Being healthy and active can help give you the energy to keep up with the demands of your busy life, take better care of yourself, and be there for the people who depend on you. You may improve your health if you Move More and Eat Better! Healthy diet and exercise helps to lower and maintain a healthy weight thereby preventing many of the diseases that affect so many such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and even some cancers. Being active and making healthy food choices is good for your health. But that is not the only reason to move more and eat better. You can:
- Have more energy and less stress.
- Feel better about yourself.
- Tone your body.
- Look better in your clothes.
- Set a good example for your children and your friends.
Tips on Moving More
Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like brisk walking) on most days of the week. It is not as hard as you may think, and you do not have to do the whole 30 minutes at one time. Try these tips to get past things that keep you from being active.
"I don’t have time for physical activity."
You can "sneak" it into your day, a few minutes at a time. Get started by making these small changes in your daily routine:
- Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way (be sure the area is safe).
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator (be sure the stairs are well lit).
- You do not have to do your entire workout in one block of time. Break it up—taking three 10-minute walks during your day may be easier than taking one 30-minute walk.
- Walk and talk with a friend at lunch.
- Put more energy into housework and yard work.
- Make regular appointments for your workouts and keep them as you would a hair or nail appointment.
- Be active while doing other things. For example, lift weights or march in place while watching TV. Try walking around your home while talking on a cordless telephone.
“I’m going to ruin my hairstyle.” If you avoid physical activity because you do not want to ruin your hairstyle, try:
- a natural hairstyle
- a style that can be wrapped or pulled back
- a short haircut
- braids, twists, or locs
"It's too expensive."
There are lots of ways to be physically active that are free or low-cost. You can:
- Find a local park or school track where you can walk or run.
- Walk around a mall.
- Work out with videos in your home—you can find workout videos at bookstores or your local library.
- Join a recreation center or fitness center at work or near your home.
- Walk your dog. If you do not have a dog, pretend that you do.
TIP: Most people do not need to see their health care provider before getting physically active. If you have chronic health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, or obesity, talk to your health care provider before starting a vigorous physical activity program. You do not need to talk to your provider before you start a less strenuous activity like walking.
"Physical activity is a chore."
It can be fun! Try to:
- Do things you enjoy, like walking, dancing, swimming, or playing sports.
- Walk or take an exercise class with a friend or a group. This way, you can cheer each other on, have company, and feel safer when you are outdoors.
- Be active with your kids—ride bikes, jump doubledutch, toss a softball, play tag, or do jumping jacks. Physical activity is good for them too.
- Use your daily workouts as time-outs just for yourself.
It may be hard to eat healthy if you do not have time to cook or your kids want fast food. Try these tips to eat better, save time, and stretch your food budget.
Help Your Family Eat Well
Here are some ways that you and your family can eat better:
- Eat breakfast every day. Try a whole-grain cereal like raisin bran with fat-free or low-fat milk, or whole-wheat toast spread with jam. Enjoy some fruit with your breakfast too.
- Teach kids that healthy foods taste good. Make macaroni and cheese with fat-free milk and low-fat cheese. Try a peanut butter (spread thin) and jam or preserves sandwich instead of a burger and fries.
- Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese instead of full-fat dairy products.
- Choose whole-grain foods like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta more often than refined-grain foods, like white bread, white rice, and white pasta.
- Snack on fruits and vegetables. Keep a bowl of fruit on the table, bags of mini carrots in the refrigerator, and boxes of raisins in the cupboard.
- Do not keep a lot of sweets like cookies, candy, or soda in the house. Too many sweets can crowd out healthier foods.
TIP: If you cannot digest lactose (the sugar found in milk), try fat-free or low-fat lactose-reduced milk. Or try fat-free or low-fat yogurt or hard cheeses like cheddar, which may be easier to digest than milk. You can also get calcium from calcium-fortified juices, soy-based beverages, and cereals. Eating dark leafy vegetables like collard greens and kale, and canned fish with soft bones like salmon, can also help you meet your body’s calcium needs.
Save Time and Money When You Cook
You do not have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen or a lot of money to eat well.
- Buy foods that are easy to prepare, like pasta and tomato sauce, rice and beans, or canned tuna packed in water.
- Plan ahead and cook enough food to have leftovers. Casseroles, meat loaf, and whole cooked chicken can feed your family for several days. (Be sure to freeze or refrigerate leftovers right away to keep them safe to eat.)
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Buy only as much as you will use, so they will not go bad.
- Buy frozen or canned vegetables (no salt added) and canned fruit packed in juice. They are just as good for you as fresh produce, and will not go bad.
- Try canned beans like kidney, butter, pinto, or black beans. They are loaded with protein, cost less than meat, and make quick and easy additions to your meals.
- If your local store does not have the foods you want, or the prices are too high, go to another store or your local farmers market. Share a ride or the cost of a taxi with friends.
- Involve your friends by having days of cooking and sharing healthy meals together. Cut the cost of the meals by buying the ingredients together.
TIP: Keep a food diary. Writing down what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel when you eat can help you understand your eating habits. You may be able to see ways to make your eating habits healthier. You can also use your diary to plan weekly menus, make shopping lists, and keep track of recipes you would like to try. For more information about keeping track of food portions, read WIN’s brochure Just Enough for You: About Food Portions.
You can do it!
Set goals. Move at your own pace. Celebrate your successes with new hobbies or rewards that are not food related (book, new music, outfit, etc). Allow for setbacks. Let your family and friends help you. And keep trying—you can do it!