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Massage Today
January, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 01

A New Year, A New Beginning, A New You

By Teresa M. Matthews, LMT, CPT

In this season of celebration, a new year begins. To keep the celebration going and improve our overall health and increase our energy, good nutritional choices and a commitment to a more active lifestyle are key.

It's all about choices, after all. Last month, we talked about self-care resolutions. Now we get to put them into action. It's easy and fun to do.

First, use up at least as many calories as you take in. For food choices, start by knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. For simplicity, multiply your weight by 10; that's approximately how many calories you should take in per day. If you have a lot of physical activity in your day, you can multiply your weight by 11. An easy goal would be to eat fewer calories than you know you can burn up every day. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. Another attainable goal: at least 30 minutes every day. Regular physical activity will help you maintain your weight, keep off the weight that you've already lost and help you reach toward physical and cardiovascular fitness. If you can't do at least 30 minutes at one time, don't stress. You can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day.


At the beginning of our sessions with our clients, we do an assessment. So, let's do a self-assessment: In the last 24 hours, how many servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and red meat have you eaten? A serving of fruit or vegetables is half a cup (the size of your fist). A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. A serving of whole grain is one piece of whole-grain bread or a cup of whole-grain cereal. How many servings of each did you take in the last 24 hours? Do the last 24 hours represent approximately the way you eat every day? Taking control of food input and activity output are the healthiest choices you will make for yourself. Here are a few quick food tips.

Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the full nutrition it needs to maintain vibrant health. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other compounds but remain low in calories. Choose from a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. 'Living food' (plant-based) can help you control your weight and your blood pressure. Unrefined, whole-grain, fiber-rich foods can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may assist you in managing your weight. For protein, add fish at least twice a week. Research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout, and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.

You could use your daily allotment of calories for a few high-calorie foods and beverages, but you probably wouldn't get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. An occasional splurge as a reward for reaching a goal is OK. However, limits on how much saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium in your daily choices will get you the results you seek. Read labels on packaged foods carefully. The nutrition facts panel will tell you how much of which nutrients each food or beverage may contain.

It might be helpful to choose lean meats and prepare poultry without skin and added saturated and trans fat. Cut back on prepared foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Keep an eye on your portion sizes.

Now that you know the secrets to feeding the body with proper nutrition and are physically activity for 30 minutes per day, you can make the lifestyle changes you seek. You control your choices to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Teresa M. Matthews, fitness expert and world champion athlete, has 30 years experience in the fitness industry. She is the president and founder of Health, Wellness & Fitness Professionals, Inc. and is the owner of Arlington School of Massage and Personal Training in Jacksonville, Fla. She is a sports massage instructor for the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and was awarded the FSMTA 2009 Sports Massage Therapist of the Year award. Teresa travels the country teaching self care and wellness classes. Contact her by e-mail at with questions or comments.


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