Simple Strategies For Feeling Great And Keeping Healthy 

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This January marks Inman’s fifth annual Agent Appreciation Month, which culminates at Inman Connect New York in a celebration of agents at the end of January. Plus, we’re rolling out the coveted Inman Power Player Awards, as well as the New York Power Brokers and MLS Innovators awards.

At the beginning of the year, did you resolve to lose weight, exercise more, or take other steps to improve your self-care? For most of us, our New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside.

The secret to having better health and energy starts with establishing patterns and routines that support you to have a healthier, happier and more fit you.  

My father’s two brothers, his sister, and all my first cousins died from heart disease, the youngest of whom was 33. As a result, my doctor gave me a very stern warning when I was a teenager — you must keep your weight down. 

As a result, I’ve tried almost every type of weight loss and exercise program that’s out there. I even put together a coaching program back in 2000 called “Real Trim.” The program was about making simple, smarter choices that can produce major improvements in both your health and well-being. Here are the top strategies that have worked for me and those I’ve coached. 

General tips

Your peer group can be your greatest obstacle 

Whether you’re working on improving your business or the quality of your life, it’s much more difficult to stay the course when those around you are not engaging in activities that support your goals. In fact, the danger is much greater than you may realize. 

Research from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego showed that obesity is contagious and can spread through social networks. The researchers concluded that there is a direct causal relationship: “A person’s chance of becoming obese increases by 57 percent if a close friend is obese, 40 percent if a sibling is obese, and 37 percent if a spouse is obese.” 

Consequently, if the people around you are making poor life decisions, seek out like-minded others who are making lifestyle choices in alignment with the choices you would like to make for yourself. Equally important, spend as little time as possible with those who don’t support your goals. 

Get enough sleep

Adequate sleep is crucial for your concentration, overall health, as well as weight management because it helps to regulate hormones that control these processes. Lack of sleep can lead to increased appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods. Establish a relaxing pre-bedtime routine that allows you to unwind for at least an hour before you go to bed.  

Manage stress 

Chronic stress can lead to overeating, weight gain, increased blood pressure and a variety of chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Activities such as meditation, exercise or hobbies can help manage stress levels effectively. They can also help you avoid visiting the kitchen for a snack. 

Get moving

Several years ago, I realized that if I wanted to enjoy the various destinations we visit on our cruises, being able to walk long distances was crucial. I’ve made a habit of walking three miles daily. The benefits have included better energy and concentration, reduced stress, and as a side benefit, I still fit into almost everything in my closet. 

There are so many ways that you can get moving. This can be a walk around the block, a trip to the mall, parking at the far end of a parking lot, or any other activity that gets you up and moving, even if it’s in only 5-10-minute increments. Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day burns calories, boosts your metabolism, improves cardiovascular health, and contributes to maintaining a healthy weight.  

You are what you eat 

According to the National Institutes of Health, 42.5 percent of adults are obese and 19.3 percent of adolescents aged 2-19 are obese. Only 18.5 percent to 24.9 percent of Americans are at a normal or healthy weight. Whether you’re trying to drop some extra holiday pounds or have a more serious weight issue, here are some simple ways to help move the needle toward a healthier, leaner you.

Change your vocabulary 

Never say ‘I need to lose weight’ again

The reason? When you lose something, your brain immediately wants to find it again. Instead, say “I need to shed some pounds.” Also, avoid saying that you’re going on a “diet” since it makes you feel like you’re giving up something. Instead, say, “I’ve decided to make healthier and more nutritious food choices in 2024.” 

Create a gameplan

Schedule when you eat

While your business or personal life may not always accommodate this, get in the habit of eating your meals at the same time daily. Regular mealtimes help to regulate your body’s metabolism, enhance the efficiency of your digestive system, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid overeating. 

Design a daily meal plan and stick to it 

A daily meal plan includes what you will eat for your regularly scheduled meals and snacks.

Eating regular meals helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of overeating later. Also, avoid skipping meals, which can lead to binging and poor food choices.

Pay attention to how your body responds to different foods

There’s nothing like living in a 55+ community and seeing your friends’ various dietary restrictions due to the ailments they have. Common culprits are alcohol, carbonated beverages, chocolate, dairy, spicy foods, tomatoes and wheat. 

One way to tell if a specific type of food is creating issues for you is to delete it from your diet for two weeks. At that point, add it back to your diet and note where feel better or worse. If you feel worse, stop eating it. 

For example, when I eat gluten, my joints are achy, and my scale is 1.5 pounds heavier the next day. My chiropractor told me this was due to an inflammatory response to gluten. What’s fascinating is that since I eliminated most gluten and dairy from my diet, my stomach is much flatter.  

Mindful eating

Increase your awareness by tracking what you eat 

Unconscious eating can be a huge source of weight gain. By forcing you to make a conscious choice about your food, writing down what you eat before you eat, it breaks the unconscious eating habit. This approach can also help you identify places where extra calories are sneaking into your diet. 

Make your mealtimes a pleasurable activity

While it may be tempting to eat in your car between appointments or to plop down in front of the TV after a long day, make a point of sitting down at the table when you eat.  Use good dishes, cloth napkins, placemats, etc. Make your mealtime a quiet, enjoyable activity, preferably with people you love and care about.  Paul Pearsall’s research shows that having meals with loved ones five times a week lowers your risk for both heart disease and cancer.

Chew your food thoroughly

Try chewing each bite you take 15-20 times. Most of us swallow our food before we have thoroughly chewed it. Thorough chewing gives your hypothalamus more time to send a full signal to your brain and results in reducing how much you eat. 

Stay hydrated

Drinking water throughout the day helps you feel full, reducing the likelihood of overeating. Water also aids digestion and helps boost metabolism.

Measure what you eat

If you don’t own a kitchen scale, purchase one and use it. When a package gives you the calorie amount (e.g., per “8 oz. serving), weigh the food on the scale to make sure you’re eating that exact number of calories. If it says “one cup” per serving, take out your measuring cups and measure out that amount. Increased awareness of what you’re eating makes it easier to make healthier, lower-calorie choices. 

Use the Volumetrics approach

This book was all the rage when it was first published in 2000 since it explains how to stay full on fewer calories. This screen grab from the original 2000 book cover sums up the approach: 

A bowl of soup, stew, or a curry packed with vegetables and pieces of meat is much more filling than a couple of bites of a burger and has about the same number of calories. Twenty grapes at three calories a piece is a much better choice than six potato chips at 10 calories a piece. 

Fool your brain 

Use smaller plates to reduce portion sizes and to help you avoid overeating. Many of us were brought up to “clean your plate.” When your brain sees that your plate is empty, it sends a psychological signal that you have finished eating. Being conscious of the amount of food you consume can significantly contribute to weight loss.

Nutritional strategies 

Balance the ‘big 3’ macronutrients

According to Prospect Medical, the “big 3” macronutrients are fats, carbohydrates, and protein. When eaten in the right ratios, they can improve your weight, health, and overall physical well-being. Eating nutrient-rich foods stems your hunger and keeps you satisfied. Make sure every meal includes the “Big 3.” 

If you’re working on shedding pounds, they recommend that you have 10 percent to 30 percent carbohydrates, 40 percent to 50 percent protein, and 30 percent to 40 percent fat. (If you’re in maintenance mode, they recommend 45 percent to 65 percent carbohydrates, 10 percent to 30 percent protein, and 20 percent to 35 percent fact.)  

Eat fresh, locally sourced foods 

When possible, eat locally sourced foods, preferably unprocessed or minimally processed foods. This includes fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, and starches such as yams that deliver a variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and nutrients. Avoid processed foods such as breads, pasta, pastries, and sodas that have high glycemic levels and can contribute to weight gain and diabetes.  

Stop eating an ‘extra meal’ a day by changing your snacking habits 

Researchers from Ohio State University analyzed data from over 20,000 individuals and found that Americans consume between 400 and 500 extra calories based on daily snacking. Many weight loss systems suggest that you have a low-calorie, high-protein snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. I have found one to two ounces of thinly sliced chicken, turkey, or very lean roast beef (40-80 calories) takes the edge off my hunger and keeps me focused throughout the day. 

Halt late-night munching 

Late-night eating often disrupts sleep patterns, which in turn can lead to weight gain. Schedule a cut-off time for eating to avoid extra late-night calorie intake.

Grocery shopping

Make your grocery list and shop when you’re not hungry 

When you’re hungry, you not only buy more food, but you’re also more likely to buy snack foods that don’t support your goal to trim down and eat healthier. Stick to your list and shop when you’re not hungry. Better yet, have Instacart or one of your local grocery shopping services do your shopping for you. 

Stick to the grocery store’s perimeter and avoid the inner aisles 

The outside aisles normally have refrigerated fresh products, dairy, meats, and produce. All the snacks and high-calorie foods are in the center aisles of the store. Avoid the inner aisles unless you have a specific item on your list that you need. 

Read the labels

When I was at my in-laws over the holidays, I went to their local market in search of fresh soup. They had one “creamy tomato soup” where the calorie account was 110, but the cream-based store brand had a whopping 630 calories per eight ounces. Look for lower-calorie options, especially those that meet the Volumetrics approach. 

Culinary tactics

Use healthy cooking methods

Grilling, baking, and steaming are healthier alternatives to frying because they reduce fat and calorie content. These methods also retain more nutrients in the food. Air frying can also be a great alternative.

Cook at home

Preparing your own meals allows for better control over ingredients and portion sizes, leading to healthier eating habits. Also, home cooking often uses fresher, less processed ingredients than restaurant or processed foods.

Each person’s path is unique

In terms of your personal journey to a healthier and happier you, experiment with the lifestyle and nutritional tips in this article to discover what works for you. Stay focused on making small, gradual changes over time and then making them a permanent part of your daily routine. It’s the combination of these small steps over time that lead to very real results. It makes no difference where you begin — it’s the cumulative effect that matters. 

Here’s to a happier and healthier you!

Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,500 published articles. Learn about her new and experienced agent sales training programs at BrokerageUP.com plus her latest initiative to help women build wealth and secure their financial independence at RealEstateWealthForWomen.com 



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