A: Making changes in our lifestyle can be challenging, and a reminder on why it is important is often useful. I find that making one or two changes at a time can have more long-lasting effects than trying to change all of your behaviors at once. I have some ideas that can make each of these changes less daunting.

Get Hooked On Exercise
We all know the benefits of exercise: prevents weight gain, osteoporosis (bone thinning) and heart disease, can lower blood pressure and help with stress, anxiety and depression,  but we forget that it can actually feel good! Exercise will help you sleep better and actually give you energy throughout the day. A lot of people tell me that they “just don’t have time,” but exercise that makes you sweat for  20 minutes per day will give you these benefits. By incorporating movement into your day you can start to develop the “exercise habit.” Some examples are: walk to get your mail instead of drive; park in the far corner of the lot at the supermarket or at work; take a walk during your lunch breaks. Wearing a pedometer can also be helpful. You need 10,000 steps a day to have health benefits (it’s more attainable than it sounds!). There are a lot of wonderful resources in town to help you get started. Gallagher Fitness Resources (activesalem.com) has excellent walking and running progams. The Chemeketans (chemeketans.org) offer both leisure walks around town and vigorous hikes all over Oregon. Salem Bike Club (salembicycleclub.org) has an array of organized bicycle rides for all fitness levels.

Eat a Colorful, Whole Foods Diet
Processed foods — foods high in sugar and low in fiber — are at the crux of many of our  current illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. We may know this, yet it is difficult to get a handle on what is good to eat. It isn’t that difficult — make it colorful, eat foods that look like their original source (such as apples instead of apple juice), and stay away from anything with trans-fats/partially-hydrogenated oils or high-fructose corn syrup (that last one is definitely easier said than done!). Here are some hints: learn to read labels; shop in the perimeter aisles of grocery stores (where the fresh food is located); buy organic or locally grown fruits, vegetables and meats when available. A wonderful source of locally grown, grass-fed meats is Abundant Life Farms (localharvest.org/farms/M3686). You’ll also find fresh local foods at farmers’ markets and LifeSource Foods.

Use Portion Control to Achieve Weight Control
Reducing portion size can be a difficult change to implement. A few ideas I have are to serve meals in the kitchen, with just salad/vegetables on the dinner table for second servings; use a smaller salad plate instead of a dinner plate, with half of it filled with vegetables; do not skip meals so that your appetite is controlled; eat breakfast every day and make it at least 10 gm of protein and fiber.

Healthy living can take some work and forethought, but it gets easier with practice. Make one change (give up soda, eat a fruit a day, buy a pedometer) and be proud of it. It is not about the numbers (weight, blood pressure, cholesterol) but about how you feel overall. You have one body in this life, treat it well!