7 Health and Wellness Habits for a Healthier You in 2023Exercise and Nutrition
Another year has come and gone. Did you reach your health and wellness goals from 2022? Maybe you exceeded them and need new ones to keep you living your best life. If so, bravo to you.
But for the rest of us, we may have missed our weight loss goal by a few pounds or stopped short of finishing that 5K race. Or maybe we exercised but not enough to meet expert recommendations to maintain and improve our health. Perhaps our wellness goals were unrealistic in the first place, setting us up to miss them, a sure-fire recipe for disappointment.
Don’t despair. It’s all okay, says Carrie Bloemers, Director, Healthy Life Center – Education and Navigation at Lee Health. She oversees a team of health and wellness experts committed to providing high-quality, engaging educational programs and services that inspire and empower people to focus on their health and well-being.
“In life, it’s progress, not perfection,” Carrie says. “It’s a new year, and the time is now to set yourself realistic goals you can achieve to build up your momentum toward living your best life. We call our health and wellness experts ‘navigators’ because they help our patients and community members navigate the healthcare system to find the ideal providers and services for them.”
Carrie tapped team member Kat Galeos, a registered dietitian with Lee Health Community Outreach Dietitian, for some tips to start the new year strong.
- Begin a meditation practice: “Meditation doesn’t require you to be perfect,” Kat says. “It just requires, like everything else in life, that you start.” Meditation and mindfulness practices offer a variety of health benefits that help people manage anxiety, stress, depression, pain, and other challenges. Learn here how to get started.
- Eat four colors of the rainbow through fruits and vegetables daily. “There’s growing scientific evidence for eating a variety of different-colored fruits and veggies every day. U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend we fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables at each meal to get the most benefit.”
- Make friends and family a priority. “Get more socially connected to family, friends, and your community to have a happier and healthier life,” Kat says. “People who connect socially live longer than people who are less well connected.” Studies show isolation and loneliness can put your health at increased risk. “Look for new friendships, develop them, and if you value them, maintain them. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, to have a friend, be a friend.” Also, develop healthy activities you, your friends and your family can do together. Instead of sharing meals, do an activity together.
- Spend more time outside. “Exposure to natural light, specifically early in the morning, supports a healthy circadian rhythm,” Kat notes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the light/dark cycle of the sun has a powerful effect on the circadian clock, sleep, and alertness.
“Your body’s circadian clock responds to light, as a signal to awaken, and dark, as a signal to fall asleep,” Kat explains. The CDC recommends increasing the amount of light during the day to be more alert and darkening your bedroom room at night for better sleep.
Carrie weighs in with some of her own suggestions for improving your health and wellness in the new year.
- Track your sleep habits. “Pay attention to how good you feel after a night’s sleep,” Carrie says. “A good night’s sleep is the body’s best way to heal physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.” According to the CDC, so many Americans are not getting enough sleep – seven or more hours of sleep a night is recommended – that sleep deprivation has become a public health epidemic. Learn how to respect your sleep and get the rest your body needs.
- Create an attainable meal plan. “When it comes to shopping for groceries, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” Carrie says. “Creating a weekly meal plan can help you and your family maintain a healthful diet and manage their health and weight.” It can also save money if you buy in bulk and batch-cook meals and freeze them to save time with meal preparation. Get in touch with a Nutrition Therapy navigator to find the right nutrition program for you.
- Learn to cook! “Invest in skills that will make executing your meal plan easier,” Carrie advises. “Cooking can be enjoyable and fun to do with the whole family.”
The education and navigation teams at the Lee Health Healthy Life Centers are committed to providing high-quality, engaging educational programs and services that inspire and empower people to focus on their health and well-being.
The new year brings many opportunities to connect with other like-minded people, especially now with more in-person opportunities available. The Healthy Life Centers aim to inspire, motivate and encourage healthier lifestyles, and a calendar full of educational programs, events and services helps the education and navigation teams in the Centers do just that.
Even over the past couple of years, when the teams had to pivot to virtual classes, they still found ways to keep the program offerings plentiful and engaging.
“I encourage anyone looking to make health and wellness a priority in the new year to check out the Healthy Life Center programs, Carrie says.
There are several “Lunch & Learn” events planned this month, which allow you to spend a lunch hour learning about a specific topic from an expert while enjoying a complimentary, healthy lunch.
The “Lunch & Learn” events planned for January include:
- Taking Care of Your Heart, 12-1 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13. Join Shipley Cardiothoracic Center’s Catherine Murtagh Schaffer, AP-C, at the Healthy Life Center at Lee Health Coconut Point to break down the basics of heart health.
- Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy for Movement Disorders, 12-1 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13, at the Healthy Life Center Cape Coral, or Friday, Jan. 20, at the Healthy Life Center at Lee Health Coconut Point. These sessions feature George Mandybur, M.D., FACS, a neurosurgeon with Lee Physician Group. Dr. Mandybur specializes in functional neurosurgery focused on the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, essential tremors and other movement disorders.
- Cervical Cancer Screening Information, 12-1 p.m., Monday, Jan. 30. Join Frances Hutchinson, RN, an RN navigator with the Regional Cancer Center, at the Healthy Life Center at Lee Health Coconut Point to learn more about the importance of cervical cancer screening.
Beyond these “Lunch & Learns,” a variety of other programs are scheduled throughout the month, including cooking classes, balance and memory screenings, seminars on acupuncture, advance directives, estate planning and more.
Reach out to learn more about how Healthy Life Center’s programs can help you reach your best self in 2023 at 239-468-0050.
Lee Health Solutions’ registered dietitians are available for clients who receive a referral from their physician and those who are self-referred. Just give them a call and chat with someone who is guaranteed to provide you with the proper motivation.
For more information on local nutrition counseling options, prices and location options, call 239-424-3120.