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By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

Every January many of us sit down and make commitments to ourselves and to each other about how we will better ourselves in the coming year. And year after year, many of these resolutions concern our weight and our overall health. But what do we need to do in order not only to make a real, positive change in our lives but also to stick to these resolutions? Here are some of my tried and tested tips.

One of the first steps in ensuring that you are at your healthiest is to make sure to get the vitamins that you need. If you are not already doing so, make a multi-vitamin part of your daily routine. I recommend Centrum, One-A-Day, Multibionta or one of the Vitabiotics products (Wellwoman and Wellman). Children can benefit, too, with child-friendly brands such as Flintstones, Yummi Bears, Wellkid or Rainbow Light. Making sure you get your vital vitamins will reduce your chances of sickness and can improve your energy levels.

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Make a multi-vitamin part of your daily routine to supplement any nutritional deficiencies in your diet.

Another simple fix for your health and weight is to take stock of how much you are eating. What many people are guilty of, knowingly or not, is overindulging in their portion sizes. It is generally recommended that your plate should contain a mix of proteins, starch and vegetables. You should aim to make sure that your plate has an assortment of colours: get greens in your salad, orange and red in your carrots and beets and white meat on your plate, for instance. Your protein portion should be about the size of a deck of cards.

It is important to not only set goals for yourself, but to set realistic and perceivable ones: for instance, losing one to two pounds a week or reducing your cholesterol a certain number of points each month. This will give you something achievable and satisfying to work toward.

These small goals can also be more effective than bigger, more vague ones. Instead of pledging to drop three dress sizes in a year, promise yourself that you will exercise at least four times per week, or that you will have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

You can make small but significant changes to your everyday routine that will pay dividends over time. Some suggestions:

  • Take the stairs rather than elevator whenever you can.
  • Walking short distances rather than taking the car.
  • Take healthy snacks to work with you and do not tempt yourself with unhealthy snacks by simply not buying them.
  • Include at least one piece of fruit or vegetable with every meal.
  • Drink water in place of sugary sodas.

Rule out absolutes: telling yourself that you will give up all unhealthy indulgences will only make you miserable in the short term and lead to failure in the long term. Allow yourself a ‘treat’ once a week, whether it be your favourite fish sandwich or a slice of chocolate cake. And remember, it’s much easier to exercise self-restraint if your favourite unhealthy snacks are not within reach: avoid having them in your cupboards or fridge.

One trick that you might find helpful is that if you feel an intense craving for something, make yourself wait for twenty minutes. You will be surprised how often the craving passes. If your sweet tooth absolutely won’t be denied, try a few squares of dark chocolate instead of more processed candy. Herbal and fruit teas can also help for when you need a little sweetness.

It is important whenever you make a lifestyle change to do so gradually: don’t starve yourself, don’t exhaust yourself. Remember that being your best self-means allowing yourself some happiness and enjoyment in life’s small pleasures.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.