Habits to Live By

The following is a list of bad habits Dr. Oz says will take years off our lives if we don’t pay attention.  He calls them 7 Deadly Sins. Some bad habits I had, many I did not, but the replacements are now all a part of my daily practice.  With the New Year upon us, now is the perfect time to practice good habits!  Do you need to make any adjustments?

Deadly habit 1: Not Stretching in the Morning

Moving your body and releasing stress first thing is critical to preparing for a day where you are in control of your body.

Replacement: The 7-Minute Stretch

You can come up with your own or try out the routine Dr. Oz does first thing when he gets out of bed.  It will center you for the day ahead and help you focus on taking good care of yourself.

(A nice big stretch before you sit up in bed is delicious. Pull your knees into your chest and give them a hug. Before your feet hit the floor, try stretch your arms overhead and slowly twist to your right then left.  Your body will reward you <3)

Deadly Habit 2: Not Eating Breakfast

If you don’t eat right when you wake up, your body senses a famine is coming and slows your metabolism to compensate. Then, when your body is presented food later, it’s ravenous and wants to pack it in, leading to binging with a slow metabolism – a recipe for weight gain.

Replacement: Have a Small Breakfast Ready To Go

Dr. Oz ‘s Magical Breakfast Blaster from YOU: On a Diet is a smoothie of blueberries, bananas, psyllium husks, flax, soy protein, and honey. The fiber in the psyllium and flax helps regulate your metabolism throughout the day. Or try peanut butter on whole wheat bread. It doesn’t have to be big, just a little metabolic kickstart.

(I cannot say enough about the recipes in this book.  My newest cookbook purchase that even my family is loving is Supermarket Healthy.  Simple, yummy recipes that list proteins, fiber and sugars for each serving.  Calories and fats are also lsted but protein and fiber are my main concerns. Melissa’s Morning Glory Muffins on page 27 are the perfect answer to breakfast on the run.)

Deadly Habit 3: Running Late

Being perpetually late adds unnecessary stress to your life and takes control away from you, giving it to the people you disappoint and to the clock. That added stress, in turn, can lead to chronic inflammation and high blood pressure, which are linked to all kinds of diseases.

Replacement: Set Your Watch (and clocks at home) 5 Minutes Ahead

It’s a simple trick that will help you make appointments, get out of the rush rut, and lower stress.  (This is so true, I HATE being late.)

Deadly Habit 4: Mindless Eating

Hitting the vending machine at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, raiding the pantry several times a day, eating through a bag of chips before we even realized we’ve opened them. We’re all guilty of eating without thinking about it sometimes. Problem is that often we are eating out of boredom, for a distraction, or to fill a hunger that can’t be met by food. And when we fill up on junk food, we add unhealthy calories, gaining fat and stressing our liver.

Replacement: Mindful Eating

Everything we eat should nourish us, and the ability to focus on that will help us all meet our goals of losing or maintaining weight. A simple solution is to pre-plan meals, especially snacks. On Sunday night, pack a variety of healthy snacks–12 almonds, one string cheese, 2 tablespoons of cranberries, 5 dark chocolates, 18 mini pretzels–in individual plastic bags for the week ahead. At 3pm on any day, you can reach for a baggie and know you are giving your body a good boost. (After my diagnosis, I have become very conscious of what I eat. I’ve recently read  Skinny Bitch which has made me become even MORE conscious. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it already.  WARNING: It’s not for the faint of heart. Dr. Oz also says that if you’re stuck with nothing but a vending machine, choose the peanut M & Ms.  OK!!!! )

Deadly Habit 5: Becoming a Couch Potato

Flopping down in front of the TV at the end of a long day can feel good, but it’s actually doing a world of hurt to your body. Your metabolism still needs a workout as the evening draws to a close. Without it, your muscle turns to fat. Every decade we increase our percentage of fat by 5%.

Replacement: Half Hour of Movement

Do squats while you watch TV, play with the kids, rearrange the closet, take a walk, do dishes, have a family dance party. Just figure out a way to get in a half hour of movement after dinner to give your metabolism something to do. (I like to get up during commercials when watching TV. But before you sit, consider a quick walk around the block, hula-hoop, or jump rope. Whatever you do, MAKE IT FUN!)

Deadly Habit 6: Disconnecting

So many of us pull away from the people who support us at exactly the times we need them most–when we’re going through a divorce, facing a financial crisis, feeling bad about our bodies. Adding the stress of bottled up emotions to already challenging times only leads to health problems down the road.

Replacement: Connecting

Human beings provide a social web that holds us all up. So call your mother, get back in touch with a college friend, make a plan to have coffee with an old work pal, send a thank you note to your high school teacher. If you surround yourself with support, you can weather the bad times with less stress and add years to your life.

(Social networking is wonderful for this but maybe have fun putting your thoughts to paper and send a card or a letter…Anyone else hearing Mr. Postman?? The Carpenters are my favorite version.)

Deadly Habit 7: Not Having a Bedtime

Kids have to be in bed at 8, but adults fill their evenings with TV, to-do lists, chores and more, falling into bed at a different (and later) time each night. That irregularity not only means fewer hours of sleep, but a lesser quality of sleep, both of which are causes of weight gain and disease.

Replacement: Planning A Bedtime

All of us need 7 and a half hours of sleep nightly to maintain good health, but sleeping well comes easy to few of us. It actually takes practice and routine, and it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Count back 7 hours from when you wake up and make that your bedtime. If it’s 10:30, then you should be heading to bed at 10pm.

(I can no longer survive on even just five hours of sleep.  I need a good 7.5 to 8 hours or I might as well stay home for the day. I count back from the time I need to wake and take it from there.)

Good luck and be well.  When we know better, we do better!

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