Making some small tweaks and following some simple advice will help you get to a healthier and happier you.
WATCH YOUR WAISTLINE:
Measure your height, then measure your waist. Measure around your tummy button – and don’t cheat by breathing in lol! Your waist should be no more than half the length of your height. This is important because we know that tummy fat surrounds your organs and secretes hormones, which increases your risk of metabolic syndrome, insulin problems, blood pressure, cholesterol problems and heart disease. In studies, people with the biggest waistlines died 17 years earlier than average. If you need to lose weight, have a look at your diet and see where you can tighten up. You’re not going to lose weight by doing 100 sit-ups a day – you do it by changing your diet and reducing your portion size.
SIZE UP YOUR SLEEP
If you agree with any of the following statements you need to improve your sleep: I find it difficult to fall asleep/I lie awake for long periods/I wake up several times a night/ I rarely wake up refreshed/I feel groggy and irritable in the day. Routine is very good for sleep, so try to get into a regular pattern rather than bingeing on sleep at the weekend. A decent mattress, proper curtains that block out the light and comfortable cotton sheets are all important for a good kip – look at what you need and take advantage in the sales. You need to be comfortable and completely in the dark - that means no light blinking on your laptop or phone lighting up every time you get a text or whatsapp. If you like watching Netflix in bed, try turning the brightness down.
COUNT YOUR VEG
Write down everything you ate yesterday and count the number of fruit and vegetables. This UK NHS website is great for checking what counts as a portion: www.nhs.uk/livewell/5aday. The latest advice is to aim for 7-a-day, and it should be more veg than fruit, so you don’t have too much sugar. Eating 7-a-day has been shown to cut risk of death by any cause by 42% - nearly half. But instead of glugging smoothies and juices – you shouldn’t have more than one 150ml glass a day of these – think ‘Can I incorporate extra veg into my meal? You could even try courgette spaghetti or sweet potatoe fries. Stir it into whatever you’re cooking or have it on the side. A good tip is to wrap half courgetti and half butternut squash spaghetti with a piece of fish, lemon juice and butter in tin foil and bake it in the oven for 10 minutes – easy to make and nutritious! One thing you should bear in mind, however, is that the 7-a--day advice isn’t for growing kids. If you fill them up with just seven fruit and veg so they’re stuffed but they haven’t had any calories, they’ll be malnourished. They need carbs because they’re growing and running about.
FIGURE OUT YOUR FITNESS
Plot a mile, walk it briskly and time it – 15 minutes is good, 15-20 minutes is average, 20 minutes+ and you need to improve your fitness. Being fit is important for heart health, but should you get ill, need an operation or get pregnant, being fitter will mean your recovery goes smoother. Also, the fitter you are the more you can relax with your diet, because the more energy efficient your muscles are the more calories you burn doing absolutely nothing! People think they hate exercise because they didn’t like PE at school. I’m rubbish at team sports so I get that, but there’s plenty of other things you can do. It should feel fun and social rather than a hideous hour’s torture. That could be a spin class, a brisk walk with a friend or a workout DVD. There are lots of options so try some and see what you like. The first time will be a bit of a shock, but you don’t have to do a full hour – I’ts better to start gently and build up.
ASSESS YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE
Answer “yes” twice to any of the following questions and you need to cut down your drinking: Have you ever felt you needed to cut back? Have you felt annoyed by people criticising your drinking? Have you ever felt guilty about boozing? Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing to steady your nerves or ease a hangover? Alcohol is very toxic, yet some people have it every night. We’re also very unsure about units: a large glass of wine is three; a bottle of beer nearly two; an alcopop 1.5; a single shot and mixer 1.4. Government advice is that we should be drinking no more than 14 units a week. A glass of wine with dinner isn’t a problem, but a bottle of wine and no dinner is. Dry January is like crash-dieting; it doesn’t teach you better habits. A better habit may be to have a glass of wine with dinner every other night instead of every night.
TAKE THE STRESS TEST
Answer “no” to two or more statements and you may need to work on your stress levels: I feel organised and in control/I confide in at least one person about personal worries/I do something fun or relaxing at least once a week/ I am calm when kept waiting or stuck in traffic. Don’t mask your stress with booze, fags or junk food. Find a healthy stress-buster that works for you. It could be exercise, mindfulness apps or a hobby that gives you some time to yourself. If you feel swamped at work or at home, ask your boss, your partner or your family for help. There’s no weakness in saying you’re not coping well, it shows confidence. Also make sure you’re getting enough sleep, you’re eating well and you’re moving enough. And don’t be a slave to your phone, laptop or tablet either. If you feel like you want to chuck your phone out the window if you get another WhatsApp message, switch it off for a bit & take a break from social media.
Come into Castletown Pharmacy to talk to a pharmacist.