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Winter Wellness....Think Spring The SeniorScape®

This week while consulting in a nursing home located in a rural area quite distant from where I live, I found myself thinking of my ex-husband on a memory care unit in a nursing home. This made the week that much more difficult. It seems that everything I’m seeing I’m feeling more intensely, especially as it relates to the medical conditions of the patient’s admitted.


Most of the patients admitted are, at the very least overweight; but the greatest number probably fall into the category of being obese, and many morbidly obese. I commented to one of the nurses who told me that this area has one of the highest incidences of obesity in the state. Indeed, most of the nursing and care staff, regardless of age, fall into the category of obesity. It seems antithetical when considering the area is rich in farmland; livestock, fresh fruits and vegetables abound.

It brought me once again to the thinking that the conditions we normally associate with aging are not foregone conclusions. Diabetes being chief among the ones associated with obesity and I’ve seen thousands of diabetics with amputated limbs as a result of complications related to diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, every 30 seconds there is someone in the world who has a limb related amputation secondary to diabetes related complications.

Admittedly, there are factors beyond our control that do affect our health and wellbeing. But we can also reverse the course on many of them.

According to Mayo Clinic Cardiologist and Cancer Survivor Stephen Kopecky, MD, there are 6 steps you can take to prevent heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and more which includes:

1.    Changing unproductive habits in favor of ones that serve you at the highest level of health,

2.    Getting the information you need, so you can make the most informed choices,

3.    Finding the motivating factors that will allow you to make and sustain the best choices for your physical and mental wellbeing.

If asked, most people would say they care about themselves. The 6 steps outlined in Dr. Kopecky’s book Live Younger Longer actually fall into the categories of self-care and self-compassion. They may be simple, but not necessarily easy. It takes practice and commitment.

One only has to take the first step.  So Why Wait?

Maybe it seems uncomfortable to change habits that fit like a comfortable old shoe. But, even old shoes come to the point when they have to be discarded because they are no longer useful, so it is with habits.

As a result, I’ve been more keenly observing what people are eating. What I see is that most people are eating typical fast or convenience foods, processed foods with lists of artificial ingredients that are also full of sugar, salt, fat, and everything that’s made to taste yummy so that you come back for more. Foods that are not made with wellness in mind.

What small habit or mindset shift can you make for a commitment to winter wellness. The habit you want to change is as important as the words you use for the path you want to travel.

Example: “I’m going to eat healthier.” is a general statement that does not necessarily put you on a path to make better choices. It is far to general and seems overwhelming.

A more practical and helpful statement would be:

 “I’m going to eat at least one vegetable with each meal and two pieces of fruit each day.”

Selecting one or two things on which to focus bodes for more success because it’s more measurable and doable. It’s also easier because there is a specific time frame during the day when you are going to incorporate this change and it is paired with something you are already doing.

In addition, adding vegetables adds color to the meal. We all eat with our eyes first. A colorful plate is more appealing than one that looks drab.

It also creates a positive mindset for what you can do, rather than reinforcing the negative of what you can’t. The latter often leads you to more of what you were doing prior to the desired habit change because you feel deprived and restricted. It also sets up more negative thinking.

Fruits are also a good food choice to include because of their natural sweetness and, therefore, can be a good substitute to satisfy sweet cravings. Though some suggest to be wary of fruits because of their high sugar content, the natural sweetness in fruits is vastly different from added sugar found in process foods.

According to Robert Lustig, MD, author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease fruits also contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both slow the absorption of the sugar from fruit, thereby preventing high spikes in blood sugar. “So even if you’re taking in a lot of sugar with some fruits, you’re not absorbing that sugar," Lustig adds.  

Nowadays, smoothies are all the rage and seem a quicker and easier way to consume fruits. The reality is that blending fruit in a smoothie blender breaks down the insoluble fiber which translates into diluting that benefit usually derived from the original intention for consuming the fruit. This leads your body to absorbing a lot more sugar from the fruit in a short period of time. Therefore, be cautious about consuming too much of your fruit via smoothies.

Keto as well as other diets may limit or even eliminate fruits based on their carbohydrate content so you can remain in the fat burning mode called ketosis. However, in doing so, you also may be losing out on some of benefits of the fruits rich in antioxidants which also are high in their disease-fighting powers. This of course is what we know about berries.

Another habit to consider is adding a salad before at least one meal/day. This is another way of adding vegetables. I believe my mother instilled a wonderful healthful habit by including a small salad with every meal. To this day, if I go even a few days without a salad, I crave the crunch, colors and textures that I experience whenever I eat one. I thought of it today especially because yesterday would have been my mother’s birthday.

It is important to remember that dousing the salad in dressing is akin to adding a lot of empty and unnecessary calories. Many years ago, I began taking my salad dressing on the side. I lightly dip the tines of my fork into the dressing before adding the vegetables. This gives me a hint of the dressing flavor without oodles of calories. In addition, vegetables and mixed greens are filling and packed with fiber. The positive benefit is that you’d likely eat less thereby contributing to controlling portion size.

In thinking about Winter Wellness, it might be a good idea to think what lies beyond the winter and actually, Think Spring. 

The time to begin is within, the time to begin is now!!!

Make the Rest of Your Life, the Best of Your Life!!!!! 

Age Magnificently!!!!

Find out how the IMpathy® program can help you on the road to habit changes that will lead to better health and well being.

You can also book a time on my calendar:













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