|Army H.e.a.l.t.h. Arsenal
A Fresh Start to the New Year
With the holiday season behind us, now is the perfect time to harness renewed motivation and get on track with our personal goals. For those of us who are looking to improve our health and fitness, there are four key areas which research indicates have a high influence on reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. The four areas of focus are: nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and mindfulness practice.
At Army H.E.A.L.T.H., we focus on these four key areas throughout the entire year. Usually we focus on one area per newsletter. This January, we are devoting the entire newsletter to all four areas. We will break down each area of focus into three doable, but impactful goals. It is important to remember that these goals are meant to serve as core references and not meant to be accomplished ALL at once. Rather, as your set your goals, reference this list as a good place to start.
Portion size refers to the amount of food on our plate, or the amount we consume. Learning how to estimate portion size is key for those who are tracking calories in an effort to lose weight. For starters, we need to familiarize ourselves with the Army H.E.A.L.T.H.
portion estimation guide
. Knowing simple hacks such as one portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, can save time and calories. This allows us to spend less time weighing our food and more time enjoying it.
The nutrition label is our best friend when it comes to choosing the best foods for weight loss. It offers all the information we need to make an informed decision. A quick hack is to use the 5% and 20% rule. Try to eat foods that contain less than 5% of the recommended daily value for total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. For fiber, vitamins, and minerals, try to eat foods with at least 20% of the recommended daily value.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas, fruit juices, coffee drinks, and sports drinks, are one of the largest sources of added sugar and excess calories in the typical American diet. Additionally, they offer little, if any, nutritional value. Just one 20-ounce soda contains 65 grams of sugar and 240 calories. It’s easy to see how even just one soda could drastically interfere with weight loss efforts.
Try to replace sugar-sweetened beverages with water or unsweetened tea. We can add lemon, lime, and other fruits to water and tea to enhance their flavor. It’s important not to simply replace soda with diet or sugar-free soda, as research tells us that diet soda consumption is also associated with unwanted weight gain and other adverse health effects.
Minutes that Matter
Research has shown that practicing gratitude for only 5 minutes each day is associated with increased time spent exercising, increased overall life satisfaction, and increased amounts of happiness in addition to decreased instances of depression. Those who practice gratitude are also more likely to have positive social relationships and physical health, especially regarding stress and sleep. Sleep quality and quantity and sleep latency (time to fall asleep) are all positively affected when we practice gratitude.
Don’t Dare Compare
Comparing ourselves to others will almost always result in negative feelings. As Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparing yourself to others is the thief of joy”. Everyone comes from a different background, has different life experiences, looks different, and is presently enduring a different set of circumstances. Comparing ourselves to others is not a measure of success, but is often a measure of your own insecurities, and the practice of continual self-comparison is a way to continue to cultivate those insecurities.
Cultivate the Habit of Being Grateful
Start a gratitude journal or get in the habit of beginning or ending each day acknowledging (bringing into your mind) several things we are grateful for. Gratitude puts situations into perspective. It helps us realize what we have and, therefore, lessens our need for wanting more all the time- more of anything, e.g. physical needs, emotional needs, material desires. Gratitude strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and, in general, makes people happier.