10 tips to ensure a healthier 2013

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Winter fitness takes a little more planning and motivation to stay warm. | File photo

Have you made your New Year’s resolution to live a more healthful lifestyle? We asked experts at the Will County Health Department to give us their top 10 tips that lead to a healthier lifestyle. Here’s what they told us.

1. Stop smoking.

“No question … it’s one of the few things that has nothing good attached to it,” said John Kahler, chief medical officer of the Will County Community Health Center.

Michelle Marek, program coordinator for Will County Health Department Tobacco Control and Prevention Program reiterated — there’s nothing good about smoking.

“Within 20 minutes of smoking your last cigarette, the body begins to go through a series of changes … good changes such as, lowering of blood pressure and pulse rate in addition to an improvement in your nerve endings and taste buds. Carbon monoxide levels return to normal within the next 12 hours and breathing becomes easier,” Marek said.

2. Increase your exercise.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym. It can be as simple as a little bit of walking — use stairs instead of the elevator to go up one flight. Get up out of your seat and walk to talk to someone instead of sending them an email — these are very simple things that will get you up and moving,” Kahler said.

3. Pay attention to your weight.

“Figure out what a healthy weight really is … use not only the BMI (Body Mass Index) [a] universally recognized standard for healthy weight in relation to height, use the mirror — it’s a good starting point to attempt to get your weight to some area of healthy,” Kahler explained.

4. Nutrition.

Cut down your fried foods and red meat, increase vegetables and fruit as well as drink more water. Avoid caffeine and sugar.

5. Consume less alcohol.

“Nobody says you can’t have any alcoholic drinks,” Kahler said.

He believes that everything in moderation is key.

6. Arm yourself with knowledge.

Kahler said the best thing a person can do is to make himself aware of the appropriate screening tests needed for preventative illness according to their age.

7. Pay attention to blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose control [as it relates to diabetes].

8. Foster deeper levels of intimacy in your close relationships.

Kahler recommended getting in contact with an old friend.

“Actually call someone up — not texting or using Facebook — to connect,” he said. Additionally, Joseph Troiani, Ph.D., director of behavioral health programs for Will County Health Department recommended starting during the holidays because this is usually a time to reconnect with family, friends and loved ones.

9. Have a positive attitude.

Having a positive attitude will help you start the New Year off right.

“Your attitude drives everything that happens in your life,” Troiani said.

10. Make lists.

“As you make decisions to make changes in your life, it’s a good idea to write stuff down and/or journal,” Troiani said.

Kahler went a step further to suggest using a SMART (S-specific, M-measureable, A-achievable, R-realistic, T-timely) goal list to help you make and reach your goals.

Troiani said that the list might vary depending on the person and their life experiences. While that is true, this list can serve as a great gauge to incorporate more healthful practices into your lifestyle to finally get to that new you this New Year without further delay.

Writer Rhonda Alexander contributed to the book “The Entrepreneur Within You,” which is available at http://theentrepreneurwithin.org and www.barnesandnoble.com.