When we think about what it takes to lose weight and fight obesity, most people tend to focus on diet and exercise. Eating right and exercising are essential components for weight loss, but you will only get the results you’re looking for when you focus on overall wellness too. When you make wellness-focused actions part of your daily routine, you feel better, your body is healthier, and you see better results from your weight loss efforts.

Focus on what and how you eat

The best way to approach eating right for weight loss is to think of nutrition holistically. Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, focus on how eating wholesome food gives your body the nourishment you need to be healthy and lose weight. Limiting calories and foods high in unhealthy saturated fats is part of a diet for weight loss, but paying attention to eating whole foods rather than highly processed options is just as important. How you eat plays a key role in battling obesity too. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends several strategies that help prevent overeating, such as eating breakfast, eating slowly, and preparing healthy meals at home rather than eating out (where portions tend to be larger and less nutritious).

Make workouts fun

You know that regular exercise is essential for weight loss, but even the best of intentions are no match for a boring workout routine. It’s much easier to commit to exercising when you find something you truly enjoy. If you feel like you’re in a rut with going to the gym, think outside the box, and maybe also outdoors. If you’re a dog lover, try enlisting your pup to help with your fitness goals. Whether it’s hiking, running, dog yoga (doga) or agility training, exercising along with your pooch benefits you both. According to Pet Health Network, exercising with your dog keeps you both healthier, it’s excellent socialization for your dog to get out and see the world, and you will both enjoy the connection you make from exercising together. Just be sure to keep your dog’s safety in mind, especially if you choose a higher intensity exercise like running.

Mind your mind

Even when you’re doing all of the right things with diet and exercise, if you have underlying depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns, letting these go untreated will hold you back. Any of these mental health issues can lead to overeating, which makes you feel bad about yourself and perpetuates poor mental health in a vicious cycle. To help break this cycle, The American Psychological Association recommends thinking about what you eat and why. When you track your eating habits and your thoughts, you can take a step back and see if you have made food choices related to something upsetting happening. Along with tracking food choices and treating concerns like depression, integrate daily activities like journaling, art, or meditation into your life to improve your mental and emotional well-being.

Make sleep a priority

Getting plenty of rest is essential to your overall well-being, but many people think of sleep as more of a luxury than a necessity. When you prioritize getting enough sleep, you’re not only boosting your overall health, but also your weight loss goals. Lack of sleep has been linked to overeating and making poor food choices, along with physiological effects on fat cells. Not getting enough rest also makes it harder to motivate yourself to stick to a fitness routine. Realizing that sleep is not just a luxury and that not getting enough sleep can sabotage the rest of your weight loss efforts should be a crucial part of your holistic approach to battling obesity.

Caring for your mental health and getting plenty of rest are just two examples of how maintaining your overall well-being is just as essential to losing weight as diet and exercise. When you focus on diet and exercise alone, other key parts of your health are getting left out. Work on caring for your whole self to feel better and achieve sustainable weight loss.

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Improving your physical fitness can go hand in hand with your addiction recovery program. Here is how shaping up sets you up for success.

Good for your overall physical health. Adding fitness to your lifestyle has far-reaching body benefits. Exercise can help:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Lower risk of cancer 
  • Reduce your chance of developing diabetes
  • Lower your risk of developing dementia
  • Lower your body weight

Good for your overall mental health. Some studies show that exercise is excellent for boosting your mental health. Being fitter can help in many ways. It may help:

  • Reduce stress
  • Alleviate anxiety
  • Ease symptoms of depression
  • Put you in a better mood
  • Reduce feelings of loneliness 
  • Improve sleep
  • Increase blood flow to your brain for better clarity
  • Enlarge memory capacity
  • Protect your brain against illness and injury
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Improve your ability to learn

Good for your recovery. According to studies cited by Huff Post, exercising can be a boost to your recovery program. When you are recovering from substance abuse, your brain misses the “high” you were getting from drugs. It turns out that exercising can replace that feeling by releasing feel-good chemicals in your brain. Those chemicals alleviate feelings of withdrawal. Exercise also offers a distraction, giving your mind a healthy focalpoint. Similarly, the New York Times explains that some experts believe exercise can make you feel better overall and cause you to crave drugs less frequently.

Choosing a great fitness plan. When deciding what kind of exercise will benefit you most, you should consider options that promote your overall well-being and improve your health for the long term. Incorporating alternative coping methods can be very useful in your recovery program and help avoid relapse. Here are some options:

Meditation. Meditation is recognized by many experts as a terrific tool in your addiction recovery program. Studies suggest that developing your skills in meditation helps you both mentally and physically. Meditation helps you to:

  • Increase self-control
  • Reduce symptoms of withdrawal
  • Develop coping skills
  • Reduce stress
  • Become more self-aware, which helps you avoid triggers
  • Reduce cravings
  • Lower depression
  • Improve physical well-being

Yoga. According to authorities cited by Social Work Today, yoga is an excellent option for your recovery program. It’s a tool you can use almost anywhere and at any time. It’s also good for you both physically and mentally.

Yoga helps you to:

  • Develop self-discipline
  • Curb impulses
  • Feel empowered
  • Develop real-world coping tools
  • Improve stamina
  • Increase flexibility
  • Improve immunity
  • Improve overall emotional well-being

Have you thought about involving Fido in your workout routine? “Doga” is yoga for you and your dog. Some experts suggest partnering up with your furry friend for added benefits. As Dog’s Best Life points out, “Yoga often involves an intense mind-body awareness expressed through breathing techniques and meditative exercises. … Doga can be a way to deepen the emotional bond between pet and owner while at the same time accomplishing goals involving flexibility or rehabilitation for one or both.”

Swimming. Some experts feel swimming can be a big benefit to addiction recovery, helping both your mental and physical health. While any exercise has certain physical benefits, it appears swimming may be especially good for you. Swimming helps to:

  • Lower your stress level
  • Put you in a better mood
  • Sleep better
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Reduce depression
  • Enhance your self-worth
  • Feel more satisfied with your life
  • Improve your aerobic health

Shaping up. Exercise is a great tool in your recovery program. Not only is working out good for your overall physical health, it’s beneficial to your overall mental health and helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Consider an alternative method to develop your coping skills. Shaping up during your recovery sets you up for success.

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You’ve probably heard the saying, “Get a hobby.” While the original intent was to serve as an insult, it’s actually good advice. Making time for a hobby can reduce stress, improve mood, provide opportunities for socializing, challenge your brain, and more. From painting to gardening to sports, there are many hobbies from which to choose, and they all provide a plethora of health benefits.

Free your mind and spark creativity

When you focus on a hobby, you clear your mind. While a difficult project makes you concentrate deeply so that your mind can’t think of anything else, a simple project gives your mind the freedom to roam. Both of these situations are referred to as a flow state or being “in the zone.” It’s a situation that is similar to meditation, where action and awareness are merged so that the outside world is shut out. If you’ve ever looked up from a task and been shocked by how much time has passed, then you’ve experienced flow.

Focusing your mind on something you enjoy – also known as being intrinsically motivated, which means to do something for the pure joy of it – is more likely to spark creativity. For example, if you’re having trouble finding a solution to a problem at work, working on a hobby, such as songwriting or playing music, could allow your mind to relax and become intrinsically motivated, which could allow the answer to come to you.

To enjoy the benefits of hobbies, you need to practice focusing on one task at a time. If painting is your favorite hobby, try to just paint. When you add in listening to the radio and checking your phone, you’re not giving your mind the chance to take a break and get into flow. You should set aside time so that you can lose yourself in a task.

Relieve stress and boost confidence

Zoning out while being in the flow is a great way to relieve stress. Distraction is key. From work to socializing to your family, your brain becomes overwhelmed with life, and it needs a break from time to time. If you’re using your brain’s capacity to work on your hobby, then it has less capacity to focus on issues, such as work stress or relationship problems.

A hobby can also boost your confidence. When you accomplish something, whether it’s growing tomatoes or repainting your bedroom, you gain confidence, and it gives you motivation to try a more complicated task or a new hobby. Just remember to not go overboard or overestimate your skills – not only can taking on a project you’re not ready for make you feel overwhelmed, essentially negating the benefits of having a hobby, it can be downright dangerous. For example, if DIY home repair or carpentry is your passion, start out with several small, basic projects before moving on to those that involve an assortment of power tools (and put safety first when you do).

Finally, hobbies can provide an opportunity for social interaction, which is important for mental and physical health. There are hobby-focused groups for everyone. From book clubs to art classes to club sports, there’s bound to be a group devoted to your hobby. 

A selection of hobbies

A study found that making time for creative hobbies can boost emotional well-being and promote mental health. While the study didn’t specifically ask participants to list their favorite creative activities, the information was informally collected. The most common creative activities included songwriting, creative writing, knitting, crocheting, cooking new recipes, painting, drawing, sketching, graphic and digital design, and musical performance. Immersing yourself in a musical hobby offers a bevy of benefits, and can help you get your creative and critical-thinking juices flowing all while giving you a unique outlet for self-expression, so it’s an especially wonderful pastime to become passionate about.

Don’t wait until you find more time for a hobby. You probably have more free time than you realize. Whether you start something you’ve always wanted to try or you get back into something you’ve always enjoyed, make time to do what you love – and enjoy all of the benefits of your pursuit.

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When a senior loses a partner or spouse, it’s a huge life change that can lead to depression and behavioral changes. It can be difficult to know how to move on, and for some, the grieving process can take months or even years. It’s important not to push your loved one toward “getting over” the death of their spouse, but rather let them move at their own pace. The grief that comes after the loss of a loved one can manifest itself in many different ways and can affect a senior’s ability to take care of themselves, which, in turn, can lead to health issues. 

Know how to help

It can be hard to know where to begin when you want to help a grieving loved one, but one great way to start is by listening. Rather than saying things like, “It’s for the best” or “It will all be okay” — which can minimize your loved one’s feelings — let them talk about what’s on their mind. Tell them you know how hard this time is for them and that you’re there to help with whatever they need. 

If your loved one will be living alone after losing their spouse, offer to come over and help with dishes, laundry, cooking, or cleaning. Mow the lawn, do the grocery shopping, or teach them how to practice better self-care. Every little bit of help you give will show your loved one how much you care, which will also help them as they navigate the path to healing.

Get them moving

Daily exercise is extremely important when battling depression, and for seniors at a certain age, it’s even more important to get up and get moving. Help your loved one get in a workout every day by offering to go for walks or by helping them get involved with an exercise group that meets a few times a week. 

Get an animal

Pets can be wonderful companions for seniors, and they can also help with the grieving process. In fact, spending time with an animal can reduce blood pressure and anxiety, which is why they are used as a treatment for various disorders. Talk to your loved one about getting a pet and do some research on all the ways they can be beneficial. 

Get social

Helping your loved one be more social — or reignite their social life completely — is a big part of healing after the loss of a loved one. Some of the best ways a senior can do this are by getting a part-time job, going to church, joining a club or sport, or meeting friends for coffee or lunch once a week. Even getting out of the house can be a big deal for someone who is coping with a loss, so try to be patient if your loved one pushes back at first. 

Remember that the grieving process can take a long time, especially for someone who lost a partner they spent decades with. Grief has no expiration date, so let your loved one know that you’re there for support whenever they need it.

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