Easy to follow choices that can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
The start of a new year symbolizes a fresh start, a chance to reassess our lives and set new goals. Two of the most common pledges we make every year are to lose weight and get in shape. To help achieve your aspiration of realizing a healthier you can follow the three M’s – Mediterranean diet, mindfulness and movement.
Take a Trip to the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seafood, with liberal use of olive oil and a limited intake of red meat. It’s not without its rewards – the diet plan also allows for a few glasses of red wine per week.
With easy-to-follow guidelines the diet has proven to be so successful that U.S. News & World Report recently ranked it No. 1 on its 39 Best Diets Overall list, labeling it as a Best-Heart Healthy Diet.
“Because it’s plant-based and it removes packaged foods, sugar, and saturated fats from your diet, it creates a core deficit that can help you lose weight,” says Diane May, MPH, MS, RD, CDN, CSOWM, a registered dietician with Scarsdale Medical Group. “Studies have shown the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as the incidence of cognitive impairment associated with dementia. It’s not a fad diet. It’s been used in research and is evidence-based.”
Put Your Mind at Ease
Mindfulness, the practice of focusing on the moment at hand, has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness. People who practice mindfulness have seen an improvement in mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and experienced relief from physical ailments such as chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and high blood pressure.
“Deep breathing is an easy method that can help ease stress,” says Mary Beth Schmidt, Senior Staff Chaplain at White Plains Hospital. “If you’re in a tense situation, take a deep breath, hold it for five seconds, and then let it go for ten seconds. It will lower your blood pressure and change how your body reacts to stress.”
Chaplain Schmidt also suggests mindful eating. Most of the time we don’t pay attention to what we’re eating because we’re preoccupied or eating at our desks while we work. When we eat with more mindfulness, paying attention to the texture and taste of the food, we slow down and digest our food better which helps get more vitamins and minerals and aids in overall digestive health.
Move it! The Advantages of Movement and Exercise
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, only 23% of Americans 18 and older meet the federal standards for aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise.
Movement affects many aspects of our health including circulation, digestion, and immunity. It also helps our bodies regulate hormone activity and detoxify.
“It sounds obvious, but the little things like enjoying the outdoors, walking, or playing with your pets are great for your overall health and also allow you to be alone with your thoughts and center yourself for whatever you’re going to face next,” says Dr. Christopher Robles, Family Medicine and Primary Care physician at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates.
Small changes, every day… by following the three M’s you may soon look in the mirror and see the promise of a healthier you fulfilled.