5 Tips to Get You Eating Better and Working Out

By Enjoli Francis

Nov 2, 2011 3:11pm

Mary Claire Orenic, USA Today’s “happiest woman in America,” says her diet and exercise regimen have contributed to her high well-being.

She eats five small meals a day in addition to a big breakfast, plays volleyball with her son and basketball with her husband and enjoys lots of walking with a neighbor.

“I continually eat throughout the day to keep my energy up,” she told ABC News. “I like doing sports. … We love going skiing. We love going hiking. We love going down to the beach.”

Healthways and “World News” want to help you improve your well-being at home and at work.

First, test your well-being here and then check out the following five tips to give your health a kick in the right direction.

  1. Add 2 or 3 healthy snacks to your shopping list. Think of two or three healthy snacks you can add right away to your grocery list. Fresh fruits, vegetables and part-skim cheese sticks are good choices, as are unsalted nuts such as almonds and cashews. Consider a combination that you can pack in resealable plastic bags to take with you as you go about your day, or reach for at home when the munchies strike. A few ideas include an apple with peanut butter, nuts and low-fat cheese, and fresh veggies with hummus.
    When crunched for time at the grocery store, it’s easy to forget about buying healthy snacks to have on hand. But taking a few minutes to add healthy snacks to your shopping list can help you avoid reaching for that high-calorie or high-sugar bag of chips or candy bar. Look for snacks that combine some protein and a little fat, such as a handful of nuts or a low-fat cheese stick, and pair that with an unrefined carbohydrate (like veggies or fruit) to satisfy your hunger and give you the energy you need.   
  2. Ask a friend to go for a walk this week. Ask a friend if he or she would like to go walking with you this week. Set aside at least 20 minutes for the walk, and pick a time – like during lunch or after work – that’s convenient. Alternatively, you can go for a walk in a nearby park and call a friend on your cell phone. If you both have time, walk (and talk) for an additional 10 minutes.
    Social support encourages exercise in most of us, from college students to older adults. It’s harder to make excuses and avoid physical activity when you have a commitment with a friend. Walking together makes the time seem to go more quickly, the exertion easier, and you may find that you walk farther. You’ll gain benefits both from moving your body as well as from spending time with someone you like.
  3. Climb a set of stairs (at least 20 steps) today. Climb at least 20 steps anywhere you choose – in your house, your apartment or condominium, or the steps leading to a public building, or at a gym. Remember not to overdo it. Stair climbing is a strenuous activity. If you’re not used to it, take a five- to 10-minute walk instead.
    Physical activity doesn’t only mean going to the gym; it can also mean incorporating small changes into your daily life to increase the amount you move. Taking the stairs exercises your legs and your lungs, while increasing your heartbeat. Not to mention that you’ll burn five times more calories climbing the steps than pushing the elevator button (and it might be faster, too!)
  4. Design a tossed salad. Use your imagination to design a tossed vegetable salad that’s not only beautiful to look at but a pleasing harmony of tastes. You don’t have to actually make this salad today, but write down the recipe for it today and decide what day you’ll actually put it on the table. 
    Making and eating tossed salads is a healthy habit. Not only are salads a great way to express your creativity in the kitchen, but a diet high in vegetables and fruits is essential to a healthy life. Eating a salad gets you a few steps closer to meeting the federal nutrient recommendations, which call for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and preferably nine. Plus, fruits and vegetables with their high bulk-low calorie ratio are ideal for people trying to control their weight, because they fill you up without filling you out.
  5. List a healthy activity you can do to help you manage stress. Here are a few to get you started: take a walk, learn to knit, volunteer at the senior center, play with your pet, soak in a bubble bath, fix a healthy meal, ride your bike, clean out a closet, kiss your spouse/child/parent, hug a friend.
    Handling stress isn’t about eliminating it, it’s about managing it and counteracting its health-damaging hormones with a goodly amount of your body’s own natural health-benefitting chemicals such as endorphins and oxytocin, either of which can be boosted through activities like walking, knitting, soaking in a bubble bath, cleaning out a closet, hugging a friend, kissing your spouse/child/parent.
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