7 healthy habits that are vital to health/weight loss

Dr. Lester Breslow, a renowned public health expert, died early April at age 97. He studied the effects 7 healthy habits, which he himself practiced, on life expectancy. The study followed people over 20 year intervals and strongly found that “a 45-year-old with at least six of the seven healthy habits Dr. Breslow chose as important had a life expectancy 11 years longer than someone with three or fewer.” Dr. Breslow also “found that a 60-year-old who followed the seven recommended behaviors would be as healthy as a 30-year-old who followed fewer than three.”

So what are the 7 healthy habits? They are as follows (in no particular order of importance – they are all important 🙂 ):

1. Sleep 7-8 hours. Lack of sleep has so many spillover effects outside of obesity and associated health risks, especially for children. I try to maintain a consistent bed time of 10pm.  I wear a sleep mask and ear plugs, and also take melatonin to help with getting that vital 7+ hours of sleep. I suggest setting a strict bed time, and cutting off TV a few hours before the designated time.

2. Exercise regularly, even if it is moderate exercise. Even 30 minutes of leisure exercise a week is enough to get some health benefits.  It is a stress reliever and a great way to kickstart/end your day.  I mainly do weight resistance training, and try to be as active as possible. You can even make exercise more fun with dance classes like bhangra and samba. Let’s Move!

3. Do not smoke. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in America. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is among the long list of health risks associated with smoking.

4. Avoid alcohol, or drink in moderation. Save your liver and health by drinking a couple glasses of wine a week for example. Obesity can cause same liver scarring as alcohol, and both can cause unimaginable liver damage when combined. Moderate or cut off alcohol consumption if possible, and find healthy substitutes like water, green tea etc 🙂

5. Maintain a healthy weight (calculate your BMI here – you want it to be under 25). Try to practice the other 6 habits in order to decrease your BMI. Weigh yourself daily, I weigh myself everyday. It is a good way to track my progress and see what does or does not work for me.

6. Eat regular meals. My meals are very regularized. I have consistent meal times: breakfast at 7am, lunch at 11:30am, and dinner at 5:30. I eat fruit as a snack in between meals. My regular meals: oatmeal for brakfast, and a mix of 1-2lbs of green veggies, sweet potatoes, brown rice, sardines,  salmon, and lots of other protein. Check out the latest newsletter for a detailed eating plan.

7. Eat breakfast. I eat oatmeal (100% oatmeal, not instant) every single day for breakfast. I add cinnamon and cocoa for flavor, dried fruit (cherries most of the time), skim milk, and protein powder as protein satisfies longer. Be careful of yogurt though!

I adhere to all 7 habits and am healthier than I have ever been. Which do you adhere to, and how has this affected your health/weight loss?

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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