COLUMBUS - By February, many people may be tempted to give up on resolutions to be healthier, so the Ohio Department of Aging is helping people of all ages to keep their promises by posting "Healthy U Tip of the Day" on Facebook throughout the month. Tips will cover managing chronic conditions, finding resources, understanding symptoms, managing stress, exercise, eating well, communicating with health professionals, managing medications and more. Facebook users can visit www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentOfAging, and click the "Like" button to have the tips delivered right to their news feeds.
"The simple act of deciding to live a healthier life increases your chances of success by a factor of 10, but developing new habits can take time and dedication," said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the department. "By now, people who made wellness resolutions for the new year may be wondering if they can keep them. Using the proven advice from our Healthy U program, we hope to provide a little assistance."
Healthy U is a chronic disease self-management program developed by researchers at Stanford University and offered in Ohio through a partnership between the Ohio Department of Aging, the Ohio Department of Health and local organizations. A series of six weekly, community-based workshops helps adults of any age gain confidence in their ability to manage symptoms and understand how their health problems affect their lives. The Healthy U Tip of the Day will come straight from the Healthy U curriculum. Call your area agency on aging at 1-866-243-5678 to inquire about upcoming workshops where you live.
In addition to these tips, subscribers to the department's page on Facebook also will receive weekly spotlights on businesses that honor the Golden Buckeye Card and timely updates about current issues affecting older Ohioans, department programs and initiatives, local activities and resources, and more.
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging provides leadership for the delivery of services and supports that improve and promote quality of life and personal choice for older Ohioans, adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers. Working with 12 area agencies on aging and other community partners, the department offers home- and community-based Medicaid waiver programs such as PASSPORT, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.
Healthy U Tips of the Day:
"Like" us on Facebook for daily delivery. Content subject to change without notice.
- Any effort to improve your health has to start with goals and a plan for achieving them. For instance, you can set a goal to do something that you want to do, but don't or can't do now because of some physical reason. Think about why you can't or don't do it and consider an exercise plan to address those reasons.
- Eat regularly. Space your meals and snacks out throughout the day and try to eat at about the same times. Also, try to eat the same amount at each meal. Skipping meals or eating a large meal with tiny meals can throw your system and energy level off and lead to unplanned and unhealthy snacking.
- If you are going from little activity to moderate or heavy activity, you can expect to experience some fatigue. Fatigue can be caused by disease, inactivity, poor nutrition, inadequate rest, emotions (such as stress, anxiety, fear and depression) and even some medications. The key to fighting fatigue is to identify what is causing it and address the root causes.
- Good communication with your health providers starts when you take P.A.R.T.: PREPARE, ASK, REPEAT and TAKE action. Know your important concerns before your appointment, ask questions, repeat instructions back to the physician and take an active role in your health.
- Medications typically serve one of four general functions: relieve symptoms, prevent further health problems, improve disease (or slow its progress) or replace substances the body is no longer producing adequately. In all cases, the purpose of the medication is to lessen the consequences of disease or to slow its course.
- When it comes to exercise, respect your body. If you feel very ill, don't exercise. If you can't comfortably complete your warm-up period of flexibility and strengthening exercises, don't move on to more vigorous activity.
- There is no such thing as an "ideal" weight for individuals. Instead of trying to fit somewhere on an impersonal chart based on population statistics, strive instead to achieve a "healthy" weight. A healthy weight is one whereby you reduce your risk of developing health problems or further complicating existing ones, and feel better both mentally and physically.
- A good way to start to manage your weight is to follow the "200 Plan." Basically, each day eat 100 fewer calories than you normally would, while at the same time exercise to use up 100 more calories than you did before.
- Are you over-stressed? Warning signs of stress include: biting nails, pulling hair, tapping your foot, grinding your teeth, tension in your head, neck and shoulders, feeling irritable or helpless, frequent accidents and forgetting things you usually don't forget. If you catch yourself feeling stressed, think about what is making you feel tense. Take a few deep breaths to relax.
- If you are experiencing pain due to chronic disease, painkillers may make things worse. Instead, try a cognitive strategy: Find an activity that distracts from the pain, develop positive and healthy thinking or self-talk, pray or meditate. Remember that pain can have many causes and not all management techniques will work for everyone. Try several to find what works for you.
- Eating a variety of foods helps your body get all the essential nutrients it needs to function. Taking vitamins and food supplements can never replace eating a balanced diet. These "extras" contain only the nutrients printed on the label. To get all essential nutrients (both known and unknown), we need to eat a variety of foods.
- Do you avoid exercise because you are afraid of falling? Did you know that exercise actually reduces your risk of a fall by strengthening your legs and ankles and making you more flexible? Talk to your health professional about exercises you can do to improve your balance. Also, talk about any medical conditions or medications you take that may affect your balance.
- Don't skip breakfast! Eating something after you arise in the morning every day provides your body with the fuel it needs to function well throughout the day, and keeps you feeling energetic. Eating breakfast is one of the secrets of weight loss.
- To balance your diet, just look at your plate. At each meal, visually divide the plate into two halves. Fill one half with non-starchy vegetables (such as leafy greens, tomatoes or broccoli). Split the other half evenly between protein-rich foods (such as lean meat, fish or cheese) and whole-grain, starchy foods (such as bread, rice or potatoes).
- For most medications, your doctor depends on you to report what effect, if any, the drug has on your symptoms and what side effects you experience. Your doctor may continue, increase, discontinue or otherwise change your prescription based on your feedback. In a good doctor-patient relationship, there is a continuing flow of information.
- To reduce fat in your eating plan, eat more skinless poultry and fish, and less red meat. Choose leaner cuts of meat and trim off visible fat before cooking. Limit egg yolks to four per week, including eggs in prepared food. Eat small portions of organ meats (liver, kidneys) only occasionally. Broil, barbecue or grill meats instead of frying them.
- Do you eat too fast? Skipping meals can lead to eating too fast, but so can failing to relax properly before meals. Slowing down you eating can help you decrease the amount of food you eat. Snack on healthy foods between meals. Eat more frequent, smaller meals. Chew your food well and drink plenty of water.
- Pharmacists are an underutilized resource. They have gone to school for many years to learn about medications, how they act in your body and how they interact with each other. In other words, your pharmacist is an expert on medications and is an important and helpful consultant.
- If you find that your weight loss has slowed, don't give up. With time, your body will adapt to your new calorie intake and activity level. Instead of cutting calories even more, try adding to your physical activity exercise goals. Modify your goals to focus more on maintaining the weight loss you've achieved with more moderate loss going forward.
- To get more fiber in your eating plan, build your meals around vegetables, whole grain products and fruits, instead of meats. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, raw or slightly cooked. Remember that eating the whole fruit is better for you than drinking fruit juice. Snack on fruit or nonfat yogurt, not sweets.
- More ways to increase your fiber intake: Eat more foods made with oats, barley and legumes at least a few times each week and as meat substitutes. Eat higher-fiber crackers, such as whole-rye or multigrain crackers and whole=grain flatbread. Choose foods with whole wheat or whole grain listed as the first ingredient.
- Avoid the urge to lose weight fast. Healthy weight loss is gradual (1-2 pounds per week). Change your thinking from "I really need to lose 10 pounds right away" to "losing this weight gradually will help me keep it off for good." Be patient. You didn't gain weight overnight, so you can't expect to lose it overnight.
- What are some easy ways to eat 100 fewer calories per day? Cut out one slice of bread or a medium-sized cookie, or the amount of butter or margarine you would put on a slice of toast.
- What are some easy ways to use up 100 more calories per day? Add 20-30 minutes to your regular exercise routine, such as walking, bicycling, dancing or gardening. Take the stairs more and park farther away from the store.
- No matter what medications you are prescribed, they won't do any good if you don't take them as prescribed. If you are having trouble taking your medicine in the doses and time intervals recommended, discuss this with your doctor. Often, simple adjustments can make it easier.
- If something in the health care system is not working for you, ask how you can help to make it work better. Very often, if you learn the mysteries of the system, you can solve or at least partially solve your problems.
- As soon as you've finished eating, or even served up your portion, wrap up what you haven't eaten and put it in the refrigerator or freezer. This will discourage you from having seconds and also guarantees you'll have leftovers for the next day or whenever you don't want to cook.
- The key to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is to make changes you can tolerate, even enjoy. Unfortunately, when thinking about losing weight, most of us tend to think of all the things we can't eat anymore. Instead, think of it as learning to prepare your favorite foods differently, trying new foods and being creative.
SOURCE: "Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions: Self-management of Heart Disease, Diabetes, Asthma, Bronchitis, Emphysema and others" Third Edition, Kate Lorig, RN, DrPH, et al., 2006 Bull Publishing Company.