March is almost here, and it’s time to spring into action! For me, the green buds on once bare trees and the first few notes of a returning robin’s song remind me that spring—a time for birth and renewal—is right around the corner. The revitalization of our natural surroundings inspires me to commit to my own “reawakening” of sorts, which often means bringing renewed attention to my health. I encourage you to do the same, knowing it may seem difficult to do.
Many of us already feel too overwhelmed by life’s hectic schedule to add anything else to our plate. But, finding ways to improve your health doesn’t have to occur overnight, nor does it require a complete overhaul. Simple changes to diet and lifestyle can have a profound impact on energy, sleep, mood, libido, weight and overall well-being. And, by gradually modifying your daily activities and food intake, you’re more likely to establish healthy habits that yield lasting results. Whether your goal is to slim down, increase your energy, avoid illness or simply improve your quality of life, consider implementing some of my ways to improve your health and put that ‘spring’ back into your step and ensure that the coming season is one of personal renewal.
1. Swap steak for salmon.
In place of red meat (beef, pork and lamb), eat salmon twice a week. This fatty fish is high in omega 3 fats, an essential fatty acid that may lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and inflammatory conditions such as eczema, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Choose fresh or frozen fillets or my favorite, Wild Planet canned Pacific Sockeye Salmon. Simply pop the top, drain and add it to your salad, eggs or cottage cheese for a healthy, protein dense meal.
2. Replace fruit yogurt with plain Greek yogurt.
As women age, we need more calcium and protein in our diets to help slow the progression of bone and muscle loss. Greek yogurt is a wonderful source of these nutrients, but the fruited varieties often contain as much as 4-7 added teaspoons of sugar, which can wreak havoc on our energy, weight, cravings and mood. Forgo flavored yogurt and choose plain Greek yogurt instead. Top it off with fresh or frozen fruit and a tablespoon of chia seeds, and you’ll have a more balanced meal that will keep you satisfied until lunch.
3. Choose fresh fruit instead of juice.
Most juices contain little or no fiber and far too much sugar. Drink a 16-ounce bottle of a commercially sold “healthy” juice and you’re consuming the equivalent of 10-13 teaspoons of sugar. Choose a piece of fruit instead. You’ll cut calories and sugar and get some much needed fiber along the way. The additional roughage will support your digestive tract while balancing your insulin levels, keeping cravings at bay and energy levels stable.
4. Switch from sandwiches to salads.
Our metabolism slows as we age, so our caloric intake should decrease as well. Unfortunately, our nutritional needs increase, making it ever so important to eat low calorie, nutrient dense food. Swap your sandwich at lunch for an entrée size salad. Your waistline and blood pressure will thank you. Bread is often high in calories and sodium. Start with a bed of dark leafy greens, add plenty of grilled, steamed or raw non-starchy, colorful veggies, a lean source of protein (beans, seafood, chicken, hard-boiled eggs or low-fat cottage cheese) and a little healthy fat (avocado, a sprinkling of nuts or seeds, or a teaspoon of olive oil). Avoid the croutons, crumbles of cheese, dried fruit and dressings that can add loads of salt, sugar, unhealthy fat and calories. Add flavor by including fresh fruit or a dollop of hummus, salsa or tabbouleh. For dressing, keep it simple—try fresh lemon juice and vinegar.
5. Buy a pedometer and increase your steps.
Exercise is the true fountain of youth for ways to improve your health. There’s no pill or injection required. But you don’t have to spend hours at the gym each day to reap its benefits. Simply staying active can go a long way toward maintaining weight, improving mood, relieving arthritic pain and reducing the risk of chronic disease. The American Heart Association recommends taking 10,000 steps a day. Wear a pedometer or get a fitness tracker such as a Fitbit, Jawbone Up, or Nike Fuel Band to track your steps. Studies show using these devices will likely increase your activity by 27%. To add movement to your day, meet a friend for a walk instead of lunch, pace while you’re on the phone, take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator, walk around the house during TV commercials or set aside time to walk 9 holes of golf, play tennis, take a fitness class or get to the gym. Remember, some exercise is good, more is better, and everything counts, so keep moving implementing these ways to improve your health!
This article is for informational purposes only, is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is not a substitute for medical advice.