Experts can help you rectify poor lifestyle choices from smoking cigarettes to not exercising. Learn how to correct these past health mistakes to improve your well-being and reduce or reverse the damage that years of detrimental repetitions have inflicted on your body.
“The quickest way to improve your health if you’re a smoker is to quit now rather than later,” said Shelena C. Lalji, M.D., of the Dr. Shel Wellness and Medical Spa in Houston, Texas. “Research shows that people who quit smoking when they’re in their 30s and 40s have a much lower risk of emphysema, stroke, hypertension, and cardiac disease.”
According to the American Cancer Society, your lung function improves dramatically and your circulation revitalizes after three months of not smoking. Your coronary heart disease risk drops 50 percent one year after quitting. Order smoking cessation aids like nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges online to reduce your cravings and increase your quitting success.
Making a fitness pledge is one of the best ways to reclaim your smoke-ravaged lungs. “Increasing exercise both during the transition from smoker to nonsmoker and afterward will help you keep the commitment to yourself while improving circulation, gaining lung capacity, and reducing cardiac-related problems,” Lalji said.
While experts say that you can’t reverse alcohol-related damage completely, certain changes can improve your liver function and overall health. Drinking can cause fat to build up in your liver, making it work harder to metabolize fat, according to Dr. Carlos Tirado, M.D., MPH, chief medical officer at Enter health and an addiction disease management provider in Dallas, Texas.
He recommends a weight-loss regimen and low-fat diet to help your liver recover from excess alcohol. “In general, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and reducing fat — especially trans fat and saturated fat — can enhance recovery from alcohol-related liver injury,” Tirado said. If you don’t stop drinking completely, health experts recommend limiting alcohol to a maximum of one drink per day for women and two for men.
Get the vital nutrients you need without going on a restrictive diet by eating one salad every day, suggests Brian Zehetner, MS, a registered dietician from Hastings, Minn. “The primary reason to have a salad is because it helps to reduce the energy density of the diet,” he said. “You can eat a very large salad for very few calories.”
You’ll also load up on vegetables that provide vitamins C and E, selenium, beta-carotene, and fiber. Add 3 ounces of lean chicken to create a filling meal. If you eat a salad once a day for a year, you could lose up to 30 pounds without making any other major dietary changes.
Your body lays down bone mass until your early 30s. In your teens and 20s, you have time to reverse inadequate calcium intake and start building stronger bones, according to Nikki Tierney, a registered dietician in Quincy, Mass. If you’re older, you may have missed the opportunity to build bone mass. But you still can prevent more bone loss.
Women who are 19-50 years old need 1000 milligrams of calcium per day. Those 51 and up require 1200. “You absorb calcium best from food sources, so be sure to include these in your diet,” she said. Tierney recommends three servings of milk or yogurt each day. Or get your calcium from 1/2 cup firm tofu (204 milligrams), 3-ounce canned salmon (181 milligrams), 1 cup pinto beans (103 milligrams), or 1 cup cooked kale (94 milligrams). If you don’t get enough in your diet, order calcium prescriptionsonline.
Even if you’ve never worked out, you can acquire muscles through a good fitness strategy, according to Sarah Clachar, a New England-based health educator, fitness expert, and cofounder of Fit Family Together. “When you start to use your muscles, you can regain them — at any age,” she said. If you’ve been inactive for years, your muscles aren’t ready for an intense jog or hike. To avoid injury, focus on strength training first. “Start by building up your muscles so you have the capacity to do exercise,” she recommended.
Consider interval training, short bursts of intense exercise. Research shows that this method has more impact on your health with less wear and tear, and it works faster and is easier to do. Exercise in short, intensive spurts. Walk briskly for 1 minute or bike hard for 4 minutes. Stop, rest, and repeat. This technique can pack 30 minutes of regular exercise into just 15 with less injury risk.
Establishing and Changing Habits
Extensive research confirms that every habit includes a cue or trigger, routine, and reward. Your neurological circuitry helps your brain latch onto a particular pattern to make it automatic. So trying to extinguish a neural pathway that you associate with a specific cue, routine and reward is very challenging. Changing the habit is a better strategy. Find a new routine that correspond with the old cue and reward but is different and better.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a great example of this. The cue is a long day at work. Afterward, the routine is going to a bar and getting a drink. Your reward is relaxation and perhaps a little emotional conversation. To change that habit, go to an AA meeting after a long workday instead.