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Give Yourself the Gift of Wellness

If you are into giving gifts possibly consider giving yourself the gift of wellness by seeing a nutritionist before the year is over or to begin 2018 in a good direction.
PUBLISHED December 25, 2017
Tamera Anderson-Hanna is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Addiction Professional, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and became a Registered Yoga Teacher while coping with breast cancer in 2015. She owns Wellness, Therapy, & Yoga in Florida where she provides personal wellness services and coaching and she is a public speaker on wellness-related topics. You can connect with her at www.wellnesstherapyyoga.com.
If you are into giving gifts this holiday season, possibly consider giving yourself the gift of wellness by seeing a registered dietitian before the year is over or begin 2018 in a good direction. I recently decided to follow up with a dietitian after my annual physical. Being cancer free is a gift, but monitoring your health and maintaining healthy habits are not to be taken for granted. If there is more you can do to manage a healthy weight, glucose levels, cholesterol levels or other changes to benefit your health, you should.

While this is not the first time I have gone in to review my diet, I can say it had been a couple of years, and new education leads to more healthy choices I could still make in my life. If you’re thinking about doing this, maybe you can benefit from some of the tips I have given myself to get started on new changes.

Prepare for the visit.

In preparation of my appointment, I made sure to have a summary of what my current diet consists of and some of the brands I keep on hand. I also had a copy of my most recent blood results. I felt it was important to look at healthy cholesterol levels as a baseline, as one of my goals is improving in this area. The dietitian will also want to look at the results of your glucose levels and other key indicators which help distinguish a diet to follow, as well as changes in eating. My goal is to now go back in three months to see the changes in my blood tests I was hoping to incorporate. I also had a list of the vitamins I take and the amounts. You might ask why this is all important, but some health professionals suggest glucose levels, cholesterol levels and supplemental vitamin D can all help to keep cancer and other illnesses at bay.

Find a lifestyle.

I personally don’t participate in fad diets, but rather a lifestyle based on recommended guidelines I can maintain for a lifetime. I have worked with the dietitian to find ways to keep the things I enjoy, such as dark chocolate. There is actually a lot of research behind dark chocolate. So, I combine some dark chocolate-covered almonds with a homemade nut mix I make from an unsweetened Greek yogurt. And, if I get a craving for a sweet treat, it is OK to have a small handful of dark chocolate-covered almonds now and then. I also recently started making my own homemade granola, to avoid dried fruits, which are sometimes found in commercial versions. I combine all the healthy nuts found in common granola blends, such as dry roasted and unsalted pumpkin seeds, raw almonds and cashews, but I add some organic flax seed powder and a small amount of dark chocolate-covered almonds as a random treat. If adding my homemade mix to my yogurt, I add a little fresh fruit rather than dried fruits ,as I was told it is healthier. It does take more time to make things rather than buy them, but I get the opportunity to mix in the items I enjoy while adding what I need for nutritional benefits. If you’re considering going in to see a dietitian, don’t be afraid to discuss the foods you enjoy so you can enjoy the way you eat.

Other tips I am working on include more baking and monitoring my grilling. Over the years, I have also continued to switch out to more organic poultry and other items. Fortunately, wholesale clubs and local grocery stores have been obtaining more organic products, and the popularity of cage-free eggs and is more available in common grocery stores. While I enjoy milk, I have also found ways to add unsweetened almond milk to my coffee and use it when making an awesome, healthy green kale smoothie. Making smoothies has helped me integrate more kale and other fruits and vegetables into my diet. Other simple changes include changing my peanut butter to more natural or organic version and learning to watch the types of oils I incorporate into my diet. These changes are meant to support my overall wellness, but what you may need to do will likely vary from my needs. That’s why you would need to see a dietician for your own individualized support and recommendations.

I feel more invested in the lifestyle changes if I am aware of the options and learn how to switch out the suggested selections. I also understand and agree to the goals which helps with overall motivation, rather than having my choices made for me without any input.

Diet doesn’t replace exercise.

You might be a healthy weight and be eating well, but hopefully we all understand that exercise is just as important as a healthy diet. If you are familiar with any of my other articles, you might recall I am trained as a yoga teacher and I teach Yoga 4 Cancer among other styles. But, I don’t just rely solely upon yoga for exercise. It is important to mix things up and, if nothing else, go out for a good one to two mile walk occasionally. It will help maintain cardiovascular health. Don’t get me wrong, in 2018 I am going to incorporate a few new morning sun salutations, but it will not be the only thing I do.

Mixing it up helps to avoid getting bored with a routine. When making your choice for exercise, do what feels fun so you can make your diet and exercise habits something you will keep investing in. Want other reasons to support healthy lifestyle changes? As parents, we are not only taking care of our health, but research suggests those of us who engage in healthy diet and exercise set the example for our own children and other family members to follow. Getting bored? Find an accountability partner, buy a new recipe book or a new exercise app you can enjoy in 2018. Whatever you do, it is a good time to make some long-term, positive changes in both diet and exercise.
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