Guest blog: Small, Budget-Friendly Changes That Can Make a Big Difference in Your Health


— by Jennifer McGregor

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Photo by Pexels

Making your health a priority doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon, eat nothing but vegetables, or make other drastic changes to your lifestyle. In fact, drastic changes — regardless of how healthy — could do the opposite. For example, think about how many times you have jumped on the bandwagon of the latest fad diet. You probably lost some weight rather quickly, but it’s unlikely the weight stayed off. That’s because those diets require you to make immediate, unsustainable changes to the way you eat. In order to make healthy habits that stick, you have to make slow, gradual changes that add into your life as opposed to adding on

Are you among the many people looking to incorporate some healthy habits into your everyday activities? It’s not as hard as you might think! Here are suggestions for small changes that can add up to a big impact — but won’t add up to costs!

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, instead of worrying about something in the past — that you cannot change — or fixating on the future — that you cannot predict. When you find yourself trapped in the past or the future, find a quiet spot to close your eyes and listen to your breath. When thoughts intrude on your solitude, acknowledge them, but don’t follow them. This will come in handy for those moments when you feel guilty for eating that extra cookie or frustrated when the scale isn’t falling fast enough. If you’re having trouble grasping the art of mindfulness, there are several free smartphone apps that can aid you in the process.

Smile Big 

Good oral hygiene can impact both your physical and mental health in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Visiting the dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings can help prevent diseases like periodontitis and gingivitis. But good oral health also plays a part in preventing illness in other parts of your body, too, like diabetes and heart disease. And, believe it or not, mental health is linked to oral health, too! If you are confident in your smile, you will smile and laugh more often. If you’ve been avoiding the dentist or need to find a new one, look to your dental coverage for direction and couple with an online search to find a dentist in your neighborhood. What’s more, by staying on top of cleaning and checkups, you’ll prevent serious — and costly — dental problems from developing down the road. 

Get on a Mat

Yoga is one of the most beneficial ways to boost mental and physical health. You can go to a class at a studio or at the gym, but you can also practice at home, too. You don’t need fancy clothes or gear — if you can breathe then you are already practicing yoga! Start simple with a 15-minute energizing routine in the morning or deep, relaxing stretches in the evening. Try to work your way up to a full 60-minute practice. Yoga is also a great healthy bonding activity to do with your kids — naturally bendy in mind and body— at home, in a class or at the park. If you’re unsure about poses, there are a lot of quality, free instructional videos online.

Of course, the one piece of equipment you might need to get started is pretty straightforward: a yoga mat. Fortunately, you can affordable yoga mats at a number of retailers, and using promo codes and coupons at stores such as Dicks Sports Goods can help you save money.

Cut Out One Food Vice

Healthy eating should be a journey. Start small and simple — and only make one change at a time. For example, you can stop putting sugar in your coffee or eat a salad before every meal. It helps to log your current food habits before you make changes so you know what you’re dealing with. For instance, you may think you only have one or two sodas a day, but after you log your food for a week you could see that the reality — at least on some days — is very different. Cutting out soda entirely at first may be too challenging, but cutting out soda at dinner could be an effective way to ease yourself into a soda-free life — and it can also help you add a few more dollars into your household budget at the same time! If you want to take on bigger diet changes, think about talking to your doctor about your plans. Since he or she knows your biggest health concerns, you’ll get good insight that you might miss on your own.

Make “Me” Time

Self-care is another angle for improving health and reducing stress. Self-care might seem selfish for someone with a busy schedule — school, work or kids will always have to come first. But carving out 15 to 30 minutes every day for yourself can do wonders for helping you manage stress and prevent burnout. If you’re always putting your own needs on the back burner, you’ll eventually have nothing to give. Self-care doesn’t have to be a big event (though it can be and that’s okay). Wake up 10 minutes earlier and enjoy a cup of coffee in silence. Take a bubble bath with music and a book at the end of the day. Walk in the sunshine and listen to your favorite podcast during your lunch break. Prioritize things that make you happy, so you are better able to spread happiness to others. Here’s the best part: Setting aside a little time for yourself doesn’t require you to spend any money whatsoever if you don’t want to!

Healthy habits don’t have to be major changes in order to be life-changing. You want to make your effort stick so that these changes turn into habits, which simply turn into the way you live. Find joy in making healthy, budget-minded decisions by thinking about the short-term and long-term benefits, both for you and your family.


About the author:

Jennifer McGregor co-created Public Health Library to write about health and wellness topics. She is a pre-med student who aims to make it easier for people to find high-quality health info in one place.

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Working Out During Pregnancy: Keeping Your Routine Safe and Effective Throughout Each Trimester


Here is another great and informative article from Healthline. Please read, share and enjoy 🙂


Working Out During Pregnancy: Keeping Your Routine Safe and Effective Throughout Each Trimester

by Kristeen Cherney

Pregnancy marks a time when you need to make tweaks to your lifestyle for the sake of your baby. This includes getting rid of alcohol and junk food, as well as smoking if you have not done so already. However, exercise is definitely not something you should neglect at this time of your life. It’s not safe to play contact sports or do balancing workouts, such as bike riding, but you should not stop exercising altogether. Aside from the benefits of working out, safe exercise alone does not cause miscarriage. The key is to learn the safest and most effective workouts during each stage of your pregnancy and to modify your routine accordingly.

First Trimester: Keep Up Your Current Routine

Ideally, you should have established a workout routine before pregnancy. If this is the case, then your doctor will likely give you the go-ahead to keep up normal activities throughout the first trimester. Runners can still run, and gym-goers can still lift weights and use most machines. The key difference during this transition has to do with the method you lift weights: ideally, you should not lift them above your head so you don’t strain your neck or abdomen. As long as your doctor gives the OK, you may still perform exercises laying down, including sit-ups. Many women take advantage of this small window of time during the first trimester to strengthen their abdominal muscles while they can. You certainly can—and you should—do weight-training for your abs for toning and strength.

If you failed to exercise before pregnancy, this doesn’t mean you need to wait 9+ months to start routine. Begin by walking as much as you can, working up to at least 30 minutes per day. Walking and swimming are both ideal if you’re battling morning sickness. Add some strength-training to the mix to help build muscles you’ll need during pregnancy, delivery, and beyond.

Second Trimester: Start Making Modifications

As you progress away from the days of morning sickness, you’re likely entering your second trimester. You can still exercise to stay in shape at this point, but this is also the time to start modifying your routine. Any workout that includes jumping or lying on your back is off-limits because such movements strain your abdomen and increase the risk for miscarriage. Raul Artal, OB-GYN, explains to Baby Center that between 6 and 10 percent of women rapidly lose blood pressure when lying down, which can harm a developing fetus. Walking and swimming are still preferred because they are safe while still providing resistance and cardiovascular benefits. However, you can also try prenatal yoga and workouts on the treadmill, elliptical machine, and stationary bike. To maintain and strengthen ab muscles, make sure you sit up straight with your chest forward.

Third Trimester: Walking is Your Best Bet

The third trimester may be the most unappealing stage to work out due to an aching back, swelling legs, and fatigue. You should not give up at this point: not only does exercise benefit both you and the baby throughout the latter stages of pregnancy, but exercising can also ward off excess weight gain during this home-stretch. In fact, most of the weight gained during pregnancy occurs in the last trimester because the baby is growing at a more rapid weight and you’re building more fluids in preparation for delivery.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

For the sake of you and your baby, it’s important to maintain a safe and consistent exercise routine throughout pregnancy. Still, there are times when it’s definitely acceptable to stop working out. You should not keep exercising if you:

  • feel faint
  • become breathless
  • experience vaginal discharge
  • feel feverish
  • experience any pain
  • start feeling contractions

You should see a doctor ASAP if you experience any of these symptoms. Also, talk to him or her if you’re new to exercise or are unsure about how to modify your current routine. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you’ll likely need to take extra precautions during exercise as outlined by your physician.

Resources

Kristeen CherneyAuthor Bio: Kristeen Cherney is a freelance health and lifestyle writer who also has a certificate in nutrition. Her work has been published on numerous health-related websites since 2009. Previously, she worked as a communications and marketing professional and officially changed careers after the birth of her son. Kristeen holds a BA in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University, and is currently pursuing an MA in English with a concentration in rhetoric and cultural studies. When she’s not writing or studying, she enjoys walking, kick-boxing, yoga, and traveling.