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
- 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
- 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
Williams also shares three other stress management tips that you can start
- 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.