It’s Love Your Body Monday again, the last Monday of every month. It amazes me how fast the end of the month rolls around. How about you?
Today, I wanted us to focus on little changes we can make in our diet and exercise that can make HUGE differences over our lifetime. Sometimes drastic changes can seem overwhelming and we put off making them, unless forced to by illness or accident. But making small changes seems far more doable. Experts say that it takes three weeks for something to become a habit, so if we make a change for three weeks, it’s no longer a change but part of our daily life.
So here are two little changes that can make a big difference in your health:
- Cutback your caloric intake by 10%. That means for example if you normally eat 2000 calories a day, you eliminate 200 calories and eat 1800 calories. Here is a great website for a visual of what 200 calories looks like in various foods. You can eat a lot of some foods for 200 calories and a little of others. Here’s just an example:
Maybe you could even cut back 400 calories with the proper food choices, and still have more than enough to eat!
In a study reported in the Journal of Gerontology, a trial group ages 21-50 who were normal to moderately overweight, cut back their dietary intake 12% for 2 years. That would only be cutting back 240 calories from a 2000-calorie diet. They lost an average of 10% body weight, the average blood pressure dropped 4%, total cholesterol dropped 6%, and levels of inflammatory markers linked to heart disease were lowered by 47%!
Eating just a little less, had major health benefits!
Susan Roberts, one of the principal investigators for the test and a nutrition professor at Tufts University, confirms that weight loss is the key to living healthier:
“Especially for people who are overweight or obese, nothing is going to keep them healthier for longer than losing weight and keeping it off.”—Susan Roberts
Americans are living longer than ever before, but are they living healthier? How we spend our later years directly correlates with how we treat our body over the years:
“Diet is by far the most powerful intervention to delay aging and age-related diseases. If you look at all the interventions that have ever been tried, diet has proven superior to anything else.”—Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute.
- Find ways to move just a little more. No, you don’t have to join a gym or take up jogging to see benefits of movement.
A big concern for me, as an author who sits in front of the computer all day, is the findings that sedentary behavior is a risk factor for early death. It doesn’t matter that I walk three miles straight up and down a hill in the summer and walk on an elliptical for an hour in the winter. If I’m not finding ways to break up hours of sitting, I could be shaving as much as 10 years off my life.
Scientists tell us that you can’t exercise away all the unhealthy effects of sitting for hours. And it isn’t just sitting in front of a computer: maybe it’s sitting in front of the TV, traveling, knitting, or sewing . . . whatever keeps you sedentary instead of moving.
Hours spent sitting link to health issues like Type 2 Diabetes, which we talked about in last month’s blog Love Your Body–Prevent of Reverse Type 2 Diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, even in people who “exercise” regularly.
But here’s the good news: doing something besides sitting still, even fidgeting, has benefits. That is good news to me because I’m a major fidgeter. I have a footrest under my desk that allows me to move my feet back and forth while I type, which also moves my legs. When I sit, it drives my husband crazy that I always have a leg moving. I used to have an office in an upstairs loft without a bathroom, so I called going downstairs to the bathroom, my fitness run.
Now, I have a bathroom next to my office, which is still upstairs, so I climb up and downstairs all day to my office. In fact, our house has three levels. One visitor commented that we’ll never have heart trouble. I hear many people my age talking about wanting to be in a single level home, and I can understand when knees and hips start to wear out, but research suggests that if we stay at a healthy weight and move regularly, all those body parts last longer.
So yard work, chores around the house, doing laundry, cooking, getting up regularly if you do have to sit, all help with maintaining mobility, health, and our general outlook on life.
It’s a blessing that as a populace we’re living longer, but with every blessing comes responsibility. We need to use the extra years God gives us here on earth wisely. While we may sit to read our Bibles, Christians are called on to spread the Gospel far and wide, and that often requires getting up and getting out.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
What little things do you do to cut back on calories and/or move more?
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Quotes are from Time Magazine, February 22, 2016 article “It’s the Little Things” by Alexandra Sifferlin.