It was a good question, from my six-year-old, who stumbled
across the corporate I.D. card in my wallet the other day. The picture was taken
in 2003, right after I started at Men’s Health. My daughter was asking the question not
because I looked 8 years younger, but because I looked 20 pounds heavier.
“It’s me, sweetie,” I said.
She looked at the picture inquisitively. “What’s different?”
That too was a good question, especially in the figurative
sense. The 2011 version of me isn’t all that different from the unrecognizable
guy on the I.D. card. In short:
contacts instead of glasses.
don’t put sugar in my coffee.
don’t drink soda very often.
exercise about an hour a week.
That’s pretty much it. Small changes, big results. It’s my
mantra. And it should be yours, too. Fact is, it's hard to make big
changes in life. That's why so many of us struggle with our weight and health. The problem isn't knowing what to do; it's doing it. So forget grand,
life-changing goals and start small instead.
Aim to drink the leftover milk in your cereal bowl each
morning to get more vitamins, or hold your fork in your non-dominant hand to
slow your eating, or "forget" your glasses the next time you're at the
gym so you won't get distracted. Little tips like these can make a big
difference over time.
To that end, here are 14 more small changes you can make today
that will make you fitter, healthier, and happier tomorrow.
1. Make a Rainbow on Your Plate A 14-year study found that men whose diets were highest in
fruits and vegetables had a 70 percent lower risk of digestive-tract cancers.
How to reach your quota: Never eat a meal that doesn't contain a vegetable or
fruit. And no, potato chips don't count.
2. Dry-Brush Your Teeth Do it before you brush with toothpaste and water and you'll cut tartar by 60 percent, and reduce the risk of
bleeding gums by half. Use a dry, soft brush to scrub the insides of your top
and bottom teeth, then buff the outer surfaces. Rinse, spit, and then brush
with toothpaste. And avoid the 12 Foods Your Dentist Would Never Eat.
3. Lose Weight by Eating More A survey of more than 2,000 people who lost an average of 67
pounds and kept the weight off for more than 5 years found that 78 percent ate
breakfast 7 days a week.
4. Embrace an Italian Diet, that is. Two to four servings of tomato sauce a week
can cut your prostate-cancer risk by 34 percent.
5. Drink Away Your Diabetes Risk In a 9-year French study, people who regularly consumed
17 to 34 ounces of water daily were 36 percent less likely to develop high
blood sugar or diabetes than those who imbibed less. Why? When you’re
dehydrated, your brain turns up production of vasopressin, a hormone that
signals your liver to pump out more glucose.
6. Coach Your Kid's Soccer Team Men who do volunteer work at least once a week have half the
death rate of those who don't.
7. Beat Back Pain the Easier Way Researchers in Finland found that men who lack lower-back
muscular endurance—in other words, their back muscles tire quickly—are 3.4 times
more likely to develop back pain. Build your endurance with this 7-minute
8. Always Order the Thin-Crust Pizza It has a third fewer calories than thick-crust pizza. Blot the
cheese with a napkin to cut more fat, and you'll be able to enjoy your pie guilt-free.
9. Go Fishing Once a Week Eating just one serving of fish per week can cut your risk of a
sudden fatal heart attack by half! The secret ingredient in fish is omega-3 fatty
acids. Salmon is especially high in them. If you don't like fish, pop a daily fish-oil supplement that contains at least 500 mg of both DHA and EPA.
10. Invest in Your Marriage An unhappy marriage increases your chance of getting sick by 35
percent and shortens your life expectancy by 4 years.
11. Exercise Depression Away Exercising for 40 minutes can reduce stress. In fact,
studies show that working out on a regular basis can be as effective as taking
antidepressants like Prozac.
12. Eat Two Bananas a Day The potassium they contain can lower blood pressure by 10 percent in as little as a week, according to researchers in India. How? The average American consumes 1,000 mg more sodium than our bodies need each day, raising our blood pressure and our risk of heart attack and stroke. Potassium neutralizes sodium. While you're at it, banish The 25 Saltiest Foods in America from your diet.
13. Snack on Cherries Before Bed Cherries and cherry juice are concentrated sources of
melatonin, a popular over-the-counter sleep aid.
14. Take Vitamin E and Aspirin Daily Researchers have found that this
antioxidant-and-blood-thinner combination can reduce arterial plaque by 80
percent. The benefit of the duo is so great that it may
help men prevent atherosclerosis even if they can't lower their cholesterol