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Healthy Living: 8 Steps to Take Today

Healthy living starts right now. Experts tell you how.

Healthy Living Step No. 4: Upgrade your diet.

Williams, a nutritionist for a dozen years, says her diet advice isn't about eating certain foods and avoiding others as much as it is about awareness and choices. Here are her pointers:

  • Replace "I should" with "I choose." So instead of "I should be eating more fruits and vegetables," it's "I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables" or "I choose not to," because it's more powerful language," Williams says. "It shows that you're in control, you're making the choice. So if you choose to or you choose not to, you make the choice and you move on."
  • Skip the guilt. "Usually, whenever someone feels guilty about something, it feeds right back to the behavior that they're trying to get rid of," Williams says. "So if someone is an emotional eater and they say, 'I know I shouldn't be doing this," it implies more guilt and judgment on themselves, they feel worse, and then they end up eating to comfort themselves."
  • Choose to plan. Stock your pantry with healthy fare and bring healthy snacks with you so you're prepared when you get hungry. "When we're really hungry, our physiology kicks in and that's when we're craving the hamburger and fries; we're not craving a salad," Williams says.
  • Slow down and savor your food. Don't watch TV, work, or drive while you're eating. "A lot of people tell me, 'My problem is that I really like food,' but I think that's a really good thing," Williams says. "If you really enjoy food, sit down and enjoy your meal. You're much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied if you don't multitask while you're eating."
  • Shoot for five to nine daily servings of varied fruits and vegetables. Cover the rainbow of fruit and vegetable colors to get a good mix of nutrients. "If you're not getting the rainbow, you're probably not getting all the nutrients that you need," Williams says.

Healthy Living Step No. 5: Manage stress.

As a wellness coach trained in stress management, Williams recommends making two different plans to handle stress.

  • Routine maintenance: Develop positive coping skills, such as meditation and visualization, and look for activities, such as yoga or exercise, to keep your baseline stress level in check.
  • Breakthrough stress: Find ways to handle stressful situations that flare up without warning. For instance, Williams says that after a stressful meeting at work, you might run up and down the stairs a few times to burn off anger, or retreat to a bathroom stall to take a few deep breaths and refocus.

Williams also shares three other stress management tips that you can start using immediately:

  • Check your perspective. Ask yourself, "Will this matter to me a year from now?" If not, why are you getting so wound up?
  • Volunteer. Helping to meet other peoples' needs may make your own problems seem smaller.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Write down the positive people, events, and things that you're thankful for. "It really switches the focus to, 'Wow, look how much I have," Williams says. "Most stress is caused by wishing things were different than they are now."
  • Breathe. One of the breathing exercises that Williams recommends is to count your breaths for a minute, and then try to cut that number of breaths in half for the next minute.

 

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