by John Spannuth, ARNP

“Eat better! Move more!” It seems these two thoughts are often in the back of our minds.

Many patients have built these simple guidelines into giant, insurmountable goals. They believe they’re failing unless they’re running five miles a day or eating a vegan diet. Our hectic schedules can often keep us from starting. We put off even small changes for tomorrow, the weekend, or make them resolutions for the New Year. The problem is that we often never get started. So where do we start?

If you’ve visited your Vera clinic, you’ve probably heard us talk about “behavior change.” We believe that people want to look and feel better. Here’s a secret. Behavior change can start by partnering with your Vera team to tackle small goals. Progressively, you can achieve things you never imagined possible.

Your health is a priority to us. We want your health to be a priority to you too. Our goal at Vera is to team with you to help you accomplish your goals, and feel happier and healthier along the way.

How To Start Moving More:

People always think they can start later – I’ll do that next year, when I turn 40, or 50. We love to give ourselves barriers. But life catches up with you. How you live in your 20s and 30s affects how your body feels in your 40s and 50s. There’s really no time to start like the present.

Start small! Do something disruptive, something now – don’t wait. It’s all about the small changes that add up over time. If you’re currently sedentary, you can’t just get up and run 3 miles. Start by parking your car further away from work or the store. Maybe add in two 10-minute walks this week.

I’ve borrowed the term joyful movement from one of our providers. Exercise can have a negative connotation. But what brings you joy and makes you happy? Is it gardening, is it biking? How often do you do that? What do you enjoy? Do that thing just a little more often or increase the length. You’ll feel healthier sooner than you think.

The Case For Eating Better:

Food is a powerful. It gives us life-long health benefits. In fact, one of my favorite quotes says it best:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
—Hippocrates

It’s true that eating well takes time, and tends to be more expensive. I encourage patients to think about the long-term costs. How much does it cost to get a triple bypass, or to manage a chronic disease like diabetes? It might be worth making some smaller sacrifices starting now, rather than having to deal with the long-term effects of an unhealthy diet later in life.

Again, start small. Ask yourself what one thing you could change today. I had one patient start by switching his white bread to 9 grain. He was surprised to find out how much he liked it! And after that became part of his routine, he added one more healthy food swap. What you eat now, and the time you use to prepare your food, will not only help you feel better in the short term (more energy, etc), but you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.

My family does this by practicing inclusion. We buy one new fruit or vegetable at the store each week that we haven’t tried before. We prepare it, we talk about it, if we like it we add it to our regular meal rotation. If not, we try again the next week.

Try being more mindful with meals. Slow down and take a moment to enjoy your food. Breathe it in, take a few extra minutes to eat. Enjoy it!

You can start making a small step toward your goals today. And remember – it’s always helpful to get some support. Vera Health Coaches and providers are here to partner with you. We’d love to help you start tackling small goals, and achieve them. This isn’t a dictatorship – you’re in charge! If you want to eat better and move a little more, we can help.