) and try using smaller plates. A great mind trick. Drink water with your meal to help fill you up and stop eating BEFORE YOU GET FULL. Ask for a to-go box at the restaurant and put half of your meal in it. And many fast food restaurants do have healthier options – you just have to choose them.
Eat more fruits and veggies. This is one of the easiest things to become habit. Buy more of them at the store, experiment with new fruits and veggies, try different ways of cooking them (steam versus fry for example) and remember research shows canned veggies can be just as good for you as the frozen. (Just pick low or no sodium options.) And SKIP the salt and butter.
Eat more power foods. Power foods are rich in nutrients and therefore are easy for the body to use immediately. I’ve found many on this list are easy to incorporate in daily and weekly diet. Bananas, almonds, flaxseed and tuna. Easy! Full list of power foods here.
Switch to healthy snacking. Got the munchies? Use these tips to keep yourself from nose-diving into a bag of potato chips by keeping healthy snack options handy. (I keep almonds in my purse.) SELF gives us ideas for those salty, sweet cravings we have and how we can choose wisely.
Switch from soda to water, tea or coffee. Soda may be the new cigarette and more anti-soda sentiment will be popping up as our obesity rate continues to sky-rocket in adults and children. I was a diet Coke addict for 17 years. I had no idea even the diet stuff made us fatter and there is nothing good about that syrup. I’ve been off of it for 7 years and now only indulge in a Dr. Pepper on rare occasions. It *is* possible. And I finally lost belly fat when I gave up the diet colas. Reducing or limiting your soda intake is a quick route to weight loss. Two articles on weaning yourself from Shape and ehow. (And if you like carbonation, I recommend sodastream. You can add syrups to control the amount and we like it with fruit juice.) If your problem is adding sugar to drinks, it will be hard, but stick to it each day and you can do it. (Dr. Oz says it takes 7 times to get used to a new food/drink, but I say keep up with it longer than that. (It took about 30 days for me to completely eliminate sugar from my morning coffee.)
Stop smoking. That one seems so obvious, but even though research has been available for decades, people still get addicted and have a hard time quitting, so if that’s you, 2013 is your year! This one is close to my heart as both of my grandparents who raised me died of smoking-related diseases. Please quit for yourself and your loved ones. You DO NOT want lung cancer or heart disease and your loved ones do not want to see your suffer, either. Quitting tips from the American Lung Association here.
Limit the junk food in the house. Of course that means “don’t buy it in the first place.” If we truly want to cut down on sugar, salt, processed food, sodas and so on, it’s important not to buy them in the store. Many parents may say, “but the kids want it.” But do they need it all the time or could it be a treat you go out and buy once in awhile? To avoid the temptation, we have to avoid the purchase. Alternatively, to eat more fruits and veggies, we’d need to buy them. Get to know and love your produce aisle. And as parents it’s our job to role model a healthy lifestyle.
Add physical exercise to your weekly routine. In addition to walking, consider adding another exercise that gets your heart-rate up such as dance, an aerobics class, biking, hiking or swimming. You might be wiser to do them at a gym or outside than investing in at-home equipment that becomes a laundry hanger. (If you love to dance, I recommend Zumba. It’s for all ages and fitness levels.)
Take your vitamins. While some research differs on the importance of a daily multi-vitamin to supplement your nutrition, it’s important to know if you are deficient and many primary care docs recommend not only a multi, but also extra D and an Omega 3 (fish oil.) We opt for taking them. Here’s an article from Men’s Health on vites for guys and here’s one on Web MD on important vitamins for women.
Get plenty of sleep. We simply can’t live well without the right amount of sleep and most Americans get far less than the recommended 7-8 hours per night required. Our bodies and brains do miraculous things when we’re sleeping. Read the Value of Sleep with Dr. Oz on Oprah. No, not sleeping *with* Dr. Oz.
Schedule – and stick to – “me” time. Doing something you love requires a commitment because it’s often the first thing to sacrifice when life gets busy. (And when is it not busy?) So call and schedule those lunches with friends, that pottery class, that romantic vacation, that spa day and reconnect body, mind and spirit.
Practice the present moment. Living in the present and mindfulness sounds like it should be easy, but most of us live in our heads which have a whole different story than the one playing out in real life. We’re doing one thing, but thinking another. We ruminate about the past or the future. We give in to fear and anxiety. And since writers are creating those stories in our minds, it’s even harder for us to be present in whatever activity we are in. Yet it provides profound transformation when we are present with our loved ones, co-workers and giving our actions undivided attention. This isn’t a goal that’s a once per week, it’s a conscious every moment action. If you like getting reminders in your inbox, Eckhart Tolle has a free present moment email subscription. Articles on the present moment here and quotes here.
Read more. This, too might sound obvious for writers, but many spend so much time writing that they don’t take time to read for pleasure. Reading has been shown to reduce stress, bring enjoyment and increase empathy. Books, too, can help us with our wellness journey with titles on diet, exercise, spirituality and more.
Get outside more. Spending time outside has health benefits. And as writers we spend too much time cooped up inside as it is. Let’s get out and explore nature. Time to hit the beach or go “forest bathing.” The Japanese knew that shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” Don’t forget your sunscreen! Articles from Oprah and from the National Wildlife Federation that could help us get out more with our kids.
Smile more. While the new year typically brings a rash of “acts of kindness,” wouldn’t it be nice if we incorporated that into our daily lives? A philosophy? Many writers may be introverts, but no matter our personality, we can find a way to bring a generous spirit to our interactions, using kind words and smiling more. Did you know if you smile at someone they very likely will smile back? It’s such small act, but can change our disposition for the rest of the day and they pay that forward. Isn’t it interesting that so many people complain that we live in a cruel world, but don’t take note of our personal contribution to it? Loving kindness begins with us.