By Kelly Constant, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon.
It’s no secret that two of the biggest risk factors for developing diabetes are a family history of diabetes and being overweight. There’s not much you can do about your family history, but there is a lot you can do to work toward a healthy and active lifestyle.
However, getting started (or restarted) on a weight loss program or fitness routine to manage your risk factors can be intimidating. Although we’ve likely all heard the basics – eat better, manage your portions and move more – they are often easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you start integrating better nutrition and more movement into your life:
- Set up your environment in such a way that you don’t have to make the choice to be healthy. For example, fill your fridge with only healthy foods, so you don’t have to choose between an apple and ice cream.
- Try exercising first thing in the morning. Get up, and get it done so you don’t spend the whole day thinking of excuses not to do it.
- Stand when you normally would sit. From a health perspective, standing is far superior to sitting, and it’s something easy to integrate in your life.
- Start with activities that are easy on the joints: walking, elliptical machine, biking, swimming or yoga.
- Park several blocks away from your office and walk to work. If you ride the bus, hop off a few stops early.
- Experiment with new recipes. You don’t have to give up your favorite guilty pleasures. Just try making them with alternative ingredients.
One of the biggest challenges with any significant lifestyle change is just sticking with it after the first couple of weeks or days. We tend to set big, often unattainable goals for ourselves. Instead, try some of the following suggestions for wellness success.
- Find a support network. Most people who are successful in changing a lifestyle factor have support and accountability. This can be a spouse, personal trainer, friend, even an online community.
- Start with one or two small changes, like cutting back on desserts or eating more vegetables, instead of changing everything about your wellness routine at once.
- Make your wellness goals specific and manageable – such as “I am going to walk for 30 minutes before work two times next week,” instead of a tougher goal like, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds.”
- Focus on the healthy things you can add to your diet, such as whole wheat or fruit.
- Make it easy on yourself. Working out doesn’t have to mean an expensive gym membership or a complicated routine. It can just be putting on a pair of tennis shoes and going for a walk.