Upgrade Yourself, Upgrade Your Health

Carol Ann Brannon

Have you ever made the decision while traveling to upgrade from coach to first-class? Traveling in first-class is less stressful, the food is better, the seats are more comfortable, and overall the experience more enjoyable. First-class travellers intentionally pay extra because perks of upgrading are well worth the cost.

Just as traveling in first-class is more comfortable, enjoyable, and less stressful, so is traveling through life in a healthy body – and it’s not nearly as costly!

Why am I telling you this? I want to motivate and empower you to upgrade your health now!
An upgrade is “the act or process of improving.” People are generally eager and willing to upgrade to their possessions (cars, computers, cell phones, TV’s, and other gadgets), but seldom invest the time, effort, and energy necessary to upgrade their health. People often opt for a quick fix by choosing to diet, paying for home-delivery of prepared meals, or adhering to a prescribed menu. However, research show that diets do not work in the long-term. In fact, two-thirds of dieters who lose weight end up regaining their weight plus additional pounds. What does work?

        1. Upgrading your eating and exercise habits;
        2. Being intentional in what and how much you eat, and
        3. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine.

The most effective way to upgrade your health is to reset your eating habits, refresh your routine to include exercise, and delete the diet mentality. Upgrading your health leads to wellness; waking up feeling rested and refreshed; plenty of energy; focus; improved memory; optimistic attitude; positive stress management; resistance to illness; and freedom from aches and pains. Doesn’t that sound great? It’s within your grasp!

Upgrading or changing habits begins with owning them. When you are positive and proactive, you take responsibility for your health. Habits are things you do repeatedly, without even thinking about them. So think about them. For example, perhaps you compulsively and excessively snack on junk food while watching TV. Ask yourself: “what triggers my snacking? How do I feel before, during, and after snacking? What does mindless eating ‘cost’ me?”

Be honest, take time for self-reflection, then intentionally choose new habits. In this example, you could make a list of things you to do in the evenings when you find yourself snacking the most. Whatever you come up with — take the dog for a brisk walk, help coach your child’s ball team, take up an old hobby such as scrapbooking, tackle home improvement projects you’ve put off, or start a new book with your child – choose to take decisive action. And while you’re at it, practice positive self-talk. Replace thoughts like “I will not eat pretzels and ice cream tonight,” with “I will walk the dog and have a juicy piece of fresh fruit when I return.”

A healthy diet is one that includes an abundance of functional foods; foods that promote wellness and offer disease protection. Functional foods include: whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, wild Alaskan salmon, and low-fat organic dairy foods. Follow these 10 tips for upgrading your diet and health:

        1. Plan your menus and snacks; shop from a grocery list; keep a daily food and exercise record.
        2. Eat breakfast; do not skip meals.
        3. Eat a variety of colorful whole foods (dark green, red, purple, orange, yellow); purchase organic produce, low-fat dairy foods, and meats whenever possible.
        4. Practice portion-control; eat in moderation. .
        5. Eat mostly whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta; limit intake of refined (white) carbohydrates.
        6. Focus on fiber-rich foods (whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables).
        7. Choose “real” whole foods over processed snack foods (baby carrots and dip, salsa and baked corn chips, or hummus and whole grain crackers).
        8. Focus on the “good” fats (nuts, seeds, canola and olive oil, fish). Avoid any foods with even a trace of trans fats, as well as foods containing saturated or hydrogenated fats.
        9. Drink 6 to 8 (8-ounces) glasses of water daily.
        10. Make exercise a part of your daily routine. A total of 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week is key for weight loss; find something you enjoy, then “just do it!”

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