Healthy Habits from Home

30 March 2020
A woman measures out food at a table while talking to a man.

Weekly wellness tips from Leah Love Palmer, Healthy Living Director at the Dodge YMCA

It’s an interesting thing, how there’s solidarity in being alone right now. In an effort to continue our togetherness while apart, I would love to share with you some favorite tips and tricks, many learned in the Y's Weight Loss Program.

  1. Reflect on your goals. In this strange interlude of normal routines being paused, it can be very easy to forget our long-term health and wellness goals. Perhaps create a vision board, or simply journal. Think about what you want to feel like when we emerge from this season.
  2. Reflect on your environment.
    Quick tips: Move veggies and fruit to eye level in the fridge. Eat off a salad/small plate. Eat at the table only.

    While we are all home, it’s a great opportunity to take inventory of what and where we eat, play, sleep. If you open your fridge, are the options you want to reach for first eye level? A lot of times just moving our fruits and veggies to the upper shelves, and the cookie dough to the crisper drawers is a motivator to grab the more nutrient full snack first.

    Pay attention to where you are eating your meals. It can be helpful to still eat at the table. As we migrate more to the couches, it becomes easier to eat mindlessly, and that can really derail us from our goals.

    It’s also a great time to focus on our routines. It’s very easy to get lost in days running together as many of us have lost our normal. I encourage you to create a new normal! Set a routine as you normally would with a wakeup, meal times, snack times, and work out times. (If you need a quick-start check out YMCA @ Home!)
  3. Track screen time. Even if we are working from home, let’s take time to give our eyes and mind’s a break. Posture check!
  4. Set SMART goals. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. It’s important for our mental health that we continue thinking of our future, and creating an opportunity for small successes along the way can only boost our moods and get us closer to those long-term goals we reflected on in step one. Where do we start?

    Let’s say, for example, in step one your long-term goal was to lose 5 pounds and lower your cholesterol. Creating a SMART goal, and a series of SMART goals, is like taking little stepping stones to get us to that long-term goal. So SMART goal 1 could be, “I will drink eight, eight ounce glasses of water today. I will have one at 9am, 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm, 5pm, 6pm and 7pm. I will set an alarm on my phone to remind me.” You can try that for a couple of days, and then create another goal. The next one can be something like, “On Monday and Friday morning I will stream a workout at 8am and move for at least 15 minutes.” These goals should be as specific as possible.
  5. Go, Slow, Whoa. We do not want to characterize any food as "bad," however, it can be helpful to evaluate our food categories. We like to think of food in terms of nutrient density.

    One easy way to think about it is that fresh foods that need to be eaten quickly are GO foods, whereas foods that have a long shelf life and are full of preservatives are WHOA foods. The more nutrient dense a food, the more likely it will fall into the green light, GO category. For example, we know that broccoli is full of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and much more. Broccoli is typically a GO food for many.

    Now let’s think about store bought potato chips. Not many nutrients there. That doesn’t mean they’re a NO, it means they can be a WHOA, something you eat sparingly. (Pay attention to serving sizes.) If you’re really craving potato chips, you can make your own using this recipe, and that can help move them to the SLOW category.
  6. Staying Active at Home! In addition to the YMCA @ Home virtual workouts, there are a few tactics to increase activity at home, not only for our bodies, but for our minds. The first thing you can do is revisit step 2, where we looked at our routines. Make room in your day for stretching and moving. Maybe you can set an alarm for every couple of hours to do some simple movements. If watching TV use the commercial breaks as an opportunity to do squats, pushups and planks. Turn up the music in the kitchen when cleaning up from dinner and dance!
  7. Take Time for YOU. While home, it may require more creativity to pamper yourself, but we can still try! Perhaps a bubble bath, or a good book and a cozy blanket. Let us know your suggestions for at home pampering!
  8. Just Breathe! take a few minutes to sit still in a chair, feet flat on the ground, arms resting at your side with hands on your thighs. Sit tall with a straight spine, chin slightly down with an elongated neck. Relax and take slow deep breaths for a minute or two at a time. Repeat as needed.

We will be back with more, but for today, please drop us a note and let us know YOUR helpful tips and tricks! We look forward to hearing from you.

Leah Love Palmer has been in the health and wellness industry for over 15 years, teaching fitness classes and training clients. She leads the Dodge YMCA's health and wellness initiatives, where she mentors a team of 50 fitness professionals, and helps New Yorkers achieve their health and wellness goals as a coach for the Y's Weight Loss Program. Leah also loves reading and spending time with her three sons (which will be four sons any day now!).

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