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Healthy Lifestyle

Taking Control of Your Lifestyle

Taking Control of Your Lifestyle
Author
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

Why should you bother making healthy lifestyle choices when you may be tempted to order pizza or watch television? Making healthy choices may seem tough sometimes, but they are worth the effort. As you may have just learned in the Lark lesson, poor dietary choices and a lack of physical activity may be responsible for a quarter of all hospitalizations. 

It never feels good to learn that you are at risk for a chronic disease, but it feels a lot better when you realize that you have a lot of control over your future health. When you take full advantage of the coaching in Lark DPP, you will be guided towards eating better and getting more active – both critical in lowering diabetes risk, and both under your control.

That is, you can do it!

The Why and How of Healthy Weight


There are reasons why obesity has been called an epidemic and a health crisis. It is an epidemic because it is officially recognized as a disease. Plus, it affects a large number of people, about one-third of American adults, with another third being overweight. 

Obesity is a health crisis because it is a risk factor for many conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and, of course, prediabetes and diabetes. Obesity is such a strong risk factor for diabetes that someone who is obese may have a risk of developing diabetes that is 2.5 to 5 times as high as someone who has a “normal” weight (body mass index under 25), and about one-third of diabetes cases may be due to obesity.,

It can be hard to lose weight and keep it off, as anyone who has ever tried can tell you, but there are glimmers of hope. One bright spot is that you do not need to hit a so-called “normal weight” to get benefits. You can lower your risk for diabetes by 16% for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) that you lose.

If you can lose 5 to 7% of your body weight, you may lower diabetes risk by about half. Losing a few pounds may be much more doable than trying to lose 30, 50, or 100!

Another glimmer of hope is that you do not need to make drastic changes or follow fad diets to lose weight. You can watch extra pounds come off when you make manageable changes that work with your lifestyle. For example,

  • Have an open-faced sandwich, or scoop the inside dough out from bagels and sub rolls, and use mustard instead of mayo.

  • Get salad dressing on the side and use only half. 

  • Ask for a side of steamed vegetables instead of potatoes or rice.

  • Swap half or all of the spaghetti for spiralized zucchini “zoodles.”

  • Have two tacos instead of a burrito, and thin crust pizza with light cheese instead of thick crust pizza with regular cheese.

Lark can help you with these changes or whichever ones you are ready to make. To get more from Lark DPP, be sure to weigh yourself at least weekly and log it in Lark. When you hold yourself accountable and let Lark track your weight for you, you can be more motivated to make the healthier choices each day.

Getting Active to Prevent T2


Activity can help prevent type 2 diabetes in many ways. It certainly helps with weight control, as it burns calories and can help keep you aware of your food choices. Physical activity can make you feel more confident in your ability to eat well, and that can become a happy self-fulfilling prophecy as you indeed make good food choices. Exercise further lowers diabetes risk by improving cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure.

Physical activity also has direct effects on diabetes prevention. When you exercise, your muscles use glucose for some of their fuel. The glucose needs to be replaced, and the source is glucose from the blood. Insulin sensitivity increases and muscles take up glucose from your blood many times faster than when you have not exercised.

In Lark DPP, you learned that a good goal is to hit at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. At this intensity, you should have enough breath to be able to talk in short sentences, but not sing. Common examples are weeding, brisk walking, hiking, cycling, and swimming, but you do not need to stick to the beaten path. Try rowing, playing tennis, taking a hip-hop class, or swinging a kettlebell.

There is no need to be discouraged if exercising for 30 minutes at a time, at least five days per week, is impossible for you at this time. If you are too busy or not physically able to hit those goals, keep these points in mind.

  • At least 150 minutes per week is best.

  • You can hit your activity goal by adding up 10-minute increments. You do not need to do the entire 30 minutes at once.

  • Any amount counts. If you are at a level where 5 minutes a day is more appropriate for you, do your 5 minutes a day. You will get benefits, and can increase when you are ready.

You can make it easier for yourself by finding activities that you love (it can take a few tries) and scheduling exercise into your calendar so you save time and do not forget. Log your activity in Lark and let Lark give you tips and motivation. For starters, remember that every time you move, you are reducing insulin resistance.

Are You What You Eat?


Is the old adage, “You are what you eat,” true? If not literally, there is certainly a lot of truth in its sentiment. You may not turn into broccoli if you eat some, or become a cola if you drink one, but you may be a smidgeon healthier when you choose broccoli, and a smidgeon less healthy when you drink soft drinks. The effects go beyond the effects on your weight.

The foods and beverages you choose can have a strong impact on your insulin sensitivity, your blood sugar, and your risk for type 2 diabetes. Luckily, the anti-diabetes foods are basically the same as any health-diet foods, and the blood sugar-raising foods are the foods you might expect, too.

Lark DPP coaches you on a healthy diet for preventing type 2 diabetes. Take full advantage by logging each of your meals and snacks and going through the feedback from your Lark coach. Keep in mind that the more you practice the healthy choices, the more automatic they become. They may seem difficult at first, but you may soon find yourself reaching for whole grains instead of refined or pouring yourself water instead of soda without even thinking.

Simple Changes You Can Make

Choose more often…

Limit…

  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fruit
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
  • Nuts, peanuts
  • Avocados
  • Olive and vegetable oils
  • Reduced-fat dairy products
  • Processed meats
  • Fatty red meat
  • Sugary foods
  • Fried foods
  • Refined grains
  • Butter and saturated fats

Your Health Is in Your Hands


Whenever you lack motivation or wonder why you should bother trying, remember that your healthy choices can have a big impact. You may not realize the health effects on a daily basis, but each vegetable you choose and each minute you cycle count in your plan to lower diabetes risk. 

Your own choices have the most influence on your risk for diabetes, so be confident and take charge while keeping Lark at your side!