National Nutrition Month: Mind Your Wellness

A rise in chronic ailments, such as diabetes and heart disease, and increased publicity on the U.S. obesity epidemic have led many Americans to start actively improving their health.  More and more people are trading in burgers for more nutritious options like salads or cutting T.V. time to hit the gym instead.  Eating well and exercising more are excellent ways to move towards a healthier you, but as you make changes, be careful to include a healthy outlook as well.  A good mindset and plan will help you stick to your goals and get the most out of your positive changes.

How well are you minding your wellness? Look over the following “warning signs” to see if any might be slowing you down.  Then, read on for tips to think healthier thoughts.

stop signNegative self-talk.

“Burn off those love handles,” “She’s so dedicated, she deserves the perfect body she has,” “More (miles, reps, weight, etc.) is always better.”   It’s important to listen to the  messages you tell yourself: eventually, you might start believing it!  Instead of focusing on your own “flaws,” comparing yourself to other “better” people, or always pushing yourself to the ultimate limit, give yourself credit! Small changes are still accomplishments.  Moreover, when you falter or have an “off” day, use it as a learning experience to bounce back next time. Learning new cooking skills, daring a new exercise class, or trying to incorporate breakfast can take some time. Instead of beating yourself up for not accomplishing your goals (“You’re such a lazy wimp, you’ll never be dedicated enough to make it to 5am workouts”), try making your goals more realistic (“I’m not a morning person, working out at 5am everyday just isn’t me. I’ll try the evening class instead.”)

stop signLimiting Food Groups.

There is a reason why USDA’s “MyPlate” and the former food-guide pyramid included grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy and protein foods. Ample research backs the decision to include these foods as part of a balanced diet. Consequently, cutting out certain food groups, such as grains or dairy (unless told by a doctor or Registered Dietitian (RD) due to an allergy or intolerance) means eliminating certain vitamins and minerals that your body needs for its everyday functions.  These nutrients may not be as easily absorbed from a pill or supplement. If you are considering cutting out a certain food, speak with a dietitian first to make sure you still get the nutrients you need.

stop signUnder-fueling.

Online calorie counters and applications are great tools for monitoring weight loss or sodium intake. But when you use them, make sure you set realistic and feasible calorie limits. Most adults lose weight at 1,500 calories; anything less than this may slow your metabolism and actually make it harder to lose weight! 1,500 calories means about 500 calories for each of your three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) or 400 calories for three meals plus a 300 calorie snack before exercise. Talk to an RD for a specific meal plan to keep your weight loss on track!

stop signBody Dysmorphia.

In other words, learn to love your body!  Body dysmorphia refers to the distorted images of ourselves we may have in our mind. Body dysmorphia is a true disorder where people think about their real or perceived flaws constantly throughout the day. Although we may not all be at this extreme, we often see ourselves with a more critical eye than our friends and coworkers do. Do you have “thunder thighs” – or are you beautifully curvy, like your mom?  Learn to love your strengths, passions, and individuality, and reconsider your “flaws.”  You may find that they are not flaws at all, but strengths or beauties that set you apart from the norm.

When exercising, focus on your health goals (i.e. preventing high blood pressure) and less on what you see in the mirror. Strive to build endurance and strength rather than losing inches. If your negative thoughts are causing you extreme emotional distress or to miss work or social activities, seek a mental health therapist or counselor.

In closing, check out this new “Barbie” created by artist Nickolay Lamm.  He created this doll with healthy, strong proportions and hopes it will make people reconsider what true, attainable health and beauty look like.

-Erica

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