Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Better Habits in 2016

I've been pretty quiet here this past year. I haven't done a lot of crafting, but I did manage to read over 140 books.  I'm feeling the urge to make things again though, so maybe inspiration will strike and some new patterns will appear in 2016.  However, this post hasn't about crafting. It's about new beginnings and trying to get healthy.

I'm a registered nurse and work in critical care.  I am required to get continuing education credits to maintain my license.  Yesterday, I stumbled on a couple that included strategies to prevent diabetes and heart disease, both conditions that are not only increasing in our society, but are also appearing in younger and younger patients, and are leading causes of death, disability and health care spending. Surprisingly, I learned that currently, more women than men die of heart disease in the US. Much to my dismay, once I actually saw these things in black and white, I realized that I actually fit into the higher risk categories for getting a serious, chronic disease. My list of risk factors is impressive, and there are probably some that I missed.   I'm post menopausal, over weight, apple shaped, sedentary, have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, my diet isn't the best, and I rarely get enough sleep. I generally think of myself as pretty healthy...but this was a huge wake up call for me.

In the past I've focused on weight control as my primary strategy for being healthier, but I haven't been motivated enough to maintain this, probably at least in part, because a healthy lifestyle encompasses a lot more than just this one thing. In 2016, 
I'm going to focus on creating healthy habits, one habit at a time.

I'm planning to focus on activity first. This will probably be the hardest for me to start and maintain. My goal will be at least 150 minutes of actual intentional exercise each week. My current plan is 20 minutes on either the treadmill or exercise bike at least 5 days a week, plus two 30 minute walks a week. In addition I plan to park at the far end of the parking ramp at work, plus park farther away at stores, etc. As I get into better shape, I will take the stairs more. At this point more than one or two flights of stairs make me extremely short of breath. I will also set a goal of walking around 10,000 steps per day at least five days a week. I'll have to buy a better pedometer to track this though, or maybe a Fitbit. I'll be interested to see if increasing my activity will increase the quality of my sleep.

Another thing I've noticed is that my sense of balance is declining. For instance, I can no longer stand on one foot for more than a second ir two before I'm at risk of falling over. According to a physical therapist co-worker, this is a normal consequence of aging and it can be improved and prevented by exercise. Apparently there are some specific exercises, but she recommended exercises that strengthen your core, such as walking, biking, etc. So I'm hopeful that improvement in this area will also be a benefit of increasing my level of activity.

I'm putting this out here for several reasons. I want to be accountable and putting it out here will help me with that. I'm hoping my journey provides encouragement and inspiration for others. Lastly, I'd love to have company in this endeavor, so if anyone wants to join me, I'd love to hear from you.