Making a Change to Improve Your Health

By Kristine Jennings, RN, MSN, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC

Want to get healthier? Know you need to make a change? Perhaps not even to lose weight, but just to feel better? Let’s talk about it.

Health is much more than pounds on a scale. Being healthy encompasses all areas of your life—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Within each of those categories, there are multiple levels. For example, the emotional component includes relationships with yourself, family, husband, children, parents, grandparents, etc. If any of these areas are off balance, then your entire focus and physical being may become off balance leading to decreased health.

Becoming healthier can be a lifelong goal. Understanding what you desire is a good start. Do you desire a healthier physical appearance, better relationships or healthy nutrition goals? Start by committing to one choice or area of improvement at one time. Working toward a limited goal will make it less of a burden so you don't feel overwhelmed with too many goals.

Let's take a closer look at our physical health for example, since this is usually the reason for all of us when we say we need to get healthy.

Envisioning how you want to change is paramount. There is no one, and nothing that can stop you from making positive choices in your life except yourself. What one thing is most important in your physical life that you want to change? For example, is it the way your body appears? Is it working on better nutrition, or improving your lab values and coming off medication? Many of these can be improved by nutrition changes and moving more. It doesn't mean that you have to stop eating everything “good food” and deprive yourself of all carbohydrates or sweets and start running marathons. It does, however, mean that making lifelong healthier habits requires hard work and dedication to a goal that you really want to make.

In six months, you will not be the exact same weight you are today. You will weigh at least one pound more or one pound less. You have the power to choose which way that pendulum will swing! Consider evaluating these areas in order to start making changes, improve your health and maybe even lose weight:

Sleep. Sleep plays a huge part in our health. If you aren't getting adequate sleep, you may see an increase in insulin resistance which will also play a part in weight gain. Are you getting the recommended seven to eight hours each night? Is it restful sleep, or are you tossing and turning? Are you narrowly getting four or five hours of sleep and depending on a pot or two of coffee to get you moving in the morning? Trying to “wind” down prior to sleep has shown to be beneficial for more restful sleep. For example, disconnect from all electronic devices such as TV, video games, phones and tablets at least an hour before bed. This has been shown to promote getting to sleep faster while, helping to provide a more restful sleep. Taking a warm bath or shower or reading a book can also help slow thoughts that might generally make falling asleep more difficult.

Nutrition. Evaluate your eating habits. Are you skipping meals? Eating late at night? Frequently eating fast food? Getting five servings of fruits and or vegetables daily? Choosing items that are nutritionally dense is important. For instance, eating 1/2 cup of a prepared “boxed” rice dinner or 1/2 cup of grilled chicken and vegetables are remarkably nutritionally different. The rice choice is high in carbohydrates with little to no protein, while the chicken option will provide protein (necessary “building block” for all living cells) and vegetables (which are essential to supply our vitamin and minerals needs) which leads to a more balanced diet.

Variety in your diet is also very important. Next time you are out to eat, look at the colors on the plate. Are you eating almost all brown, white and tan items, or do you have a variety of colors on your plate? Things that are white, brown and tan tend to be more heavily weighted in carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, tortillas, crackers, cookies, sweets), which if eaten in excess, play an important role in becoming overweight and increased risk of developing diabetes and other health problems. Eating a variety of colors helps to ensure proper nutrition of vitamin and minerals while providing your body with necessary minerals and vitamins.

Take some time to evaluate these two habits and see how your rank. Remember, becoming healthier isn't about deprivation, it's about moderation, consistency and a willingness to desire a change. One day at a time. You can do this!

About the Author

Kristine Jennings has been a nurse practitioner for 12 years with the past 5 years being specialized in the area of Bariatrics. Kristine has known and worked with Dr. Nicholson through different facilities during the past 7 years and joined the Nicholson Clinic in October of 2015. She is a native Californian but was transplanted to Texas in 2010. She enjoys helping patients become successful and helping to provide them with the tools they need to make positive changes.