OAKLAND, Calif. — For many people, the start of the New Year is an opportunity to make lifestyle changes for better health. It is important to remember that big changes begin with small steps.
Ravida Benjamin, RN, was an overweight, insulin-dependent diabetic for most of her life when she decided to take control of her health. Through her work as a nurse with Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii, she had seen first-hand the health complications that can affect diabetic patients.
“I thought, ‘for my family, I’d like to get healthy,’” she said.
Ravida started small, first by adding fruits and vegetables into her diet. Eventually, she began walking every day. As she began losing weight and noticing positive changes in her body, she became more motivated to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Ravida used programs offered by Kaiser Permanente to find healthy meal ideas, learn the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and find encouragement from others sharing her journey.
Over time, Ravida lost more than 60 pounds, and no longer has to take insulin shots to keep her diabetes in check.
“Go for a short walk and build,” encouraged Ravida. “I’ve gone from walking 30 minutes a day to 120 minutes uphill when I have a day off.”
Acknowledging that getting healthy is a challenge, she suggests, “Start small, don’t get discouraged. You might slip, but that’s OK!”
Even with small lifestyle changes, it can be hard to know where to start. Jack Der-Sarkissian, MD, a family medicine doctor with Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles offers five tips for getting and staying healthy:
- Eat breakfast. Start the day with a big nutritious breakfast, eat a good-sized lunch, and have something small for dinner. Avoid soda and fruit juice, which contain lots of calories that don’t benefit your body.
- Walk. Starting a new exercise regimen can be a tough, especially for those of us who sit all day at work. In the beginning, just try to move. Walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week benefits our bodies mentally and physically.
- Take sleep seriously. The average person only sleeps six hours per night, while research shows our bodies need seven to eight hours to function properly. Lacking sleep affects our minds and our bodies.
- Cut out cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Even using these substances every now and then has negative effects on our health.
- Nurture your healthy relationships. Keeping our minds stimulated and happy by being social with our friends, family, and colleagues also has physical health benefits.
Launched in July 2011, Care Stories is a collection of first-person video narratives from Kaiser Permanente members talking about their own care in their own words, unscripted and uncompensated.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 9.1 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.