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Easy Daily

Routines To

Build A

Healthier

You

Lynn Smith
9/04/2008
Professional Health Coach
www.HealthCoachTeam.com

Now that school is back in session, everyone is settling back into routines. Seems fitting that this would be a good time to examine your routine and see what habits are serving you and which ones could use some improvement. Let's start by looking at your morning routine.

Do you get up early enough to eat breakfast, or do you skip it because you're too rushed? Maybe you're trying to lose weight, and, in an effort to do so, you don't eat breakfast. Gretchen Hill, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University, says, "People often think they can save calories by skipping breakfast, but if they kept a food journal, they'd find that they more than make up for those saved calories later in the day." There's a biological reason for this. The brain releases greater amounts of a nerve chemical called neuropeptide Y (NPY) when you skip breakfast, which results in unconscious signals for you to keep eating. Once you start to eat mid-day, you don't stop and you end up consuming more food and calories between noon and bedtime than do people who eat breakfast. Professor Hill also cautions, "Women don't catch up on their vitamins, minerals, and fiber - especially vitamin E, zinc, calcium, and iron - missed at breakfast, even if they consume enough calories later in the day." What is the long-term effect of this marginal nutrient intake? Chronic fatigue, poor circulation, memory loss, depression, and other physical and mental problems. It is enough of a load to juggle family and career, don't give yourself a handicap by regularly skipping breakfast.

Once at work, do you spend your day glued to the computer or phone? How often do you get up from your desk and take a break? Consider using your coffee break or part of your lunch break as a disconnect time for yourself. Get outside and take a walk, even if for just ten minutes. This little habit has a three-fold benefit.

First, it gives you some exercise. A study from Louisiana State University shows that even ten minutes of exercise per day can improve your cardiovascular fitness. In working with a group of overweight or obese subjects, researchers found that as little as 72 minutes of exercise a week, which is just over ten minutes a day, improved cardiovascular fitness by 4% compared to subjects who did nothing at all.

That simple ten minute walk is not only a boost to your cardiovascular health; it can also give you an energy boost. That benefit comes from sunlight. Sunlight contains blue light, which is brain-activating. Mariana Figueiro, assistant professor at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, says, "Our circadian rhythms are more sensitive to blue light than any other kind." That walk in the sun may give you just the boost of energy you need to finish that project.

To give yourself a third benefit from one simple walk, do it without your cell phone. Ok, if you must take it, turn it off. (Not vibrate, off!) I know technology is great and makes communication easier and faster, but it takes its toll. Every time your phone rings or you receive an e-mail, or text, or IM, your adrenal glands give you a jolt, resulting in entering the "fight-or-flight mode". Repeatedly spending your days like that can exhaust you. Going unplugged, even for a short while has a rejuvenating effect.

What's your daily lunch routine? Do you go out with co-workers? Or if you're pressed for time, do you hit the drive-thru for something fast? There has been some alarming research done on the effects of a fast food meal. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that on days when people eat fast food, they consume an average of 187 excess calories; calories that can equate to a six-pound weight gain during one year. Eating fast food more than twice a week can increase a woman's risk of being overweight by 86%. One fast food meal alone adds a third of a woman's daily requirements for calories, fat, and saturated fat.

Think about how you feel after eating that Big Mac and fries. Does it energize you and increase your productivity? Or does it leave you lethargic, wishing you could take a nap? A better routine would be to bring your lunch. A lunch that includes some fruits and vegetables will not only keep you from loading up on greasy food, but will energize your body, making it easier to accomplish more in your day. Give it a try and see how much more you can get done when you aren't fighting off the urge to take a nap.

These new routines aren't hard to slip into your day, but a little forethought will ensure success. The day before, plan what you'll have for breakfast in the morning and figure out the best time to pack your lunch. Before long, you'll have new routines to help you build a healthier you.

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