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Start simple, be well

Have you made a new year’s resolution that you are yet to keep? Did you say that 2010 was the year that you would lose those excess kilos, lower your blood pressure, stop smoking and generally be well? Sometimes we can set such high expectations that the very idea of keeping our resolutions becomes overwhelming. Being well is a lifelong journey so pace yourself. If you haven’t been able to keep your resolutions, why don’t you simplify, resolve to make better choices for yourself everyday. To that end, here are two things you can do today to live healthier without breaking your back or breaking the bank.

Walk, walk, walk.

    Walking is easy, low impact and pretty much anyone 2 to 82 can do it. It doesn’t require expensive equipment or extensive training; you just need two legs, walking shoes and road to burn. There are countless health benefits of walking. Lowering blood pressure, reducing risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and reducing bad cholesterol, weight control and mood elevation to mention a few.

    Here are few tips to make your walking effective and safe.

    1. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Flip flops are not really best for long distances or speed walking. A sneaker/tennis shoe with adequate support would be best.
    2. When walking outdoors be mindful of protecting your skin from the sun. The old school of thought was that Africans didn’t need to worry about the sun; however because of environmental changes those ideas are somewhat obsolete. It is advisable to wear sunscreen or protective clothing if one is walking outside especially when the sun is at its peak.
    3. Stay hydrated. A hydrated body is an efficient body. We should all be aiming for eight to ten glasses of water a day as a rule.
    4. Warm up and stretch. Spend about five minutes gradually increasing your pace until your body gets warm before progressing to your desired pace. After warming up, stretch out your muscles as this prevents injury.
    5. Cool down and stretch. When you are about to come to the end of your walking session, don’t stop abruptly, gradually slow your pace down as this reduces stress on your heart and muscles. Stretch once you come to a stop.

    Cut down or cut out alcohol

    While good wine can have health benefits, alcohol in general can be harmful to your body and certainly can have a negative impact on maintaining a healthy weight. Alcohols are typically made by fermenting various sources of sugar and as a result they contain a fair amount of calories. For example 1gram of carbohydrates is about 4 calories, while 1 gram of alcohol generally yields about 7 calories.

    Here is a breakdown of typical cocktails and drinks

    A five-ounce glass of wine 125 calories
    - Mint Julep (10 ounces), 210 calories.
    - Bloody Mary (1.5 ounces vodka), 130 calories.
    - Pina colada (8 ounces), 465 calories.
    - Long Island iced tea (8 ounces), 225 calories.
    - Screwdriver (7.5 fl. oz.) 175 calories
    - Gin and Tonic (7.5 fl. oz). 170 calories
    - Margarita (8 ounces), 300 calories.
    - Rum (1 jigger) 125 calories
    - Scotch Whiskey (1 jigger) 115 calories
    - Tequila (1 jigger) 115 calories
    - Vodka (1 jigger) 125 calories

    Just incorporating these two activities into your lifestyle will yield significant health benefits. Being well doesn’t always require a drastic life shift, all we need is to make conscious decisions that ultimately celebrate and affirm our best selves.

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