Most New Year’s Resolutions focus on improving health and happiness but “get healthy” is ambiguous. Depending on which articles you read or the reports you listen to, eating healthier can be downright confusing or overwhelming.
“What I tell people is: Eat well. Move well. Think well. Set small achievable goals for short periods of time,” encourages Dr. Amy Michelle Willcockson, director of Live Healthy Iowa, which was created to strategically address Iowa’s growing obesity problem. Live Healthy Iowa brings together friends, families, businesses and communities in team-based wellness challenges designed to promote positive lifestyle change.
Dr. Willcockson says it’s best to create a baseline by getting a physical. Find out if all your numbers are in order: cholesterol, sugars and body fat percentage / body mass index (BMI). Keep track of where you are and strive for better balance. Work at getting just 10 percent better in any one area.
“Focus on just one 10 percent increment at a time,” she says. “Don’t look at the insurmountable. Literally just take a step in the right direction. Then take the next step.”
To get 10 percent better in any one area, Dr. Willcockson offers this practical advice:
- Eat Well. Try to have one different colored fruit and vegetable on your plate at each meal. Pack snacks to enjoy as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks in the office or on the road. Be sure to include a healthy fat with fruits and veggies. “Grab and go” foods might include: 1/3 cup hummus with 12 baby carrots; ¼ cup almonds or walnuts with 8 large strawberries; or 1 cup cherry tomatoes with 1 ounce of plain cheese curds.
- Move Well. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Park further away from the building you’re going to enter. As a society, we need to change the way we think about how we workout. Google “interval training” or “burst training,” and get ideas for workouts that are from 5 to 15 minutes long.
- Think Well. Does your self-talk need to be more positive? Maybe you struggle with depression or have an unresolved issue with a family member or friend. Get a stack of positive affirmation cards and begin the day by reading one or watch a motivational YouTube video every morning.
“Find solutions,” says Dr. Willcockson. “It’s so classic to think, ‘I just cheated on my diet, so I may as well have another cookie.’ Or, ‘I can’t make it to the gym, so what’s the point in exercising?’ Be stronger than your excuses! What can you do to incorporate more movement into your daily routine? Eat a healthy breakfast and then get your metabolism going for 5 or 10 minutes. Do squats while brushing your teeth, 30 seconds at a time. Do jumping jacks while waiting for your coffee. Do some lounges while you’re blow drying your hair.”
The benefits of regular exercise are innumerable, adds Dr. Willcockson. To encourage people to get moving, Live Healthy Iowa offers quarterly challenges. In 2017 alone, 14,899 people participated in the 10-Week Wellness Challenge and logged 32,287,019 minutes of physical activity and lost a total of 36,654 pounds. Results of the 10-Week Challenge since 2002 are:
- 339,605 participants
- 1,222,406 pounds lost
- 660,184,13 minutes logged
Step Up to the Challenge!
Become part of the network of support and education through the 2018 10-Week Challenge. Family members, friends, neighbors, church groups, or companies and businesses can sign up teams. Because activity is recorded online, teams can include members from different towns, states and countries.
The 16th annual 10-week challenge begins Jan. 22, so click here to learn more or to sign up now! All you need to do is get online and get moving.
“The programs that Live Healthy Iowa hosts are designed to help people engage in a team environment that helps hold them accountable with camaraderie,” says Dr. Willcockson. “Our programs are flexible and affordable. Programs like the 10-Week Challenge provide a catalyst for lifestyle changes.”
“We do what we do because we want you to be there for the important moments in your life and for the important people in your life,” adds Dr. Willcockson. “You can’t be there – in so many ways – if you’re not healthy. Set goals to bike with young kids, get down on the floor and play or take the trips you want. Be there by eating well, moving well and thinking well.”
To help us eat well, Dr. Willcockson is sharing with us one of her favorite ways to incorporate more vegetables into her diet. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to trying fried cauliflower in place of fried rice in a stir fry recipe this weekend.