Questions or comments? Email author, Alice Henneman, MS, RDN
H - ealth
The first wealth is health." (Source: Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Make health a priority this year. Health should be more than the absence of disease — read on for ideas.
A - ttitude"Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other." (Source: Joseph Addison)
A positive attitude may not cure a disease. However, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and enjoy life more.
P - hysical activity
"A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs." (Source: Joan Welsh)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends for adults: "Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity. Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial."
For more information and for guidelines for children: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
P - eople
"Love cures people - both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it..." (Source: Dr. Karl Menninger)
Numerous studies indicate social networks, whether formal (such as a church or social club) or informal (such as meeting with friends), make people less vulnerable to ill health and premature death. Be wary, however, of social support that drains you through people being too demanding or encouraging you to engage in harmful behaviors.
Y- our body
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." (Source: Jim Rohn)
Schedule physical checkups as needed: eyes, teeth, mammogram, colonoscopy, general physical, etc.
N - O!
"Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough." (Source: Josh Billings)
Rather than adding "take a time management class" to your "to do" list, consider starting a "don't do" list. You may discover doing LESS can bring MORE enjoyment to your life. Especially if doing less allows you to spend time doing more to contribute to your health and happiness and that of family and friends!
E - at healthy
"Rich, fatty foods are like destiny: they too, shape our ends." (Source: Author Unknown)
ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends: "Calories are the fuel you need to work and play. You even need calories to rest and sleep! Foods and beverages vary in how many calories and nutrients they contain. When choosing what to eat and drink, it's important to get the right mix - enough nutrients, but not too many calories."
For more information on planning healthy menus, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov
W - isdom
"A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion."(Source: Chinese Proverb)
Take time to listen to your own body. Rather than set your goals based on how fast other people walk or jog, how little sleep others can get by on or how much someone else eats, concentrate on what makes YOU healthy.
Y - our hands
"Keeping hands clean is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness." (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Here's how to wash your hands from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When washing your hands with soap and water:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
E - nough sleep
"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book." (Source: Irish Proverb)
According to a December, 2013 Gallup Poll, 43% of Americans say they would feel better if they got more sleep.
"Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Insufficient sleep is linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational disorders. People who don't get enough sleep also are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers these tips to help you get a good night's sleep:
- Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Try to avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening, as it may keep you awake at night.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night. Some people watch television, read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.
- Keep your bedroom dark, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
- Have a comfortable mattress, a pillow you like, and enough blankets for the season.
- Exercise at regular times each day but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.
- Make an effort to get outside in the sunlight each day.
- Be careful about when and how much you eat. Large meals close to bedtime may keep you awake, but a light snack in the evening can help you get a good night's sleep.
- Stay away from caffeine late in the day. Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and hot chocolate) can keep you awake.
- Drink fewer beverages in the evening. Waking up to go to the bathroom and turning on a bright light break up your sleep.
- Remember that alcohol won't help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.
- Use your bedroom only for sleeping. After turning off the light, give yourself about 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you're still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed.
(Image source: Indi Samarajiva,https://flic.kr/p/7B2Nqq )
A - void portion distortion
"Never eat more than you can lift." (Source: Miss Piggy, Muppet character)
Rather than worry so much about "what" you eat, consider "how much" you eat. Downsize your portion sizes. Serve food on smaller plates. Eat from plates and bowls rather than packages and bags, so you see how much you're eating.
R - eading materials
"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." (Source: Mark Twain)
Consider the source before starting a new drastic diet or exercise plan. Beware of plans that:
- Promise quick, dramatic results
- Charge large fees for consultations, equipment, supplements, etc.
- Rely solely on testimonials and statements from "professionals" with unusual-sounding degrees.