Take Charge of Your Health: 5 Habits of Healthy People

Written by Doris Romano

Doris Romano is a registered nurse and nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition and weight management. Doris teaches Sports Nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and is a writer for http://LiveStrong.com.

1. Build more movement into your day. Rather than exercising for the sake of exercising, make your lifestyle active. Build activity into your routine without having to think about it.

Your new habit for the next 2 weeks: build in some form of extra physical activity each day. Tips: get up to change the channel; take the stairs; take a walk break instead of a coffee break; plant a garden; enroll in a yoga class; bike to work; get rid of the snow blower; combine walking and socializing.

2. Eat mostly plants. A low-calorie, plant-based, whole-foods diet is the foundation of every high-quality and health-promoting diet. It reduces the risk of dying from all the Western diseases, promotes a leaner body, and is alkaline-producing which helps to preserve bone mass and muscle. A serving = 1 cup of leafy vegetables or ½ cup of cooked or raw vegetables.

Your new habit for the next 2 weeks: Eat at least 6 servings of vegetables each day. Tips: add baby spinach to your protein shake; eat raw veggie sticks as a side to your meal; make a large, colourful salad; grill veggies for dinner; jazz up your meals by adding pesto, salsa or baba ganoush.

3. Hara Hachi Bu: Eat until you are 80% full. Eating to the point where there is no longer hunger (vs. until “full” or “stuffed”) plays a major role in improving your health and losing fat.

Your new habit for the next 2 weeks: Whenever it’s time to eat, follow the 80% rule. Tips: serve yourself at the counter before taking your plate to the table; buy smaller plates and tall, narrow glasses; put tempting foods out of sight; buy smaller packages; eat more slowly and without distractions; eat only sitting down; eat early.

4. Make time for sleep. Getting less than 7.5 hours of sleep each night means more body fat and greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. Further, people who sleep less seem to crave more food. And not the nutritious stuff. Lack of sleep usually reflects our priorities rather than real-time constraints. If you aren’t getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, figure out why.

Your new habit for the next 2 weeks: Sleep at least 8 hours each day. Tips: Keep a relatively consistent bedtime and wake time; keep the bedroom quiet, extremely dark, and slightly cool; eliminate caffeine later in the day; exercise to improve sleep; develop a pre-bed routine that is relaxing.

5. Slow down. Stress less. The negative effects of stress can create conditions in the body that promote age-related diseases. We rush, worry, and give urgency to so many things in our lives that really aren’t that important. With that realization, adopting strategies for slowing down seem much easier.

YOUR NEW HABIT FOR THE NEXT 2 WEEKS: Create space to slow down for 10 minutes every day. Tips: minimize time spent with TV, radio, Internet, and handheld devices; plan to arrive 15 minutes early to every appointment; practice yoga; cultivate a regular meditation practice upon rising every day.

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