It’s not a DIET! Top 5 Tips for Changing Your Lifestyle

By: Shelby Hunke, Registered Dietician

1.Energize your liferunning


Your greatest wealth is your health. Having an attitude for gratitude and focusing on the positive things in life is the resiliency you need for when things get tough. Try writing down a few things you are thankful for in your life, and use those as motivators for improving your health and changing your lifestyle.

Whether you are a mother, father, daughter, son, grandma or grandpa – you are a role model to someone in your life. Be a positive one and show others around you that eating healthy and being physically active is part of life – an energized life!


bike2. Get moving


Physical activity is a key component to a healthy lifestyle. Remember its physical activity, not exercise. You don’t need a gym membership or equipment at home either. Start with a goal of at least 10 minutes of physical activity a day and gradually build up to 150 minutes per week. Brisk walking is an ideal choice for many because it’s relatively easy and can be done almost anywhere!

Benefits of physical activity:

  • It will help you feel and look better by: helping you lose weight and keep it off, improve your self-esteem, help you sleep better and reduce stress and give you more energy.
  • It will improve your physical fitness by: improving muscle tone and reducing body fat, making your joints more flexible, strengthening your heart, lungs and bones.
  • It will improve your health by: lowering your risk of heart disease and some kinds of cancer, raise your HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol), and lower blood pressure.

3. Lose weightfruit


Did you know that only a 7% weight loss will show a drastic improvement in your health? For example, a 200 pound individual would need to lose only 14 pounds to see benefits in their overall health. Recommended safe, healthy and long term weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.

Ways to help you get started on your weight loss goals is to begin making healthy choices. Start by keeping track of everything you eat and drink to see:

-What food you are eating?

-How much you are eating?

-What time of day you are eating?

-What types of beverages you are consuming?

Keeping track of what you are eating and drinking is the first step in learning how to change your behavior and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Some important tips to remember:

  • Don’t skip meals
  • Don’t drink sugary beverages (soda, juice or flavored milk)
  • Don’t binge eat
  • Do eat slowly and enjoy your food
  • Do allow wiggle room for special occasions to splurge (birthdays, etc.) without feeling guilty
  • Do be mindful of what, when and how you are eating

4. Cut your risk for developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart diseasemeasuringtape


Chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease can be prevented or delayed in at risk populations. Granted there are uncontrollable risk factors in these diseases that we cannot prevent, such as our age, race, gender and genetics. But you can control your lifestyle choices (eating habits, physical activity) – which research has shown will drastically cut your risk of these diseases.

Almost 26 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) almost 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes. Prevention is key, so catching those Americans with pre-diabetes and having them change their lifestyle can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

5. Improve problem solving and coping skills


weightsProblem solving is a process. Do not give up when you cannot come up with a solution immediately. Do not give up when your first plan to solve the problem does not work. It often takes many tries to find a solution. Problems are inevitable, but most problems related to eating less and being more active can be solved.

Follow this problem solving process:

-Describe the problem (“I am busy at work, skip lunch then come home and eat a whole box of cookies”)

-Brainstorm your options for solving the problem

-Keep healthy snacks in my office or car

-Don’t buy cookies to have at home

-Keep fresh fruit accessible at home

-Quit my job

-Go for a walk when getting home

-Pick one option to try

-Don’t buy cookies to have at home

-Make a positive action plan to put the chose option into effect

-Instead of buying cookies I will have fresh bananas and apples at home

-When feeling stressed will go for a 10 minute walk to unwind

-Keep a box of healthy granola bars in my car to have a snack on the drive home

Just try it!

icanpreventdiabetesThese lifestyle tips and so many others will be part of our next I CAN Prevent Diabetes class. This 16-session program begins on Tuesday, October 11 and will meet from 5 – 6 p.m. at the TCHC Wadena Clinic. This class that I’ll be teaching is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program. It’s a community-based, lifestyle change program that offers diabetes prevention education and support for people with pre-diabetes and those at a high risk for pre-diabetes. There is no cost to participants. People who’ve done this program have cut their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent!

You can register by calling 218-632-7115, or e-mailing me at


Shelby with her family after she finished the 5K Sunnybrook Stomp!

Shelby with her family after she finished the 5K Sunnybrook Stomp!

About the Author: Shelby Hunke is a Registered Dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in Exercise Science and a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband Paul and two kids, Madison and Jackson. In her spare time she enjoys family time, running with her dog Bela and cooking!

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