Make the Change
If you had to pick just one thing to change about your health habits right now, would you know how to prioritize your own list of goals? Often times, we recommend to focus and work on changing just one negative health habit at a time - and for good reason - it can produce more sustainable and successful long-term results! But what takes priority to start?
We have a large number of health care providers that refer their patients to a free Medical Fitness Program at Ochsner Fitness Center. I asked them this question, if they had to pick just one goal to recommend to their patients to improve their overall health, what would they recommend? Here’s what they said:
“Drink 8 ounces of cold water before each meal and snack.” - Dr. Jake Rodi | Ochsner Family Medicine
“I would recommend a daily exercise program. I try to recommend exercise to all of my patients. Movement is important. I think a good exercise program involves cardiovascular exercise but also strengthening/weight training. All of our joints work better when the muscles around them are strong.” - Christine Keating, MD | Ochsner Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
“I would recommend drinking more water and eliminating any sugar sweetened beverages.” - Kristina Raveendran, MD | Ochsner Family Medicine
“I encourage patients to think about how the food that they eat is really affecting them. I think if people can understand that what they are really getting is a temporary boost in brain chemicals but lingering blood sugar fluctuations, cravings and inflammation, reaching for food takes on a whole new meaning.” - Amanda G. Fontenot, MD | Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM). Obesity Medicine Specialist Ochsner Bariatric Surgery Department
“I would recommend maintaining a healthy diet (low-fat, low-sugar) and to keep moving! Women are often unaware how obesity can affect their female health. Obesity can cause irregular cycles and can make conceiving difficult. It’s important to maintain a healthy BMI. To do that, you have to watch what you eat and keep moving!” - Veronica Gillispie, MD | Ochsner Obstetrics & Gynecology
“I recommend to my patients that they take a regular inventory of their overall diet and see where they can make improvements. I then challenge them to make just one change until it becomes a new habit (usually 6-8 weeks). They can then tackle the next item. By slowly improving their dietary habits one at a time, they are more likely to make permanent lifestyle changes rather than trying crash diets or other fads that they cannot stick to for the long term.” - Laura Nicosia, MD | AMD of Primary Care and Medical Specialists - Ochsner Westbank
“I would say making health-related activities a priority in your routine pays huge dividends. So often, family and work needs crowd out time for your health and patients need to devote time and effort to do the things they know promote heath - exercise, relaxation, sleep and preventative screenings.” - Pedro Cazabon, MD | Associate Medical Director for Ochsner Primary Care
“Drink at least 80 ounces of water, try to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine (take stairs, etc.) and eat a diet high in protein!” - Patricia Elizabeth Thomas, MD | Ochsner Pediatric Cardiology
“Make exercise a priority, if you're not taking care of yourself, it’s hard to take care of anyone else.” - Elizabeth Lapeyre, MD | Ochsner Obstetrics & Gynecology
It's pretty evident that drinking more water and daily exercise are the top two most recommended necessities to improving your health. Let's face it though, making your health a priority takes time and energy all on its own. You may need to take time out of work to set appointments for screenings, wellness visits, etc. You may need to meet with a registered dietitian to get some healthy, customized options started for yourself and your family's meal plan. These are things that we often don't let take priority over work. There may even be a financial investment that may need to be considered.
To help you get started, we have a program that provides a FREE 30-day membership to a gym (pools and classes available), a FREE nutrition class, a FREE personal training session, and group training classes all as a part of our Medical Fitness Program at Ochsner Fitness Center. We even have one-on-one nutrition consultations available to help plan customized meal plans - and we now accept insurance! To qualify, all you need is a doctor's referral, and then you'll have removed a number of barriers that might otherwise prevent you from getting started on your health goals.
Rebecca Miller, MPH, RDN, LDN of Ochsner Fitness Center | creator and author of Twisted Nutrition | TwistedNutritionBlog.com.For more information she can be reached at 504-842-9551 or firstname.lastname@example.org