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Make That Change

Little things you can do today—and every day—for better health

Make That Change

So you want to be healthy, right? Every day, right? 

It’s possible, and well within your control. Today. Why today? Because every day we make over a thousand choices that impact our health, which means you can choose the right thing again and again and again. As importantly, if you don’t make a great choice, you’ve got at least nine hundred and ninety more choices to make to correct it. 

A European study has shown the obvious: those who maintained a healthy weight, didn’t light up a cigarette, found time to exercise for at least three-and-a-half hours per week (that’s only 30 minutes a day) and chose plant-based foods (think broccoli, hummus and whole wheat pita over that juicy quarter-pounder with cheese) had a whopping 78 percent less likelihood of developing a chronic disease (yup, that’s heart disease, diabetes, most cancers, etc). 

Good health is all about lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle. The easiest way to change your lifestyle is to make different choices every day. Not tomorrow, not next week, not at the end of this wonderful summer. Little changes, every day.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Choose an Obtainable Goal – If you want to lose 10 pounds this year, don’t try to do it all in a month. Challenge yourself to lose about two to four pounds a month. That sounds a lot more manageable than 10 all at once. Achieving smaller goals will motivate you to reach your overall goal.
  1. Create a Game Plan – Plan things out. Create a weekly calendar that spells out what you are going to eat and how many times you are going to exercise. This will help you stay committed to your program and keep you on schedule.
  1. Don’t Do It Alone – Find a friend to take on this challenge with you. Research shows that partnering with a buddy will motivate you and give you both a better outcome.
  1. Give It Time – Nothing happens overnight. Stay focused and know that every extra step you take and every workout you complete is cumulative. Over time, your body will get stronger, you will breathe easier and you will feel happier.
  1. Reward Yourself – Celebrate when you accomplish a goal, but always remember it’s called a “treat” for a reason. Don’t fall back into bad habits. Keep it going!

By focusing on better health using baby steps, your goals will become attainable: Reach for a fresh peach instead of a cookie. Park at the edge of the lot and walk further to the grocery store; if you’re commuting, get off the train a stop early and walk the rest of the way. Or take a conference call on your cell phone (using a headset) instead of at your desk.

Add a tiny little tweak like this today, and then turn today into every day. Add years—healthy years—to your life.

What change will you make today? 

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Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kröger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Aug 10.

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