Thursday, January 29, 2009

HBR Thursday - Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better Series

Celebrate the Beauty of Youth

Want to feel better, look better, and have more energy? Moving more and eating better is the best place to start

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Why Move More and Eat Better?

Being physically active and making smart food choices is good for your health. But that is not the only reason to move more and eat better. It can also help you:

Have more energy.
Look good in hip, trendy clothes.
Tone your body (without losing your curves).
Reduce stress, boredom, or the blues.
Feel good about yourself.

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Tips on Moving More

Physical activity can be fun! Do things you enjoy, like:

fast walking
playing sports
group fitness classes, such as dance or aerobics

If you can, be physically active with a friend or a group. That way, you can cheer each other on, have a good time while being active, and feel safer when you are outdoors. Find a local school track or park where you can walk or run with your friends, or join a recreation center so you can work out or take a fun fitness class together.

Think you do not have time for physical activity? The good news is that you can be active for short periods of time throughout the day and still benefit. When fitting in physical activity, remember that any activity is better than none. So try to move more by making these small changes to your daily routine:

Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way (be sure the area is safe).
Park your car farther away and walk to your destination.
Walk to each end of the mall when you go shopping.
Take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator (make sure the stairs have working lights).
Put physical activity on your to-do list for the day. For example, plan on exercising right after work, before you can get distracted by dinner or going out.

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Look Good as You Get Fit

If you avoid physical activity because you do not want to ruin your hairstyle, try:

a natural hairstyle
a style that can be wrapped or pulled back
a short haircut
braids, twists, or locs

TIP: Day-to-day activities can cause salt build-up in your hair. To remove salt, shampoo with a mild, pH-balanced product at least once a week.

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Tips on Eating Better

Eating right can be hard when you do not feel like cooking or there is a fast food place on every corner. Here are some simple things you can do to eat better:

Start every day with breakfast. Try a low-fat, whole-grain breakfast bar; fat-free or low-fat yogurt; or whole-grain toast or bagel spread with a little peanut butter, jam, or low-fat cream cheese.

Eat more fruits and vegetables, and choose whole grains like 100 percent whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, or brown rice instead of refined grains like white bread and white rice.

Choose low-fat or fat-free milk instead of whole milk or a milkshake.

Order a plain hamburger (without sauce or mayonnaise) or a grilled (not fried) chicken sandwich. Skip the fries and try a salad with fat-free or low-fat dressing instead.

Go easy on mayonnaise, creamy sauces, and added butter.

Do not keep a lot of sweets like cookies, candy, or soda in the house. Too many sweets can crowd out healthier foods.

Rather than eliminate your favorite home-cooked foods, prepare them in slightly different ways: bake chicken instead of frying it; cook with extra herbs rather than extra butter; and reduce the amount of salt you use.

TIP: Many food labels say "low-fat," "reduced fat," or "light." That does not always mean the food is low in calories. Sometimes fat-free or low-fat muffins or desserts have even more sugar than the full-fat versions. Remember, fat-free does not mean calorie-free, and calories do count!

Many people think that bigger is better. We are so used to value-size servings that it is easy to eat more than our bodies need. Eating smaller portions will help you cut down on calories and fat (and might save you money too).

Even take-out and high-fat foods can be part of a balanced diet, as long as you do not eat them every day and do not eat too much of them. Here are sensible serving sizes for some favorite foods:

french fries: one small serving (equal to a child's order)
shrimp fried rice (as a main dish): 1 cup
cheese pizza: two small slices or 1 large slice

TIP: Do you eat in front of the TV out of habit? Do you eat when you are bored, nervous, or sad? Be aware of when, where, and why you eat, and try to eat balanced meals throughout the day. Instead of reaching for that cookie, do something else, like calling a friend or taking a walk.

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Out 'n' About
You can hang out with your friends and still make healthy food choices. Try these tips when you are out 'n' about:

Encourage your friends to make healthy choices with you. If you are all on the same page, it might be easier for you—and your friends—to avoid temptation.
Order vegetable toppings on pizza instead of salty, high-fat meats like pepperoni or sausage.
Share popcorn (and skip the added butter) at the movies instead of getting your own bag, or order the smallest size. You will save money too!
Choose bottled water instead of soda and other artificially sweetened beverages like punch or natural fruit juices.
Munch on pretzels or vegetables at parties instead of fried chips or fatty dips.
If you drink wine, beer, or other alcohol, limit yourself to one drink. Alcohol has lots of calories but little nutritional value.

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You can do it!
Set doable goals. Move at your own pace. Let your family and friends help you. Allow for setbacks, and be sure to celebrate your successes. Keep trying—you can do it!

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To Learn More

Check out MyPyramid, an interactive website from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for more information about physical activity and healthy eating.

Source: NIH Publication No. 08–4903
September 2008

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