Monthly Health Message:

Tips for a Healthier Lifestyle

March 2009

Karen Ensle Ed.D., RD, FADA, CFCS
Family and Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

Did you know that small changes in your daily routine can mean prevention of major illnesses in the future? What you choose to eat is one of the most important aspects of managing your lifestyle to stay healthy. Because you feel fine today, doesn't mean you will feel the same way tomorrow. Don't fight against eating healthy foods and good nutritional practices. Instead, find tips and ideas to make healthful eating part of your busy lifestyle.

Making the Decision to Lose Weight
Finding the motivation to lose weight can be difficult, especially if you have tried lots of diets and gained and lost many pounds. Losing weight permanently involves changing your eating habits and increasing physical activity, which is not easy to do in today's hectic world. Taking the time to think about how ready you are to make these changes is critical for success. To make a change means making a personal commitment that you will eat and exercise differently than before. You will move more and eat less while choosing small portions. This will allow you to create a new routine and continue that routine for six months so it becomes a habit.

Where Will You Find Motivation?
Are you willing to make changes in eating and activity habits? Are you willing to be physically active 60-90 minutes each day? Do the benefits of weight loss coincide with the costs? Research tells us that being overweight may cause serious health problems as well as affect our lifestyle. Being overweight may prevent you from doing the things you want to do and can strip you of the energy to be an active person. It can also crush positive feelings about yourself. Losing weight will help you to look and feel better and increase your energy level so you can do the things you enjoy.

Now is the Time to Take Action
Once you are ready to make the commitment to lose weight, you are ready to take action to adjust eating and fitness habits to reflect your new goals. You are likely to succeed if you develop a plan and set realistic objectives. Your goals for weight loss need to be specific and attainable. This means they must describe what you plan to achieve and be within your reach to accomplish. For example, a goal of "walking more" is a great idea but is not specific enough. A goal of walking three miles a day, or approximately 5,800 steps, is specific and attainable.

How Will You Reward Yourself?
Putting money aside for a vacation or a new household item is a good way to keep yourself motivated. Rewards need to be meaningful and realistic and not include food. They need to reward you for each step you take toward better health. For example, reward yourself after sticking to meal and exercise goals by buying a new music CD or going to the movies. Rewards will keep you motivated toward achieving those small steps to good health. Remember, it takes commitment and one small step each day to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences