TIME Magazine recently published their first cover story in what will now be an annual series titled: “Annual Check-up: The Sorry State of Americans Health. Perhaps it’s my own desire to become more healthy, but the timeliness of this article could not be better, especially with HealthyPeople 2020 around the corner.

Reading this article, I immediately got hooked. The article opens with:

If you’re like 67% of Americans, you’re currently overweight or obese. If you’re like 27%, your blood pressure is too high. If you’re like a whopping 96% of the population, you may not be able to recall the last time you had a salad, since you’re one of the hundreds of millions of Americans who rarely eat enough vegetables. And what you do eat, you don’t burn off — assuming you’re like the 40% of us who get no exercise.

These are big statistics. However, I appreciate TIME’s article because it goes beyond giving statistics, but also draws some analysis and connects some dots by providing 5 Truths about Health Care in America as well as an A-Z guide of pertinent health issues. One of the most important points I think the whole article makes relates to the health of future Americans:

Most troubling of all, if you’re like any parent of any child anywhere in the world, you may be passing your health habits to your children, which explains why experts fear that this generation of American kids may be the first ever to have a shorter life span than their parents do.

I find this most important because it’s about more than statistics. No one wants to be a number. And it’s a general idea that we all want what’s best for our children, and future Americans. We know that. But, what if eating breakfast daily, recycling or drinking more water means healthier living habits for those we treasure most – our kids.

ACTIVITY. Flip through family picture albums, or carouse friends’ pictures on Facebook that relate to family gatherings. In terms of health, who are the role-models? It’s not just about healthy eating, exercise and a healthy weight. But who are the kids looking up to? Who has a positive lifestyle, who’s words are positive and encouraging, who is giving, who lives what they say, who has a regular doctor, who has an infectious outlook on life or self-esteem. We should want to be these people.

MAKE HEALTH A PRIORITY. I highly encourage checking this article out in more depth, especially if you work in health or a health-related field. My mother always tells me, “When it’s come to your health, you have to make your health a priority.” This is easier said than done. But, here are some tips and tricks to being healthy this holiday season.

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AT A PARTY:

  • Give away leftovers. If you are hosting a party and there are left over goodies, give them away to your guests. Not only is it an added treat and gift for them, but it means you don’t have to find yourself eating the leftover cherry cobbler and cheesy potatoes.
  • Recycle. If the party calls for a gift, use newspapers as the wrapping paper to encourage recycling.
  • Moderate consumption. Use a smaller cup to fill your drinks, and a smaller plate for your food. This is an automatic way to moderate your food and beverage consumption as holiday parties often mean holiday-type food and drinks that are heavier in fat and calories.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Duh right? But to help curb this behavior, provide a Taxi number for your guests or put one in your phone before you leave for the night. Or, just designate a driver.
  • Prioritize. There is a lot going on. Prioritize which parties and gatherings you need and want to attend. Don’t overdue it by trying to be the top party-goer this season. Plus, wouldn’t you rather have longer, more in-depth conversations with a few new friends, than meet 20+ but only be able recall the person’s name, if that?

AT WORK

  • Take mints, not M&Ms. (voiced from experience) For the candy dish, instead of bringing chocolate-rich candies to work, bring candy canes or peppermints as peppermints is still festive, but also healthier.
  • Focus. Holidays make work even more stressful as you multi-task. However, when you are in a meeting or working on a task, focus and be all there. Otherwise, you are doing yourself and everyone else involved a dis-service.
  • Set realistic deadlines. Put in the extra effort, but don’t overwork yourself to the point you are counter-productive. You can balance this by taking deep breathes, finding helpers, and planning vacation time in advance.
  • Make time for sleep. Again, if you are not rested and ready to take on the day, you will get behind and be counter-productive. Know your limits.
  • AT HOME

    • Create your own health e-card. The CDC has both health e-cards that outline 12 Ways to Health as well as holiday e-cards as well.
    • Cook safely and clean often. Germs and bacteria have a tendency to get around during the holidays. The FDA has food safety tips specifically for the holidays!
    • Treat yourself with time. Instead of overindulging, treat yourself with 15 minutes of YOU time. During the holidays, it’s easy to get over-stressed and overwhelmed. Taking 15 minutes just for you, can make all the difference.
    • Get away from the computer. This goes especially to my social media friends, you work hard all year round. Take a day off-line. No email. No social networks. No nothing. We will all be here after the holidays. It’ll be okay. =)
    • Shovel snow. This is not only a great exercise, but it’s also gets you outside. You can even offer to shovel for your neighbors or for the elderly and make your workout into a surprise holiday gift.
    • Be a kid again. Build snowmen, go ice-skating or dig out that sled. This increases time with the kids, while also providing a workout.

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    What do you think? What tips and tricks have I missed?

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