Living healthy 2013: More exercise, sleep, other tips to maintain healthy habits


The extra 10 pounds Alan O'hara carried around really weighed on him. He had headaches, migraines, stress and insomnia. The busy school principal needed to be at the top of his game, so his doctor prescribed eating better and exercising more. Like many other Americans, he made excuses.

"I'm too busy, I'm not feeling well enough, I'll do it tomorrow," O'hara said.

Kaiser family medicine expert Dr. Angeline Ong-Su says we all fall into this funk. Good intentions are not enough, so she offers seven sure-fire steps to accomplishing big health goals.

Your first focus is to rethink your drink. Instead of coffee, try green tea. Instead of sugary soda, have some water. Doing just these can save up to 500 calories per day.

Next, plan out your plate. Half should be veggies and one quarter should be protein. The rest should be whole grains. Keep a food diary.

The third tip is to get 30 minutes of exercise per day. Can't fit it in your schedule? Ong-Su works full time and has twin daughters. She finds time to train for triathlons. Her advice is to break up your exercise time.

"It can be 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes during your break, 10 minutes after work," she said.

Regular exercise will help with tip No. 4: getting seven to eight hours of sleep at night.

Tip No. 5 is to relieve stress a little every day.

Next, if you smoke, it's time to quit.

Finally, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It helps organize your time.

Ong-Su said it's all a balance. As long as it becomes part of our daily routine, you don't think about it, you just do it.

That advice worked for O'hara. He lost the 10 pounds, runs 10ks and finishes first.

"The secret is to push yourself to get out there," he said. "The times you really don't want to go is the best time to go because that's when you really need it."

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