Cheers to Health!
eating for better health
Life is busy, which often makes eating healthy seem like an unattainable goal. While it’s easy to just grab something—anything—on the go, Dr. Jill Bosanquet, a family medicine specialist with SSM Health DePaul Hospital Weight Management Services, says the new year is the perfect time to slow down and prioritize smart meals because doing the opposite has major risks.
What happens to your body when you don’t stay active and eat a nutritious diet? Most notably, you’ll likely gain weight. “Fat cells are active, metabolic cells that produce hormones and inflammatory chemicals,” Bosanquet says. “Along with added pounds, they can contribute to conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.” High carbohydrate and sugar content can cause issues with insulin resistance, and high saturated fat can contribute to heart problems as well.
According to Bosanquet, good health is always personal, so it’s important to work with a doctor to create an individual plan for healthier living. “We can help you set some realistic expectations,” she says. “We also can calculate your metabolic rate and give you a targeted calorie recommendation for your individual needs.”
A doctor can help you understand what type of diet will work well for your body type, medical needs and lifestyle. “We tailor nutrition recommendations to each person’s unique health issues,” Bosanquet says. “Diet programs like intermittent fasting may or may not be a good idea, depending on what health conditions you have and which medications you are using.” She adds that some self-monitoring plans like Noom may work well because they promote long-term behavior modification. “Whatever your needs, your plan should be slow, sustainable and consistent, not click-and-crash,’” she says.
workouts that work
Weaving good fitness habits into a busy schedule is another challenge most people can understand. It’s easy to head home after a long day and think, “I’ll exercise tomorrow.” To keep yourself motivated, it’s important to learn habits of consistency and commitment, says Jessica Phillips, owner and certified trainer at The Exercise Coach. A positive mindset, new fitness technology and a gym with family-friendly services are just a few of the things that can make exercising easier.
“When thinking about fitness goals, always focus on what your quality of life will be a year from now,” Phillips advises. “Would you like it to be as good or better? Don’t be afraid to make yourself a little uncomfortable today to make it happen tomorrow because ‘comfortable’ probably isn’t working that well for you anymore.”
She recommends using a holistic approach called ‘the best six doctors for your health’—exercise, water, sunshine, rest, good diet and fresh air. “Practice them every day,” she says. “Start small, form a habit, see how good it feels, then make it a lifestyle. And don’t just think about exercise in terms of your weight; consider how it also will help your body’s systems work better. Do you want to have more energy? Be able to think more clearly? Be stronger? Do things without pain? At the end of the day, it’s all about taking care of your whole self.”
Phillips offers some mental motivation tips for busy people:
➊ Keep your workout clothes and shoes in the car. Don’t give yourself an excuse to go home.
➋ Write your gym appointments and fitness classes on the calendar in bright colors so you won’t forget them.
➌ Remember that working out will help you build energy for a more productive workday, improved mood and better work relationships.
➍ Give exercise the same importance as a doctor or dentist appointment. It’s just as key to your health.
➎ You can be more present for others if you take care of your own health first.
exercise made easier
Here are some ways fitness companies are making it simpler to stay in shape.
♦ Ever stare into the bathroom mirror and wish it could talk back? Supermodel (and St. Louis native!) Karlie Kloss and athletic wear company Lululemon are among the financial backers of Mirror, a New York maker of interactive, portable fitness mirrors that connect to the Internet. As you work out in front of the mirror, a personal coach leads you through classes, and the system shows your progress.
♦ Peloton immersive cardio bikes also use interactive home fitness technology. As you cycle, you work with an on-screen trainer who guides and encourages you via streaming video, either live or on demand.
♦ HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is an efficient way of doing intense cardio exercise at home for short periods of time. Recent research suggests that 60HIIT, which involves 6 to 10 one-minute bursts of exercise with a minute of rest in between, may be the most effective. There’s also Tabata training, a HIIT program that involves 20 seconds of exercise with 10 seconds of rest in between, for a total of 8 rounds.
♦ Some area gyms like Club Fitness, Life Time Fitness and Wellbridge Athletic Club offer childcare services and kids’ activities so the little ones can have fun while you sweat.
it’s a date!
There’s no doubt about it—a happy relationship does wonders for your mood and well-being, which truly benefits your overall health. If you’re still looking for a permanent plus-one, it might be a good time to polish up your dating and relating skills to boost your chances of success. Whether you’re in your 20s or your 60s, here are some love-life lessons you can put to work in the new year.
Did you know?
A fulfilling relationship can help your mental health! It:
▶ provides a constructive focus for your attention and energy.
▶ gives you time and encouragement to pursue things that support your well-being.
▶ provides a buffer from the effects of stress and adversity.
Flying solo can affect your physical health just as much as being in love. Feeling lonely can raise your level of cortisol, a stress hormone, which may compromise your immune system and increase your risk of heart disease.
the science of love
There’s a reason they call it ‘chemistry’ when sparks fly between two people. Your body responds to romantic feelings by producing chemicals and hormones that affect your mood and outlook. The three stages of love are affected by different substances in the body and brain:
➊ Desire is related to the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.
➋ Attraction is affected by levels of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
➌ Attachment or long-term bonding is linked to the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.
dating do’s and don’ts in 2020
Going out with someone new can be nerve-wracking, especially when you’re meeting for the first time. It can be tough to think of things to talk about or find common interests. Here’s a little advice to help you converse, connect and date successfully in the new year.
♦ Listen as much as (or more than) you talk. Think of the conversation like a tennis match where you and your date get equal time sending questions and answers back and forth. Being a thoughtful listener is definitely the more important skill!
♦ Be wary of the person who shares deep secrets too soon or expects you to do the same. Sensitive information might be unwelcome in the early stages of a relationship. There’s plenty of time to talk about serious stuff later on if you happen to hit it off.
♦ Don’t dump negative info. Never use a date as an opportunity to complain or vent. Airing too much personal drama can create a false sense of intimacy, and bitterness may drive the other person away. It’s best to share those details later, when you understand each other better.
♦ Check out your date’s social media habits. Are there a lot of posts that show the person overindulging or being rude? If so, it might be time to move on to the next prospect.
good questions to ask on a first date
Who are the most important people in your life?
What makes you laugh?
Where is ‘home’ for you?
Do you have a dream you’re pursuing?
What do your Saturdays usually look like?
What’s your big passion?
What’s on your bucket list?
Who is the most fascinating person you know?
What’s your most valuable possession?
Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Psychology Today, harvard.edu, eharmony.com