By John Ruibal, MS, RDN, CSSD, Prowers Medical Center Dietitian
When the temperatures start to heat up, this is a good time to evaluate how your wellness goals for the year are going. If you were focused after the New Year but have gotten into a rut, summer provides an opportunity to refocus and make some small changes in lifestyle that will pay off big for this year and the rest of your life.
To get on the wellness track, it takes a combination of both exercise and food choices to meet your goals. As a longtime dietitian, I would like to tell you it is going to be easy but after doing this for more than 25 years, I’ve learned that it is never easy and it takes a lot of dedication. The payoff is worth the changes you make in your health and wellbeing.
Here are some tips to get you started. But before diving in, you have to know where you have been before you know where you are going. Get a small memo book and start recording. At a minimum, track all items you eat and drink and the amounts. It is also good to put your mood down when eating. By recording, you will be able to see areas where you can make big changes and notice the stressors that may cause you to eat when you are not really hungry. Some areas I find that people make big changes in are the following:
- Beverages choices. Men take in about 30% of their calories from beverages. Women on average take in about 25% of their daily calories from beverages. Diet drinks aren’t always good choices. Try switching to water, unsweet tea, or black coffee. If you like juices ,try switching to real fruit.
- After dinner snacks. These can be diet busters – think about mindlessly eating chips, ice cream or drinking pop. Choose healthier options like cut up fruit or vegetables.
- Make exercise accessible. When you are heading to work, shopping, school, etc., pick a parking spot the furthest away and then walk an extra lap around the parking lot. If you are using a step counter, remember 10,000 steps a day is for general fitness. If you are trying to lose a few pounds, 15,000 steps should be the goal.
- Be active when your kids are active. If you have kids in sports during the summer, this is a great time to work out. Walk around the field while they are practicing, bring a mat and do some planks or pushups. Take advantage of the time and avoid sitting in the car or on the sidelines.
- Weigh in. You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you are starting. Weighing in allows you to make adjustments if you see spikes in weight. Sign up for the Weigh and Win campaign and make a few dollars losing weight. Stop by Prowers Medical Center on Thursdays and Fridays to weigh in or get started.
Summer is a great time to kick start good eating and exercise habits. Make a few small changes that you can maintain over time. Add new habits every 20 – 30 days and think long term. Setbacks are going to happen but that is the time to double down and then come Labor Day, your fitness level will be improved and your weight will be down.