Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND
Welcome to 2016, a leap year with one extra day to help all of us fulfill our New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like many Americans, you’ve resolved to do things that will improve your health, like finally getting active.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which advise government nutrition policies for the next five years. The message was clear – when it comes to achieving a healthy weight, balance is key. With that, I’ve resolved to get more balance in all aspects of my life. What does this mean? I’m trying to incorporate more activities that soothe my mind, lessen stress, and improve my overall well-being. Here are some examples:
- Movement Reminders: I tend to sit at my desk for long periods of time, getting stiff and stressed. I now set a reminder on my iPhone that prompts me to get up, stretch, and move every 45 minutes. These short 1-2 minute breaks are a wonderful way for me to calm my mind and soothe my body.
- Shorter Fitness Walks: I tend to avoid working out if I think it’s taking too much time—it’s easy to come up with excuses, right?—so I’m now doing shorter 10-minute walks on my office treadmill. Just one week into the New Year, and I’ve already gotten more steps in one week than I got in all of December!
- Soothing Breathing: Santa brought me a new activity tracker, which has a heart rate monitor. I marvel at how I can slow my breathing, slow my heart rate, and gently and easily reduce my feelings of stress.
- Sweet Rewards: I have an afternoon sweet tooth. Some days I grab a small piece of dark chocolate, other days I’ll sip on my favorite beverage, a chocolate cherry soda. Choosing a diet or zero calorie beverage helps me achieve balance in my calorie intake.
- Expressing Gratitude: I end each work day be saying out loud three things I’m grateful for that happened during my day in my home office. By focusing on the positives, I end each work day with a lower stress level and more upbeat, positive outlook.
Will I continue these activities throughout the year? They’re all easy to do, and I can see almost instant results, so I can confidently say the answer is yes. With these guidelines, I hope we can all find ways to achieve better balance in 2016.
Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, is a registered dietitian nutritionist who has lived well with Type I diabetes for more than 37 years. The owner of Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, LLC, she consults with a variety of food and beverage clients on issues related to nutrition and health.