For many adults who experience chronic pain on a daily basis, their symptoms are exacerbated by a poor diet and little or no daily exercise.
Being proactive in maintaining a health and wellness routine can pay off down the road when you are older.
Dr. John Michels, a pain management specialist with Texas Pain Relief Group in Grapevine, TX, offers a few tips for getting on the right track to living a healthy life and minimize the risk of pain from poor health.
Question: What kind of exercises should I be doing on a regular basis?
Dr. Michels: “It’s important to find fun exercises that get you moving every day. Things like walking a dog, riding a bike or going for a swim. The goal is to progress to strength training two or three times per week. Some great strength training exercises are push-ups, pull-ups, body weight squats and planks.”
Question: Eating well is hard to do. What kind of advice can you give me?
Dr. Michels: “Have three moderate-size meals per day with healthy snacks in between, The goal is to never actually be hungry. Don’t overindulge. Some healthy snacks are raw almonds; vegetables such as carrot sicks, broccoli and celery; and whey protein shakes with almond milk, fresh spinach and dark berries. When at the grocery store, shop the perimeter of the store. That’s where you will find fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Don’t forget about whole grains, too.”
Q: What kinds of foods should I avoid?
Dr. Michels: “Steer clear of processed foods, sugary drinks such as soda, candy, and food containing high fructose corn syrup. Also stay way away from flours and processed grains.”
Q: How much water should I drink every day?
Dr. Michels: “Start every day with an 8 ounce glass of water to re-hydrate. You should drink half your body weight in ounces per day. We often confuse thirst for hunger. Before running to food, drink an 8 ounce glass of water and see how you feel.”
Q: What kinds of goals should I set for myself?
Dr. Michels: “Start small and set easily attainable goals. Build off of the momentum of success. Write your goals down and put them somewhere you can see them daily. Once you have accomplished a goal, set a new one. Remember, show yourself grace. If you fail, pick yourself up and start again.”
Q: I hear people talk about “cheat days” – what are those? Are they OK?
Dr. Michels: “Allow yourself to experience the joy of accomplishing a goal. All yourself to have “cheat days” where you can enjoy something that may not be the best for you (i.e. birthday cake at a party, pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.) Live by the 80-20 principal – 80% of the time eat healthy, 20% of the time eat what you want.”
Q: How can I stay focused on healthy living?
Dr. Michels: “Create a vision board: if you can see it, you can be it. A picture is worth a thousand words. Change the ‘way’ of thinking about diet and exercise – it’s not punishment, it’s reward. Think of how much better you are going to feel, look and be. By committing to a healthy lifestyle, it will enable you to finally start living. Have a “can-do” attitude. Consider healthspan vs. lifespan. It’s not the length of your life, but the quality of your life that matter.”