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A New Lifestyle!


Many people worry that living a healthy lifestyle is something hard to accomplish and in some cases, even say it is unrealistic. However, unrealistic is the wrong choice of words.


Is it hard?


Yes, it can be hard at first, but if you work at it daily, you will improve and eventually it will come naturally.


We know that it is not reality, yet we still try to find that one pill, beverage, or food that will help us lose the pounds and shed them fast.


There is no one, simple solution or miracle pill that is going to help us lose weight and live a healthier life.


You can do it!


It takes hard work and discipline.Being healthy is a choice and a lifestyle that will reap amazing benefits, if you stick to it daily.


You might be asking yourself, “What exactly is a healthy lifestyle?”


The Mediterranean lifestyle is the way to go.


There are many benefits to living in accordance to the Mediterranean lifestyle.

It is important for us to give you an idea of what exactly it entails.


Even though there are slight variations of this lifestyle, Willett et al.(1995) characterize it by its incorporation of daily exercise and a diet consisting of:

  • a low consumption of red meat (a few times per month)

  • low to moderate consumption of fish, poultry, and eggs (a few times per week)

  • daily consumption of abundant amounts of plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole breads, pastas, etc.)

  • small amounts of dairy products (mainly yogurt and cheese)

  • moderate consumption of wine (one to two glasses per day for men and one glass a day for women)

  • olive oil as the main source of fat in the diet.

In regards to the benefits of the diet portion of this lifestyle, scientific evidence demonstrates that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet has multiple positive effects on the body.

Faustino, Chedraui, Haya, and Cuadros (2009) report that living in accordance to the Mediterranean diet can increase one’s life span.

In a study of both men and women, those who followed the diet the closest were approximately 10-20% less likely to die of heart disease and cancer. The main contributing factor seems to be due to the use of olive oil and its antioxidant potential (Faustino et al., 2009).


The Mediterranean diet has been shown to

  • reduce the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome

  • help lower blood pressure

  • prevent cardiovascular events

  • reduce the risk of death after a heart attack

  • reduce peripheral artery disease

  • reduce the risk of obesity

  • have a positive effect on bone metabolism, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease(Faustino et al., 2009)

  • help with the prevention of depression (Sa´nchez-Villegas, Henrı´quez, Bes-Rastrollo, & Doreste, 2006).

The diet aspect of the Mediterranean lifestyle is very important, but there are other factors that come into play in this lifestyle that may improve quality of life.


Families that adhere to the lifestyle actually sit down together and enjoy meals. Faustino et al. (2009) say that the concept of a fast-food meal is typically non-existent in the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle. Maybe this is something important that is missing from a typical American’s lifestyle. We are constantly busy and so engrossed in technology, that we do not take the time to sit down with the one’s we love and enjoy good conversation at the dinner table. Family dinners have been linked to lower levels of depression (Cook & Dunifon, 2012). Would we enjoy life more if we actually slowed down and enjoyed our meals and loved ones? I know that when I get to sit down with my family and enjoy an easy-going meal with them, it seems to leave me more satisfied and puts me in a better mood than if I were to quickly grab something to eat and run out the door.


Toobert et al. (2003) conducted a study in order to test the effectiveness of the Mediterranean Lifestyle Program (MLP). The program addressed diet, physical activity, stress management, social support, and smoking. All components of the program were based around trying to achieve the “Mediterranean feel.” Participants were taught the fundamentals of the Mediterranean diet and were advised to achieve a physical activity goal that followed American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines. The MLP participants were also taught stress management techniques (e.g., yoga, meditation, etc.). They were asked to practice these at least one hour a day. The findings of this study demonstrated that those in the MLP had significantly greater improvements in their eating patterns, physical activity, social support, stress management/coping, smoking cessation, self-efficacy, and problem-solving abilities as compared to the control group. The MLP group also saw improvements in regards to their weight and quality of life (Toobert et al., 2003). So, even though people think that living a healthy lifestyle is only about diet and exercise, this research reveals something quite different.


I know what you might be thinking, “Okay, sure the Mediterranean lifestyle is very beneficial, but I don’t have the time, money, or discipline to do something like this.” What if we told you, that is not true! With a few simple steps, you can be on your way to making a successful life change.


So, when you really want something, you first have to make the decision that you do really want it and then you set goals and go after it.


In regards to living a healthy lifestyle, you must first choose if that is something you really want. If you do not take that first important step, you will not be able to make that positive change of lifestyle.


Wouldn't everyone like to live a long, healthy life and look good while doing it? Perhaps, Yes!


What do you do next after you make the decision to live in accordance with the Mediterranean lifestyle?


The first thing that I suggest is to go through your refrigerator and pantry and take an inventory of what you have. See if it falls in accordance with the Mediterranean lifestyle. Once you find things that do not belong in the Mediterranean lifestyle, change out those items for healthier choices. Get rid of that butter and use olive oil instead. Throw out those cheese puffs and replace them with almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and other natural, healthy snacks. Swap out that white rice and bread for brown rice and whole wheat bread.


You will want to stay away from refined foods and stick to the whole, natural foods. The healthier food choices can end up being more expensive, but it is worth it to eat healthier, feel better, and reduce your risk of having future health problems.


If you start eating healthy foods now, this will decrease the likelihood of having unwanted doctor visits, a heart attack, or other illnesses. By making healthier choices, you are doing the best you can to lead a healthy life.


If getting rid of all your unhealthy foods at once makes you feel uncomfortable, it is okay to start slowly and change out one or two unhealthy foods for something healthier every week.

For example, try trading your sweets for fruit instead. Not only is it healthier for you, but it will leave you feeling more full and satisfied than the sweets.


The next step you should take is to start incorporating exercise into your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be some extremely strenuous exercise. Walking for 30 minutes a day can give you some health benefits. No matter what your choice of exercise, take baby steps and don’t rush into things. It is okay to start slow and work your way up.


Finally, start implementing some form of stress reduction techniques in your life. Whether you decide to meditate for five minutes, stretch, or perform yoga, make sure that you ease your way in to this as well.


In making this transition over to the Mediterranean lifestyle, it is important that you take one step at a time and perfect each step before moving onto the next. Just be careful about putting too much on your plate at once (no pun intended).


On a serious note, if you do end up trying to change everything at once, this can lead to failure and discouragement in the end. Slow and easy wins the race!


Try making some changes today! Go through that pantry and take note of what you see. Start today and your body will thank you later!



References

Cook, E. & Dunifon, R. (2012). Do family meals make a difference? Retrieved from http://www.human.cornell.edu/pam/outreach/upload/Family-Mealtimes-2.pdf

Faustino R., López, P., Chedraui, P., Hayac, J. & Cuadros, J. L.(2009). Effects of the

Mediterranean diet on longevity and age-related morbid conditions. Maturitas, 64: 67-79.

Ruggiero, L. (2000). Helping people with diabetes change behavior: from theory to practice.

Diabetes Spectrum, 13(3): 125.

Sa´nchez-Villegas A., Henrı´quez, P., Bes-Rastrollo, M., & Doreste, J. (2006). Mediterranean

diet and depression. Public Health Nutrition, 9(8A): 1104-1109.

Toobert, D. J., Glasgow, R. E., Strycker, L. A., Barrera, M. Jr., Radcliffe, J. L., Wander, R. C., &

Bagdade, J. D. (2003). Biologic and quality-of-life outcomes from the Mediterranean lifestyle program. Diabetes Care, 26: 2288-2293.

Willett, W. C., Sacks, F., Trichopoulou, A., Drescher, G., Ferro-Luzzi, A., Helsing, E., &

Trichopoulos, D. (1995). Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 61: 1402S-6S.




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Health and happiness,

Alicia Williamson RN, BSN, MSNW, CHC

&

Kylie Glastetter BA, MS, EP-C, CHC

www.healthmattersllc.biz













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*The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problems or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise program or dietary supplements. You should not stop taking any medications without first consulting your physician.