By Kelly Quinn
Summer is just about over — can you believe it?! The calendar may give us until Sept. 21, but we all know that back-to-school time means back to reality … vacations are fading into a memory … and the hectic schedule has picked right back up.
As you keep the household running smoothly and cart the kids to and from school activities, it’s easy to forget about yourself and your needs, especially your health.
“Women tend to put themselves last,” Patricia Briest, MS, FNP-BC, health coach for Franciscan’s Take Shape for Life weight loss program, said. “Women wake up on New Year’s Day and realize how much weight they’ve put on since summer. They’ve been so busy through the fall, the holidays come, and before they know it, they’ve gained weight. It’s sad because they’re unhappy with themselves.”
Briest stresses the importance of making small changes, as they can have a big impact. “If you eat just 200 extra calories a day, you can gain 10 pounds lickety split and not even realize it,” she said. “If you cut back by 150 to 200 calories a day, and keep active, your weight will go down.”
Her advice: cut down your caloric intake by keeping a food diary for a few days — one bite here and one bite there add up.
“It helped me to do all my cooking on a Sunday,” Briest added. “I prepared salads, vegetables and other side dishes. If you have those things available, you’ll eat them. If not, you’ll grab bad choices. Pair them with meatless burgers from the freezer, and you have a healthy dinner!”
MaryBeth Borio, DPT, Cert MDT, clinical coordinator at St. Joseph’s Outpatient Physical Therapy at Northeast Medical Center, suggested sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store, where the healthy items are located. “When I go to the store, I use food labels to determine the benefit of what I’m taking in,” she said. “It’s like a pharmacy — how can I get my vitamin C?”
Borio recommended focusing on healthy grains and avoiding “empty calories,” which come in the form of enriched flour, sugar and processed foods, because healthy grains fill you up faster and will keep you fueled throughout the day. Your energy levels won’t plummet, making it easier to stick to a new exercise routine, she added. And according to the Department of Health and Human Services, adults should do a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or two-and-a-half hours, Borio said.
“It’s manageable when you consider that you can become healthier with as little as 30 minutes per day,” Borio said. “Making the commitment is No. 1. Not only will you lose weight and feel better, you’re sending a strong message to your children when you stay active. Actions speak louder than words.”
Simple ideas from both experts: keep hand weights in the car and do reps when you’re waiting for your children; park farther away at work; walk up the stairs instead using the elevator; do a lap around the field during games. “Breaking up exercise over the course of the day is just fine,” Borio said. “You will still get the benefit. Studies have shown that small changes can result in significant changes in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels, improving sleep and decreasing anxiety and depression.”
Add something you enjoy to your routine. If you’re bored, you won’t stick with it. Some food for thought: It takes 21 days to create a habit. Just think where you’ll be in 21 days if you start right now!