15 Ways to Improve Your Health Without Losing A Pound

How Can You Be The Healthiest You Can Be?  This Is How. 

Saturday on CNN, Randi Kaye interviewed Augusten Burroughs, author of  “Running with Scissors” and “This Is How”.  “This Is How”, Burroughs new self-help book, was the focus of the interview.  Burroughs wrote “This Is How” as a way to tell other people how he’s managed to survive the things that have happened to him in his life.  He says that people always ask him, “How did you survive this?” or “How did you survive that?”  Hence, “This Is How”.

The book covers a wide range of topics, one of which is obesity that he mentions in the interview. Augusten tells Randi about the struggle that people have with trying to be thin.  In the book he talks about our obsession with losing weight and refers to those people always seeking weight loss as ‘serial dieters’. (I like that term.)  He says a more “disappointment-resistant plan would be to get thin happy” which means to be happy at whatever weight you are right now.   You can read an excerpt from that part of the book here.

Be the healthiest you that you can be.

Be The Healthiest You That You Can Be

What if we decided that rather than trying to get to a desired weight we made up our mind to be the healthiest we could possibly be in the body that we have now.  Would thinness follow?  Maybe.  But whether it did or didn’t we could improve both our physical and emotional health because we would be focused on self-care instead of a number on the scale. We would also free ourselves of the pressure of the weekly – or daily – weigh-in.

Here are 15 things that you can do to improve your health without rearranging your entire life or getting feedback from the scale to see how you’re doing.

1.  Increase your physical activity.  This doesn’t mean you have join a gym.  Just make it a point to move more throughout the day.  A good place to start is with the sit for 60 move for 3 program. After every hour of sitting, move for three minutes.

2.  Prepare 80% of your meals at home.  It’s not impossible to eat a healthy diet when you dine out, but it’s definitely more of a challenge.  If you view going out to a nice restaurant as a treat you’ll enjoy it more.  In the meantime, check out some of the healthy recipe web sites, make a grocery list and start having fun in your own kitchen!

3.  Get in the habit of reading food labels.  You’d be surprised at how much sodium, sugar and fat is lurking in ‘healthy’ foods.  The Traffic Light Food app downloaded to your phone can be a big help in deciphering labels.  The app is also available for Smartphone.

4.  Wear a pedometer for two or three days and see how many steps you walk on average each day.  Try to increase your daily average by a thousand.  There’s nothing like a pedometer that registers ‘0’ to motivate movement.

5.  More and more research shows that strength training is the fountain of youth.  As we age our muscle mass is in a natural state of decline.  We begin to lose muscle mass rather rapidly after the age of 35.  You don’t need to join a gym to do a couple sessions of strength training weekly.  There are many excellent strength training workout DVDs that you can do at home. Review them before you buy at Collage Video.  At Collage.com, put ‘strength training’ in the search bar and find one that suits your age, ability and fitness level.

6.  Try a new vegetable every week.  If you’re stuck on broccoli and green beans it’s time to give your palate a treat.  Kale, bok choy, turnip and mustard greens are all inexpensive to buy and easy to prepare and will add vitamins and minerals to your diet that you might be missing. Cooking Lite has tons of recipes and ideas for preparing different veggies.

7.   Create a picture board that reflects the vision that you have for your life.  Not only will creating the board allow you to use the creative side of your brain which releases stress, if you put the board in a place where you’ll see it throughout the day it will serve as a constant reminder of what you want to achieve.

This is a picture of my co-worker (#126) after she ran her first 5k.

8.  Turn your dream of running a 5K into a reality.  The results of a study recently completed as part of the Copenhagen City Heart research project shows that jogging an hour a week can increase your life expectancy by around six years. The Cool Running Couch to 5K program makes going from jogging to walking something thousands of people have achieved and you can too.  There’s nothing like crossing the finish line of your first race to make you feel like a rock star!

9.  Start a Happiness Project.  I wrote about the Happiness Project in December when grouchy people were trying to put the kibosh on my holiday cheer.  We can’t ignore the impact our emotional well being directly has on our physical health.  If we’re frustrated, angry and impatient, it’s harder to maintain a state of positive wellbeing.  Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project web site is one to bookmark for year ‘round inspiration.

10.  While we’re on the subject of emotional wellbeing, here’s another web site that I visit regularly.  Pick The Brain – Grow Yourself.  This site has been around site 2006 and is one of the fastest growing self-improvement sites on the web.  One of my favorite articles is “Are You Postponing Your Life Until Tomorrow?”.  Be sure and check out the archives for posts that appeal to you at Pick The Brain.

11.  This is your life and you are the author. Act like it.  This is another take-away from the interview I watched with Augusten Burroughs.  His message is ‘stop playing the role of the victim’. Only you can make the changes that need to be made.  It’s time to take charge of your life.

12.  Yoga anyone? It’s no wonder that yoga has been around since 1500 A.D. This spiritual form of exercise provides some benefits that other program can’t.  Whether you join a yoga studio or buy a yoga DVD to do at home, you’ll gain strength, flexibility and focus if done at least once a week.  If you’ve never done yoga check out Rodney Yee’s DVD series.  Yee is a true yogo guru and his workouts can be purchased at Amazon.

13.  Try a fitness class at your local Y or health club.  Most Y’s will let you try classes at least one time for free.  Working out alone is fine and a preference for some people. Most of us stick with an exercise program longer and enjoy it more if we have an instructor providing verbal cues and a ‘good job!’ every now and then.  Plus, you’ll make new friends that have the same interest as you and develop a support system that will get you through when your motivation wanes.

 14.  Get at least seven hours of sleep a night.  One study after another has shown that a chronic lack of sleep leads to weight gain, and depression and can have detrimental effects on your immune systems.  Set a bedtime for yourself each night just like you do for your children and stick to it.  The National Sleep Foundation web site has an article on sleep hygiene that’s worth reading if you have trouble falling and staying asleep.  Check it out here.

15.  Live in the moment.  Checking Facebook, tweeting, texting, and constant e-mail reminders all take us away from the here and now. Losses that we’ve suffered in the past or anxiety about the future may also keep us from focusing on the present. Did you know that how often your mind wanders if a predictor of how happy you are? It’s important to focus on each moment as it happens without constantly reflecting back or looking forward. For additional tips on practicing mindfulness, here’s a link to a good article at Peace&Projects.com.

You can see the list isn’t about going to the gym five times a week, eating six servings of fruits and veggies a day and drinking the recommended amount of water.  Those things will help keep you physically healthy, but a big part of being well takes place in that large organ that rests inside your head:  your brain.  If you take control of what’s going on there the rest will follow.

Maybe it’s time to forget about the scale and focus on being the healthiest person you can be physically, emotionally and spiritually.



  1. Marylyn says:

    WOW….Great article Karen, there is so much truth in this article, I’m glad I start my day by reading your blog!!!