New year, new you! Time to get healthy

By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

It’s that time of year again when we all make New Year’s Resolutions and slowly forget about them as the year goes on. And while a popular resolution is “getting healthy,” it’s just too….well, boring.

Now that we are in a new decade, it’s time to get serious about breaking those unhealthy habits you’ve been talking about for years so you can keep livin’ it up on the weekends!

Healthy is sexy, and we are so here for it! Let us help set you up for success with these goals.

Replace a dessert with fruit one or two times a week

Ah, nature’s candy! Replacing one or two desserts a week with some fresh fruit will never replace your sweet tooth — we know, nothing beats chocolate —  but it will help you slowly break that sugar addiction. A simple bowl of fresh-cut strawberries or blueberries (even if you put a pinch of sugar on them) is super yummy and doesn’t pack in all the calories.

Eat those veggies

People who live with HIV may face issues that can affect their nutrition, so it’s important to sneak those veggies in as much as possible. They may not be your first thought when cooking, but they should be on your plate every day. Don’t like plain broccoli? Add a little bit of shredded cheese on top. Boom. Yummy. Veggies are loaded with so many nutrients and fiber to help you stay healthy and energized.

Other benefits include:

  •     Giving your body energy needed to fight HIV and other infections
  •     Keeping you full longer
  •     Helping with overall digestion of food and medication


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Move that amazing body of yours

Exercise doesn’t have to be a daunting task and going to a gym can be intimidating (unless that’s where you thrive, then you go, girl!). In fact, there are so many YouTube videos, video games, or just dancing in your living room with friends to the latest Lizzo song (twerk like no one's watching!) that are super fun and make you forget you’re even working out. When you find something that you enjoy, it’s easier to stick to a regular routine. Exercise not only increases your strength, but it also helps your immune system work better to fight off infection. Here are some other ways to move your body more:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Pick up a cheap fitness tracker to keep you accountable with steps – try for 10,000 steps every day.
  • Walk around every hour.
  • Take a walk or jog with a friend once a week.

Start slow and go from there.

It’s time to quit smoking or vaping finally

Fact: Roughly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. smoke. Adults who live with HIV are 2 to 3 times more likely to smoke

Raise your hand if you’re a social smoker like us! When you’re bustin’ a move on the dance floor and need some fresh air, it’s so easy to grab a quick smoke. The chance of developing a life-threatening illness is higher for those who live with HIV that smoke or vape.

Not only does it increase your risk of cancer, asthma, heart disease, and other serious illnesses, but the smell can linger, and cigarettes can discolor your teeth. And let's be honest, you need your pearly whites for the next time you flash a smile in the club!

Get After It, Girl!

When you tackle health-related goals, it makes you feel sexy and more in charge of your future. It doesn’t have to be Monday for you to start. So, grab a sheet of paper, write them down, track as you go, and watch yourself slay the new year away!


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