Women

Small Changes = Big Results

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Forget making big changes in 2013. Experts say a series of small changes is more likely to deliver better health because they’re easier to stick to over time.

Small is big news for 2013. Especially when it comes to change. Just ask the British Olympic cycling team. The secret to their glittering medal tally in last year’s Olympics was ‘marginal gains’ – that’s sports-speak for the big successes that come from taking tiny steps over a set period. “They’re the one per cent advantage you apply to as many areas of your life as possible that add up to a much bigger advantage over time,” says performance scientist Dr Kirstie Tew at BodyMedia Fit.

While most of us are unlikely to stick to big changes, we can use this theory by making tiny changes to lots of areas that can add up to better health in the long term.

Know your numbers

Everyone over 45 should have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked, says Dr Robert Grenfell, the Heart Foundation’s National Director for Cardiovascular Health. “There are no obvious symptoms for high blood pressure and high cholesterol and having a heart attack can be the first sign,” says Grenfell. Generally, cholesterol should be <4.0 mmol/L with the ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol <2.0 mmol/L and the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol >1 mmol/L. Blood pressure should generally be less than 120/80 mmHg.

Everyone over 45 should have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked

Everyone over 45 should have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked

For information

Call 1300 36 27 87 or visit heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart.

Pause for thought

Research from Duke University in the US has found a strong association between expressing anger repeatedly and an inflammatory marker of heart disease called C-reactive protein. Press the stop key, says Dr Martin Shirran, psychologist and author of Pause Button Therapy (available from Amazon). In the book you learn to visualize the likely results of your actions as if you were watching a film, he explains. “Say you’re about to lose it with your children. You press pause to give yourself some thinking time to consider a question such as, ‘What will be the best outcome for my child?’” says Shirran.

Tiny changes that add up

It takes a deficit of about 32,000 kilojoules to lose one kilogram. Dr Tew shows that small changes could add up to a big difference in the next year.

It takes a deficit of about 32,000 kilojoules to lose one kilogram

It takes a deficit of about 32,000 kilojoules to lose one kilogram

TINY CHANGE

IMPACT IN ONE YEAR

Vacuuming for half an hour once a week

22,932kJ BURNED

Washing and drying the dishes everyday

18,434kJ BURNED

Going for a 30-minute walk five times a week

81,900kJ BURNED

Walking around while on the phone for a total 30 minutes a day

45,990kJ BURNED

Swap a full-size chocolate bar to a treat-size five days a week

174,720kJ BURNED

Swap 7 glasses of red wine a week with 3 glasses of champagne interchanged with mineral water

119,684kJ SAVED

Potential loss in 12 months: 14KG

 

What to know exactly what you’re burning?

The new BodyMedia FIT armband, worn all day and night, measures exact activity, kilojoules burned, steps taken and even sleep quality, and stores it online. In trials, people using it lost three times more weight than those who didn’t. Available from blackandstone.com.au/bodymedia-fit.

Don’t delay the doc

Many things can put people off seeing their doctors, says Professor Ian Olver, chief executive of Cancer Council Australia, including fear of finding something wrong or of wasting their GP’s time. “But the earlier a cancer is detected, the higher your chances of survival,” he says. If you notice any if these changes see your doctor sooner rather later.

Don’t delay the doc

Don’t delay the doc

·         Lumps, sores or ulcers that don’t heal.

·         Coughs that don’t go away, show blood or a hoarseness that hangs around.

·         Unexplained weight loss.

·         Moles that have changed shape, size or colour or bleed, or an inflamed skin sore that hasn’t healed.

·         Blood in a bowel motion

·         Persistent changes in toilet habits.

·         Urinary problems or changes.

·         Any breast changes such as lumps, thickening, unusual discharge, inverted nipples, shape changes or pain.

·         Persistent abdominal pain or bloating

Jump a little

Plyometrics are high-impact moves such as jumping on and off a step and jump squats that, added to a workout, send fat burn through the roof. A 2007 study published in the Journal Of Dance Medicine & Science found people who did plyometric exercises twice a week for six weeks increased strength by 37 per cent (more strength equals more fat burned). “Plyometrics melt kilojoules also after you’ve finished your workout for up to eight hours,” says top trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read. This is the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC effect; the cranking up of kilojoule burn after a tough workout. Lucy’s free app, Personal Trainer Lite, is available from iTunes or go to lwrfitness.com.

Give up diet drinks

Diet drinks have no kilojoules so they won’t impact weight, right? Except they do. People who drink diet drinks are fatter than those that don’t. University of Texas Health Science Centre researchers found that people who drank 21 diet drinks a week were twice as likely to be overweight as those who didn’t.

People who drink diet drinks are fatter than those that don’t

People who drink diet drinks are fatter than those that don’t

“Diet drinks feed a sweet tooth as artificial sweeteners can be 13,000 times sweeter than sugar,” says nutritionist Zoë Harcombe. “This perpetuates our desire for sweet things”. Sweeteners can also trigger a desire to eat more. “When it receives a sweet taste without the kilojoules it expects, the body can inadvertently seek out more real sugar, triggering sweet cravings,” says Harcombe. Obesity researchers now speculate that this could also inhibit the production of hormones that make us feel full after eating. Drink sparkling or still water with some fresh lime or lemon juice added, suggests Harcombe.

Get the alpha effect

You probably know the antioxidant effects of beta-carotene, found primarily in carrots. Now researchers have identified another vegetable nutrient called alpha-carotene that could also lead to a longer, healthier life. Research from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people who consumed foods high in this nutrient had fewer health troubles than those that didn’t. But they stressed the benefits came from eating fruits and vegetables high in alpha-carotene, not supplements. Find it in sweet potato, rockmelon, mango, broccoli and Brussels sprouts and kiwifruit.

Learn to really read a label

“Reading labels prompts healthier choices and people who do have lower BMIs than those don’t”, says Natasha Murray from the dietitians Association of Australia.

“Reading labels prompts healthier choices and people who do have lower BMIs than those don’t”, says Natasha Murray from the dietitians Association of Australia.

Women who read food labels are 4kg lighter than those that don’t, found a study published in the journal Agricultural Economics. “Reading labels prompts healthier choices and people who do have lower BMIs than those don’t”, says Natasha Murray from the dietitians Association of Australia. When comparing foods use the ‘per 100g’ column on the right-hand side of the panel, she says. Here is a guide:

·         Sugar

If sugar is in the first three ingredients listed on a food it’s not the best choice.

Hidden sugars include glucose, corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, raw sugar, cane sugar, malt extract, molasses, sucrose, honey, brown sugar, monosaccarides, disaccharides, golden syrup or ‘modified carbohydrate’.

·         Salt

Less than 120mg of sodium/100g.

Limit foods with more than 600mg sodium per 100g (aim to limit sodium to less than 2300mg per day).

·         Fat

Less than 10g/100g though less than 5g/100g is better and less than 2g/100g is best.

Hidden fats include coconut, coconut oil, copha, cream, dripping, lard, mayonnaise, sour cream, nuts, oil, palm oil, toasted and oven fried/baked, vegetable oil/fat, animal fat/oil, shortening, lard, tallow, milk solids, butter fat, monoglycerides, diglycerides.

·         Fibre

Choose foods with the highest amount of fibre per 100g.

Adults should aim for 30g fibre per day or more.

 

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