And save money on healthcare!
I’m writing this post on New Year’s Day. Typical of the day, I’m also pondering a few questions.
What did I learn last year about staying healthy? What have I done well in my quest to be healthier and save money? What can I do better this year?
As so many of us know, healthcare is unreasonably expensive. My goal the last few years has been to exercise more, eat sensibly, and stress less. By staying healthy I avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor and save money. Last year my biggest health expense was an eye exam and a new pair of glasses.
A few lifestyle changes can go a long way to keeping us healthier and wealthier. In November, the American Cancer Society released a study that showed over 40% of cancers are caused by poor health choices: smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol, etc. Cancer is one of the leading causes of medical bankruptcy in this country!
So how can I improve upon my healthy living plan this year?
Exercise more, sit less
Last year I had to admit that I was sitting waaaay too much every day, and my muscles, joints and cardio were suffering for it.
My husband and I joined a local gym and I worked with a physical trainer to develop an exercise program that worked for my goals—strength, flexibility, bone health and cardiac health. I’ve always been more of a bookworm than a gym rat, so it was a difficult transition. But once I started to feel the difference in my body (and my mood!), I was hooked.
Studies show that it takes about six weeks to make a new behavior a habit. I think that was just about how long it took for me to make getting up earlier in the morning and getting to the gym a routine part of my day.
I also tried to be more aware of how much I was sitting every day (the downside of being a writer) and make myself get up at least once every hour and walk around or do another activity.
I admit I need to do better. I can still become absorbed in what I am writing about and sit at my desk for several hours straight. Definitely room for improvement here.
Eat/drink fewer carbs
An interesting study that came out last year was one that showed a diet high in carbs was actually worse than a diet high in fat.
I never really gave much thought to how many carbs were in my diet before. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I don’t drink diet sodas, so I assumed whatever carbs I ate were OK. But it appears that even “good” carbs, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, can be harmful if we eat too many.
So I paid more attention and cut back in several ways. I switched to a brand of whole grain bread (Dave’s Killer Bread) that comes in thinner, smaller slices.
I bought a “zoodle” maker and replaced pasta with zucchini in many of my favorite recipes.
I stopped drinking orange juice with breakfast (this saves money, too!).
Mostly, I ate smaller portions of food, especially fruits, such as half an apple rather than a whole one, or a few berries on my cereal, rather than a whole bowl of just berries.
However, I still find myself making and eating the same comfort foods (in other words, pasta) over and over again. Yes, this is another area where I can try to do better.
This year I want to be more creative and look for new recipes that are both delicious and low in carbs. And easy to make because I am a lazy cook 🙂
Spend more time with friends
A few weeks ago a study came out that showed “SuperAgers,” men and women over the age of 80 who still had excellent memories, tended to be friendlier and more social than their peers with Alzheimer’s.
I’ve posted many times how important it is to stay connected as we age. Friends keep us active, physically and mentally. They support us through difficult times, make us laugh, and generally make life more worth living.
And just last week when my brother-in-law passed away, I witnessed how indispensable friends and family are at the end of life, comforting the dying and supporting those left behind.
I’m always willing to help friends and family in need. I think because I am so comfortable with illness and hospitals, I am happy to go to doctors’ appointments, sit in waiting rooms and help navigate our crazy system.
But too often I put off getting together with friends just for fun because of self-imposed deadlines and to-do lists. I have to keep asking myself, “What will I feel better about at the end of the day? Having lunch or playing mahjongg (my favorite game!) with friends, or ticking ‘wash the windows’ off my to-do list?”
I need to embrace my friendships as much as I do exercise and healthy food. They are equally important parts of a healthy lifestyle.
Overall, I’m very happy with what I accomplished (yay, me!) in 2017, and hope 2018 will be a healthy and happy year, too.
Happy New Year,