All of us probably know some areas where we could boost our health and happiness — perhaps by exercising more, eating healthier, learning stress management techniques, or nipping a bad habit in the bud — but making a change can be daunting. It doesn’t have to be, though. This report will show you how to incorporate simple changes into your life that can reap big rewards.
It covers seven different topics: exercising regularly, eating healthier, dieting effectively, reducing stress, nipping unhealthy habits in the bud, controlling spending, and embracing positive psychology. For each of these topics, we present six simple choices that can help you reach your goals. Some are easier, others harder —examples include packing a lunch, adding core exercises to your routine, or simplifying your days. You can choose whichever changes appeal the most to you. The report also includes tools to help you track your goals, keep you motivated, and sidestep pitfalls.
Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Edward M. Phillips, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, and Director and Founder, Institute of Lifestyle Medicine. 45 pages. (2010)
Change your life. Three simple words, no easy task. Yet a richer, healthier life is well within bounds. Small changes can add up to surprisingly big course corrections. But which changes should you make? And how can you stick with them?
As the director of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School, I know people can achieve remarkable changes in their lives one small step at a time. The day-to-day choices you make influence whether you maintain vitality as you age or develop life-shortening illnesses and disabling conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. You may understand exactly what you need to do to enjoy a healthier, happier life: carve out time to exercise, perhaps, or find a way to ratchet down stress. There’s just one hitch. You haven’t done it yet.
Often, the biggest hurdle is inertia. It’s true that it isn’t easy to change ingrained habits like driving to nearby locations instead of walking, let’s say, or reaching for a donut instead of an apple. However, gradually working toward change improves your odds of success. And once a new, healthy habit takes root, I guarantee it will be hard to break, too.
This Special Health Report highlights small changes you can make across seven spectra to enhance your health and life: stick to exercise, eat healthier, lose weight more effectively, ease stress, control finances, harness the power of positive psychology, and nip unhealthy habits in the bud. The actions you’ll undertake range from easy to challenging. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll find an encouraging foothold. And if you’re already engaging in some healthy behaviors, I can help you up the ante to reap greater benefits.
Guided by this report, month by month you make choices that appeal to you. In every section, “The goal” sets a target. For example, a goal may describe current exercise guidelines, distill the tenets of healthy eating, or point out possibilities for happier living through positive psychology. “Six choices” explains changes that help you move toward the goal.
Ambitious attempts to improve often fail because people try to make too many changes at once or can’t implement the changes they’ve selected. Here, you set your priorities, choosing only the changes that appeal most to you. You can master just one change at a time before moving on to the next. Each month, you can select a different goal from the seven goals or decide to explore further changes within the goal you’ve been working on. The tools provided will help you break down worthwhile changes you want to make into small, manageable steps that set you up for success.
Edward M. Phillips
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I won't be buying this, BUT the Harvard Med School link that got me here proposed 5 actions of which three are definitely wrong and probably part of this publication.
1) Ditch whole milk -- Not only does this reduce saturated fat in your diet, it shaves off calories.
Wrong! The whole notion of "calories counting" can be shown at so many levels to be irrelevant to weight gain, impossible to do with enough accuracy to be meaningful (assuming it worked), and unworkable (the track record for caloric restriction is essentially zero in the last 40 years). Fat accumulates on people due to the effect, primarily, of insulin. Insulin levels go up from eating glucose releasing foods (i.e., carbohydrates). Seriously cut out carbs and your adipose tissue will release free fatty acids back into the blood stream. You won't want as much food because your body is getting plenty of previously unavailable fuel. Just don't think that you can cut from 65% to 35% carbs and see an effect.
There is no real evidence that saturated fat, whether from milk or any other source, is in any way detrimental to humans. Real sources of fat always come as a mixture of saturated and unsaturated, so probably no one is ever going to be able to provide evidence to show such a claim. Much of animal fat is unsaturated, yet animal fat gets the bad rating. Your own body makes animal fat; it is illogical that evolution would permit this if this stuff was so bad.
3) Taste food before you salt it. --Break the autopilot habit of reaching for the salt shaker.
Wrong! This implies that salt is bad. After all the years of effort, there is no study that shows a meaningful (more than 10 mm of Hg) drop in BP even with massive salt reduction. Many studies show no drop at all, and at least one study shows increased risk of heart issues with reduced salt intake. The anti-salt effort is now reduced to meta-studies which make enormous, unwarranted extrapolations about the number of people who would be saved if only...
5) Eat five (or more) vegetables and fruits a day
Eat a little of low sugar vegetables, perhaps, but many vegetables (corn, and potatoes to name a few) and all fruits will drive serum insulin levels (see 1 above), and the large amount of fructose in modern fruits, as opposed to the small quantity of ancestral fruits, goes straight to the liver and apparently drives the long-term set point for insulin production. We need to eat a lot, lot less vegetables and fruit.
I reviewed this publication for possible use as a wellness-focused resource for working with groups in urban areas endeavoring to improve health behaviors. I found it useful in that regard -- enjoyed the easily digested concepts, units ("six steps")and exercises useful. My only criticism is that the literacy level is pretty high for the common reader.