What can I do to stay healthy?

Diet, rest and exercise are the three pillars of good health. Staying healthy is about getting back to the basics.

Diet: Keep your diet simple. Except for special occasions, cook at home rather than eating out. Cook from scratch rather than preparing ready-made meals. Eat fresh foods rather than processed. Fresh foods are: fresh fruits and vegetables, prepared raw or lightly cooked; fresh lean meats and fish, as opposed to processed lunch meats, hot dogs, or prepared burgers, canned hams etc; whole grains/seeds; rice, millet, bulgar, oatmeal, quinoa, etc. 

Shop the outside aisles of the grocery store and go to Farmers Markets. Fresh, minimally processed foods are found on the outer edges of the store—produce, meats and dairy—while the heavily processed snack foods are found in the center aisles. Don't buy snack foods and don't keep them in your house. Instead keep fresh fruits and vegetables readily available and serve them with light dressings or healthy dips like humus or fresh guacamole. Instead of chips and crackers eat dry roasted nuts and seeds.

Do not shop while hungry!

Avoid sugary sodas, juice and sports drinks. Drink lots of water, and for variety turn to unsweetened teas, or water with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Rest: Sleep! Aim to get 8 hours of sleep per night. We need sleep to stay energized, healthy and strong. Sleep is a great stress reducer. Many of us stay up late thinking that we'll get more done. The truth is we're often just procrastinating. Getting a good night sleep will allow us to be more productive the following day and does wonders for our health. 

Sleep is not the only rest. Take time to read a book, play with your kids, and spend time with friends or family. Make time to do the things you love. This can be anything that rejuvenates you and leaves you feeling content or refreshed. Restorative activities reduce stress and create happiness, which adds longevity to your life.

Exercise: You do not need to be an athlete to exercise. Short walks around the block, to the store, to school and to the movies all count as exercise. The important thing is staying active, incorporating movement into your daily life and spending more time standing and moving about, and less time sitting.

Exercise should be fun. Get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Bicycling, swimming, walking, running, biking, hiking, are all enjoyable forms of exercise that allow you to enjoy the outdoors while staying fit.

Joan Roth, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Staying healthy is as much a state of mind as it a condition of the body.  Having a positive attitude towards life and consistently making smart choices as they relate to eating, drinking and activity, play a huge role in staying healthy.  Being accountable for your actions and decisions also helps you live a healthy life because you'll maintain a keen awareness of what is happening around yourself.

Eating right and exercising regularly directly contribute to one’s well being and ultimately, staying healthy by being more resilient to injury and illness. Get your mind right and the body will follow.

Julie DuBois, NASM Elite Trainer, RD
Administration Specialist

In order to stay healthy, you need to live an active and aware lifestyle. This means getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, eating a well balanced diet, and try and reduce stress in your lifestyle. Becoming more active will help with stress levels and eating a well balanced diet will help keep you healthy. 

There are many things you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis, including incorporating more spontaneous physical activity, making relatively good food choices consistently, and finding better ways to manage daily stress.

Incorporating spontaneous physical activity is incredibly important because the increases and advancements in technology and automation have created a convenience that doesn't demand much movement. You can do things to combat our automated culture such as park farther away from your destination, make multiple trips to complete a task (laundry, putting groceries away, cleaning, etc.), take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, conduct walking or standing meetings, incorporate movement during television commercials, and use restrooms farther away from your office.

Making better food choices consistently will not only help you incorporate a healthy lifestyle, it can also potentially reduce your cravings. If you are too strict on your meal plan when nutrition isn't your strong suit, you potentially put yourself at risk for drastic inconsistency in food choices and bigger cravings. Some examples of making better food choices include drinking water or low calorie juices instead of regular soft drinks, eating half of what is served to you at a restaurant and put the rest in a to-go box, avoiding appetizers or restaurants with chips or bread served ahead of time, requesting salad dressing on the side, incorporating vegetables as a side instead of starches high in fat, and eating fruit and light Cool Whip for dessert rather than cookies and cakes.

In order to manage daily stress better in your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, incorporate stress coping skills, time management, adequate rest time, and leisure activities that allow for down time.

Katie Davis
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Dieting is not the way to go—it is not lasting and will not bring overall happiness and health. What is most important is assessing and addressing your relationship with food. Why do you choose to eat or not eat? How does food feel inside your body? How do you feel about your own body and yourself as a whole? All of these questions are important to your overall health—not just your body's health, but your mind and spirit as well.

Dr. Sheri D. Pruitt
Psychology Specialist

These fast and easy exercises will help you increase your motivation levels. They can be done any time you feel your motivation slipping. Doing them from time to time will help you stay motivated:

  • Forecasting your future: What if you aren't sure you are motivated enough to make a change? Stop for a moment and think about your future. If you don't change your health habits, will you still be here 5 years from now? Will you be able to work, go on vacation, and enjoy life? Will you be able to do the things you want to do? Your future and your ability to function in that future are determined in large part by what you do today, tomorrow, and the next day. Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers:

What health behavior are you most likely to change?

  • What made you select this particular behavior?
  • How would you feel if you were to make this change?
  • What else would be different about you?
  • What behavior have you been able to change in the past?

Next, imagine yourself 5 years from now:

  • If my behavior stays the same, I will feel…
  • If I keep doing exactly what I am doing now, I will look…
  • If I don't change a thing, my health will be…

Imagine your loved ones 5 years from now:

  • If my behavior stays the same, it will affect my loved ones by…
  • If my behavior stays the same, my loved ones may react by…

By taking the time to answer these questions, you will be reminded of why you set out to make changes in the first place. Simple as it seems, this little reminder can really boost your level of motivation.

Living SMART: Five Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever

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Here are some easy tips and tricks to help you stay healthy:

  • When running errands, try to park as far away as you can to get some more steps in and stay active throughout the day. Every extra step counts!
  • Hand washing is the best and most effective way to prevent spreading germs and infections. Make sure to wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, and after being in public areas such as on a plane, train, or taxi.
  • A healthy diet and regular exercise three days a week are the best ways to keep yourself healthy and energized. How you treat yourself and what you put into your body should be your top priority so make time to take care of yourself.
  • When grocery shopping, the best foods to buy are located around the edges of the supermarket. The more fruits, veggies, and fresh items you buy the better. Try to stay away from processed and canned foods that are high in sodium.
  • Preventive medicine is the most important medicine. It is much better to help prevent disease from occurring than have to treat the disease later on. Annual visits to your primary care doctor can help with a preventive approach to medicine by defining and minimizing disease risk factors.
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Administration Specialist

The following can be adopted to stay healthy:

  • Focus on a healthy diet, not dieting. Dieting implies deprivation. Instead, you need to adopt lasting ways to meet the needs of your changing body.
  • Learn to tune in to your body's cues. Paying attention to what you feel can help you learn to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
  • Increase exercise and movement. Add short periods of activity to your day.
  • Make small changes in your diet, like substituting a whole-grain cereal for processed breakfast cereal or tofu or beans for red meat in a main dish.
  • Don't let your weight determine your self-esteem. The number on the scale tells you one thing: how much you weigh. It says nothing about your value as a person or your chances of happiness.
  • Aim for healthy habits—choosing healthy foods and exercising regularly—and let your weight stabilize where it will.
  • Learn to accept and even appreciate your body. Body shape is not as changeable as we are led to believe. Genetics plays a strong role: most of us will never look like supermodels no matter what we eat or how much we exercise.
  • Advocate for changes in your food system. Join your local food cooperative. Become involved in community-supported agriculture (CSA). Get your school to substitute healthy foods for the junk food in the vending machines. Educate yourself and your community about nutrition and the politics of food.
Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.