By Submitted Story on January 6, 2023
If we could speak to our future selves, what would we discover? Most likely that the lifestyle decisions we make today will impact our quality of life as we age.
The American College of LIfestyle Medicine reminds us that being mindful about food choices, managing stress, being physically active, avoiding risky substance use, getting plenty of sleep, and having a strong emotional support system greatly increase the odds of preventing, treating, and even reversing chronic disease and certain autoimmune diseases.
Perhaps you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to improve your health with a promise to give up a vice, or exercise more, or even convert to a plant-based diet. That’s excellent. Do you have a plan? Often these types of resolutions are tough to achieve without considering the roadblocks to success.
“With the new year and resolutions, we tend to take an all-or-nothing approach,” said Marielle Silk, FNP-BC, family nurse practitioner, ACLM-certified lifestyle medicine practitioner, and certified tobacco treatment specialist at The Outer Banks Hospital Center for Healthy Living. “What we try to do in our practice is to encourage patients to make small lifestyle changes that they can build on and sustain by incorporating them into a normal daily routine.”
“If we know that a patient doesn’t have time to go to the gym, we work with them to carve out any opportunity to engage in more natural movement, like parking farther away or doing squats while brushing their teeth…even having family dance parties in the living room. It doesn’t have to be going to a gym to make it count.”
Silk adds, “If stress is impacting their health, we counsel them to take their lunch break and add a walk outside during that time, because sunlight helps to improve mood as well as the immune system.”
The same goes for diet. While many believe eating healthy is too time consuming, Silk offers this perspective; “It’s important to be realistic about what’s going to work in your life. Make sure your pantry and your freezer are stocked with things that are quick and easy. So instead of having to chop a melon, what about a banana or some-thing you can just grab and rinse, like an apple or berries.”
Silk recommends taking a nourish-and-nurture approach. “Be compassionate and don’t deprive yourself. Instead, be mindful about your life and consider how your health habits are impacting you.” Your future self will be grateful.
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