5 “Mini” Health Changes that Make a Big Difference

Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor, Melanie Douglass, R.D., NASM, AFAA shares five changes that add up to make a significant impact on your health.

Think it’s just too hard to “get healthy”? It’s not! There are tiny, doable things you can do everyday that add up to make a giant positive difference in your health. The bottom line is that most of us know what we should do to be healthier. Eating more fruits and veggies and cutting excess calories, fat and sugar is not revelatory, by any means. What we lack is the motivation to eat healthy foods in environment swimming with foods that are the exact opposite of healthy. So here’s your motivation. Choose one thing to focus on each day. One tiny thing. You can do it! Small things add up. And by focusing on one doable thing, you’ll likely find yourself making other healthy choices along the way; you’ll feel better, improve your health, lose weight, improve your self-esteem and keep your sanity.

Here’s a start. Five small changes. Choose one to work on today. After you work through these, you’ll be on the right track and probably start making other good changes… that fit into your busy lifestyle!

1. Do 20 Push-ups Every Morning.
This is an easy one! If you must, break it into (2) sets of 10, or (4) sets of 5. But you can do 20 pushups. Pushups strengthen your entire body and generate positive energy to start your day on a positive note. All of us need more calorie-burning, oxygenating tissue in our body. Pushups are an easy, surefire way to do just that.

2. Weigh Your Carbs
Carbs, carbs, carbs. They always seem like the problem child. When it comes to eating bread, cookies, muffins, rolls, pasta, tortillas, chips, crackers, etc., there is a simple way to recognize just how many calories these seemingly normal portions can pack in. (The problem is that the portion sizes are NOT normal in these types of foods, they are typically, uh, huge.)

Here’s the easy rule. 1 ounce = 100 calories. A 5 ounce cookie = 500 calories. A 4 ounce bowl of pasta= 400 calories. You get the idea. This is an easy rule that helps us to realize how many calories we are really eating day after day. You generally only want 5 to 6 ounces of carbs per day.

3. Take Smaller Bites
When it comes to popcorn and snacks, take smaller bites. Instead of shoveling handfuls of popcorn into your mouth during a movie, eat 2-3 kernels at a time. Why? A person who eats 2-3 kernels at a time is likely to eat just 3 – 4 cups of popcorn during a movie, verses a handful – eater consuming 10 – 20 cups. (That’s 240 calories instead of 1200.)

This rule is applicable to most foods we eat. Eat smaller bites, take longer to chew… let your brain communicate when it’s time to stop, before it’s too late.

4. Eat the Good Stuff, First
Make a deal with yourself to eat the healthy stuff first. Instead of waking up to a fatty, sugary meal, tell yourself to get the healthy stuff in first. “Fuel” your body, then maybe have a treat later. Practice this over an entire day and during individual meals too. Eat the fruits, veggies and lean meats first, then the carbs and treats.

Most often, if we eat a few sweet strawberries or fruit and some lean chicken or meat, that treat we thought we just had to have doesn’t feel necessary after all. Give your body a chance to feel satisfied on healthy foods first. This happens for people all the time. Craving something unhealthy? Try a few slices of lean deli turkey. A lot of times it’s an “oh I guess I’m okay” reaction, because it works.

5. Stand Up!
Did you know?
   • Sitting burns 1.4 calories per minute.
   • Standing burns 3.0 calories per minute.

Over an 8-hour time period:
   • Sitting burns 686 calories
   • Standing burns 1440 calories

That’s a 754 calorie difference! So every minute you stand makes a difference. Don’t slouch. Stand with some conviction. Contract your abs, pull your shoulders down and back, pull your belly button inward and contract your muscles. Stand during TV, talking on phone, putting gas in your car, even during meetings.

Let’s compare that to walking:
   • Walking at a moderate pace burns 5 calories per minute.
   • Turning 30 minutes of “sitting” into 30 minutes of walking adds       up to 39,000 calories per year, or about 11 pounds!

That’s a start. But take a look at your life, your needs and your schedule. What tiny things can you come up with to improve your health?

For more info: melaniedouglass@gmail.com

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