Make taking care of yourself a priority
Because January is Thyroid Awareness Month there is no better time to support your thyroid. How? Healthy habits in your eating and exercise can go a long way. People who suffer from hypothyroidism have an especially hard time managing their weight, but lots of us can benefit from some reminders in the new year as we strive to make changes.
Last week (January 20 to 26) was also National Healthy Weight Week. What’s the best way to maintain a healthy weight? Lots of doctors say it, and studies back it up: Diets don't work—healthy lifelong habits are what help you to lose weight but also keep it off and take care of your health over time. Here are some things to keep in mind as you focus on changes you’d like to make.
Find your focus about the food you eat
Set a realistic goal that allows you to enjoy a satisfying, healthy diet.
- Portions portions portions. Counting calories is likely to drive you crazy. An easy way to reduce your intake (or at least slow it down) is use a smaller plate, bowl, or glass. Serve yourself half of what you would normally take. See how you feel when you finish. If you still want more, go ahead. But make the conscious decision to take less than you normally would.
- Focus on variety, not calories. Are you getting enough different colors and textures in your diet (from “whole” foods—not counting preservatives or additives). You’d be surprised how we fall into the same food ruts about what is “comfort food.” Have something red and crunchy today. Tomorrow satisfy that craving for something bitter or tangy. Buy a vegetable you’ve never cooked and look up a recipe for how to make it. Try new ways to expand your repertoire for what food is satisfying.
Find exercise that fits you
You can’t change your height or body type, but exercise can affect your body composition (the ratio of muscle to fat). There are exercise routines for different body types, but most doctors agree that your best bet is a combination of cardiovascular activity (even walking) for 20 minutes at least a few times a week, plus some strength training.
Hate the gym? Don’t worry—you don’t have to lift weights! Consider these options:
- Yoga is strength training that uses your body weight as resistance.
- Exercises that require you have your hands above shoulder level (like a rock climbing wall, or Zumba) not only get your heart rate up, they build your muscles.
- Doing squats or sitting against a wall (as though you’re in a chair) are efficient ways to build muscle strength—and you can do this in just a few minutes a day, from the comfort of your bedroom.
The great thing about building muscle mass is it means your body burns calories more efficiently, and your body composition switches to a lower percentage of fat overall. Some studies suggest strength training can also affect your bone density. Varying your exercise works different muscles but also keeps you from getting bored with your workout routine and slacking off.
Reward yourself by relaxing. Just like after a hard day, after a workout, take the time to rest and recover before you’re on to the next thing. In yoga, the final pose is called Savasana, when you lie on your back and close your eyes, giving your body a chance to acclimate to the work you just did. So take a couple minutes to sit, breathe deeply, and calm your mind. It is a peaceful way to transition from exercise to sleep, or to the rest of your daily routine.
Give yourself every chance to feel and look great in 2017! Everyone deserves to have energy and feel satisfaction. It will serve you well in your work, play, and relationships.
The Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, Florida wants to support its students in developing good habits. To find out more about becoming a student at Harris Casel, fill out our simple online form.