The layout of the grocery store and the aisles you walk down will have a great impact on what you purchase. Most grocery stores keep:
- Produce on the perimeter of the store
- Meat, poultry, and fish in the back
- Dairy on the opposite end of produce
The middle aisles can be intimidating as these are often where you will find the processed foods such as chips, snack cakes, breads and frozen or canned meals. They do also contain many staple pantry items such as breads, crackers, nuts, seeds, and baking/cooking products.
The outskirts of the store will hold the freshest foods. The bakery, deli, and if the store has a coffee shop will typically all be located at the front perimeter of the store. The fresh bakery and deli foods of the grocery store even tends to be on the outside area with the produce because it is fresher then pre-packaged baked goods and deli meat.
Specialty products are often placed on the end caps to make shoppers aware of them and increase their sale. These end cap items are often hard to avoid as you still pass by when you stay on the perimeter of the store so it is important to go in with a list and plan.
Use the Food Group Shopping Guide below to help you focus on what to purchase and cook at home! And remember, if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it!
Food Group Shopping Guide
Download the Infographic: USPM-Food-Group-Shopping-Guide-Infographic
Walking is a great way to increase your physical activity and improve your health. It’s an easy way to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle. It’s the most common physical activity for people across the U.S. Walking provides many opportunities to incorporate physical activity into your busy life – whether it’s for work, school, leisure, or to improve your health.
Physical activity such as walking can help control weight and improve health even without weight loss. People who are physically active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.1
We Need More Physical Activity1
- Adults need at least 2 and 1/2 hours (150 minutes) of aerobic physical activity per week . This should be at a moderate level, such as fast-paced walk for no less than 10 minutes at a time. Aerobic physical activity makes you breathe harder and makes your heart and blood vessels healthier. Examples include brisk walking, running, swimming, and other activities.
- According to the CDC, less than half of all adults get the recommended amount of physical activity.
- Women and older adults are not as likely to get the recommended level of weekly physical activity.
- Inactive adults have higher risk for early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.
- Walking routes in and near neighborhoods encourage people to walk to stops for buses, trains, and trolleys.
Should You See a Doctor First?
- Most people do not need to see a doctor before they start a walking program.
- However, you should check with your doctor if you have a chronic health problem such as a heart condition, diabetes, or high blood pressure, are over 40 years old and have been inactive.
- You should also talk to your doctor if while walking, you get dizzy, feel faint or short of breath; or have chest, neck, shoulder or arm pain.2
How to Start Walking More
1. Set realistic goals and how you plan to achieve them. Set realistic goals such as walking 10 to 15 minutes three times a week.
- Create an action plan for how far and how often you will walk.
- Where would you like to be in 6 months to a year in your walking program?
- Plan where you will walk, what days of the week you will walk.
- Identify a walking buddy or support person.
2. Be prepared.
- Make sure you have everything you need to get started such as shoes that fit right and have good arch support; a firm, well-cushioned heel; and nonskid, flexible soles.
- Ensure you have clothes that keep you dry and comfortable, a hat or visor for the sun, sunscreen, and sunglasses; a hat and scarf to cover your head and ears when it’s cold outside, and layers of clothing in cold weather that you can remove as you warm up.
3. Get moving.
- Divide your walk into three parts: warm up by walking slowly; increase your speed to a brisk walk; and cool down by slowing your pace.
- When walking be sure to use proper form: keep your chin up and your shoulders slightly back and relaxed.
- Look forward, not at the ground.
- Keep your back straight, rather than arched forward or backward.
- Let the heel of your foot touch the ground first, and then roll your weight forward.
- Walk with your toes pointed forward.
- Swing your arms naturally.
4. Add on.
- As walking gets easier, start to go faster and farther. Add hills or stairs to make your walks more challenging.
- If you are walking less than three times per week, give yourself more than 2 weeks before adding time to your walk.
How To Make Walking a Healthy Habit
- Don’t give up. Stick with your walking program.
- Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping center. To stay motivated, try different routes to keep it interesting.
- Listen to your favorite music as you walk, remembering to keep the volume low so you can hear sounds around you.
- Bring a friend or a family member. Having a regular walking buddy or support person may help you keep going. You can cheer each other on and serve as role models for friends, family members, coworkers, and your community.
- Have a “Plan B” for when bad weather or other roadblocks get in the way. Be ready to walk indoors rather than outdoors.
- Track your progress on paper, online, with a fitness app, fitness tracker or a pedometer. Record dates, distance, and how you felt when you were done.
- Reward yourself with something pleasant after you walk, like a relaxing shower or a 30 minutes of time to yourself.
- Be prepared for setbacks. If certain obstacles prevent you from walking, get back to your routine as soon as you can.
With time, walking can become part of your daily life and may even make it easier to try other types of physical activity.
20 Ways to Add More Steps
- Find a buddy who can take walks with you.
- Walk your dog in the morning for 15 minutes and in the evening for 10 minutes.
- March in place while brushing your teeth.
- Exercise indoor with a workout DVD.
- Play hide and seek with your kids.
- Have a dance party with your kids.
- Walk your kids to school or the school bus.
- Walk while chatting on the phone.
- Make it a nightly habit to go for an after-dinner stroll with the family.
- If you’re going to the mailbox, take a tour around the house first or a lap around your block.
- During commercials, don’t fast forward your DVR – stand up and march in place or pick things up around the house.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park far from the office.
- Get off the bus/train one stop before or after your regular stop to take extra steps.
- Walk to a coworker’s office instead of calling or emailing them.
- Use the restroom that is one floor up (or down) at work instead of heading for the one closest to your office.
- Use the water or coffee machine one floor up (or down) at work instead of heading for the one closest to your office.
- Set reminders on your phone or calendar to take a walking break.
- Take afternoon “brainstorming” walks.
- Pick up your lunch instead of ordering takeout.
What is Mental Health?
From childhood to adulthood, mental health is a part of your life every step of the way. It includes our psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. The state of our mental health determines how we make decisions, feel and act towards others, and how we cope with the hardships in our lives.1
There are factors that may contribute to an individual’s chance of being exposed to having a mental disorder.
- Biological factors (Genes, brain chemistry)
- Life experiences (Trauma, abuse)
- Family history of mental health problems1,2
Early Warning Signs and Triggers
There are many situations in life that can take us on a rollercoaster of emotions such as divorce in the family or tension within friendships. It is important to not only spot warning signs and triggers in other people, but also in yourself. Below is a list of warning signs that are important to recognize when considering your mental health.
- Finding little or no pleasure in life
- Feeling worthless or helpless for long periods of time (Remember, this is not the same as feeling “blue” or sad for a while)
- Crying a lot
- Experiencing a change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Distancing yourself from people and everyday activities
- Feeling numb like nothing matters
- Arguing and/or fighting with family and friends
- Losing interest in your favorite hobbies
- Wanting to harm yourself or someone else1,2
Myths about mental health1
- Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.
- Fact: People with mental health problems are actually 10 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime.
- Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
- Fact: The best treatment for a mental health illness depends on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals who have mental health issues also work with a support group counselor to help heal and recover.
- Myth: Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.
- Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavior disorders means to address the issue and promote the social and emotional wellbeing of individuals. Some of the benefits of promoting social and emotional wellbeing are:
- Lower health care costs
- Improved family life
- Lower crime rates
- Increased lifespan
- Higher productivity
So How Do We Contribute to Your Mental Health In a Positive Way?
Listed below are activies that you can take to improve your mental health.
- Value yourself. It is not only important to value others, but also to value yourself and see yourself as a VIP of your own life. Take care of your mind by treating yourself with kindness and respect. Make time for yourself by doing your favorite hobbies or taking up a dance class. Try broadening your horizons by traveling or becoming fluent in another language.
- Take care of your body
- Eat nutritious meals
- Avoid cigarettes
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise (Decreases depression and improves mood)
- Get enough sleep
- Surround yourself with supportive people. Make plans with family, friends, or invest in activities that will encourage you to meet new people such as joining clubs. Having a strong supportive network contributes to our mental health.
- Give. Volunteering your time is not only self-fulfilling, but you are also helping others in need. Just think about it, you can help people and make new friends at the same time!
- Learn how to cope with stress in a healthy manner. Coping with stress is very important, considering that stress is a part of life. Do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet, etc. Whether it is good stress, or bad stress, we must learn coping strategies that will help us lead a healthy life.
- Relax your mind. Relaxation exercises such as meditation, mindfulness, and prayer can improve our view on life. Pick one and start practicing today.
- Set realistic goals. Aim high but be realistic. We have all gone through that phase of childhood where everyone under the sun asks, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Now is the time where you should think more about your answer. What do you want to achieve academically? professionally? personally? Write it down on paper and go through the steps you need to do in order to get to your goal. This will lead to an incredible sense of accomplishment, and more importantly, self-worth.
- Be spontaneous. We can sometimes get caught up in the monotony of life. Instead of committing to your daily routine, try something different that will spice things up! Plan a trip to a place you’ve never been, go on a different path when taking a walk, try food that is new to you.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs. For some people, using drugs to “solve” their issues is common. While it will numb you for a little bit, engaging in activities such as excessive drinking and drug use will only intensify your issues, and may even make you feel regretful.
- Get help when you need it. The most important fact that people must remember is that there is treatment. If treated properly, people with a mental illness can fully recover.3
It’s all in the attitude
According to National Alliance in Mental Health (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (43.8 million, or 18.5%) experiences mental illness in a given year.4,5 So why is seeking help still taboo in America? Fear, shame, and embarrassment by family members and peers often influence people to not seek help. Here a few points to remember when in need of help, but reluctant to take action:
- Mental health problems are real and not something you can just “snap out of”
- Gender does not matter, it is OK to ask for help because you CAN get it
- Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness3
- Mental health is just as important as physical health
- You wouldn’t avoid a physical illness, so why ignore mental illness?
- There is hope. People recover and ultimately go on to live healthier lives2
At USPM, there are many health and wellness programs equipped with coaches and nurses that will assist you. If you are interested in having a health coach or nurse case manager help you on your journey to a healthier you, please refer to your Preventive Plan portal.