10 Steps to a Better Weight and a Healthier Heart

Poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle can have a negative effect on your weight, heart and overall health. In fact, January is Weight Management Season, February is National Heart Month and 2016 is the International Year of the Pulses (dried beans, lentils and peas). So now is the perfect time to implement these 10 positive steps that can help you maintain good health and overall wellness.

1. Customize your weight gain and weight loss plan.

Weight gain can be a complex issue. Some people can gain weight due to medications, excess sodium intake, and other issues. Rather than copying others, learn more about yourself and your personal needs. And as always, be sure to talk with your physician and nutritionist before starting a weight loss program.

2. Every meal counts.

The body (particularly your muscles) needs calories and nutrients to function, so eating is necessary. But skipping entire meals is a bad idea. Not eating regularly during the day causes a disruption in blood sugar and insulin levels which can promote fat storage and lower the body’s metabolism. The longer your body goes without eating, the lower your blood sugar drops. This can lead to fatigue and cravings, making it easy to overeat and gain weight.

3. Drink plenty of water.

Staying hydrated helps your body absorb nutrients.

Staying hydrated is essential for a healthy metabolism and is necessary for your body to continue absorbing the right amount of nutrients. It is also good for your muscles, brain, skin, heart and blood circulation.

4. Always use portion control.

Many people are consuming more calories, salt and saturated fat than their body needs, negatively impacting their health. Research shows that over the years, at restaurants and well as in the home, portion sizes have increased.

5. Include pulses in your diet.

Pulses are dried beans, lentils and peas, including garbanzos. Eating these foods is associated with greater nutritional intake, reduced systolic blood pressure, lower body weight and a smaller waist in adults.

6. Eat enough fiber from fruit, vegetables and grains.

Foods that are excellent sources of fiber, like guava, beans, lentils, peas, oatmeal, etc., help the body feel full longer, provide important vitamins and nutrients, help promote good digestive health and can also contribute to healthy weight management.

7. Get enough sleep.

Getting enough sleep can keep your weight down.

Having a regular sleep schedule can help you keep the weight off. The right amount of sleep ensures that your metabolism works properly and is vital for the muscles, skin, brain and overall healthy development. It is important to get between 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

8. Stay active.

According to research, individuals who are the most successful in maintaining a healthy weight are those who consume the appropriate amount of calories per day while engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity regularly, 4-6 times a week.

9. Take a walk – for budget-friendly fitness.

If the gym is not for you and if participating in sports is not your thing – no problem. Taking brisk walks has shown to be an effective part of a personal fitness program. Furthermore, it is the most cost-effective way to stay fit while having a minimal impact on joints.

10. Keep track of your progress – write it down.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the people who lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off were also those who kept an accurate record of their daily food intake.

For general information about nutrition, consult the following government site: http://www.nutrition.gov/.