Healthier Tennessee

As we enter a new year, the main objective of creating our ‘resolutions’ list is simply creating new healthy beginnings. From hitting the gym to eating a healthier diet, the goals we set to kickstart those healthy beginnings can easily slip away from us. This year, take a new approach to your healthy resolutions! Taking small steps towards your resolutions can set the foundation for a healthier and sustainable 2019.

I would like to introduce the readers in our community to a movement we have in Collierville called “Healthier Collierville,” which is part of the Healthier TN Initiative. Healthier TN is striving to encourage Tennesseans to lead healthier lives through major sectors, such as our communities, workplaces, schools, and places of worship. In short, we’ve created a movement of citizens banding together to encourage these outlets to make healthy options available to employees, residents, and students alike. In more than 100 cities across our state, people are making strides towards a better, healthier quality of life, one community at a time – including our hometown of Collierville. This movement is in place to educate our neighborhood citizens with simplistic, free, and effective ways to help become more active, make healthier nutrition choices, quit tobacco, and educate our children against the dangers of smoking and vaping.

BEING MORE ACTIVE: Physical activity will add years to your life! There are simple steps you can
take to start to boost your physical activity level. Just increasing the amount of steps you take per day can help. Take stairs whenever possible and park as far away as possible from the entry of your work, school, grocery store, or wherever it may be. Purchase a pedometer or fitness tracking watch and set daily goals for yourself. Set up “walk” meetings at work with coworkers, or opt for a standing desk. Go for a family walk after dinner. If joining a gym seems intimidating at this point, try at- home workouts. Simple body weight exercises can be done in the privacy of your own home.

HEALTHIER EATING / NUTRITION: A healthy diet can provide numerous health benefits, such as reducing disease and maintaining a healthy weight. Instead of making big changes utilizing fad diets that can be daunting and restrictive, start with basic small changes and go from there. Clean up your diet, eliminate processed and packaged foods, and choose whole grains over refined grains. Add more fruits and vegetables to every meal. Eat your fruit instead of drinking them in high calorie juices. Replace soda or sweet tea with sparkling water and drink more water daily, especially first thing in the morning and before meals. Cook at home more often. Bake or roast meats, poultry, and fish instead of frying. Eat smaller portions and use smaller plates for meals. Try a new healthy recipe once a week (*see the nutritious and simple recipe included for Salsa Verde Chicken & Wild Rice Soup).

QUITTING TOBACCO USE: Reduce the risk of disease and save money too while quitting tobacco! Quitting tobacco won’t happen in a single day; it is a journey. It is altering your habits and behavior. Prepare for the day to quit, and decide how you will start this journey. The FDA has approved skin patches, inhalers, gum, lozenges, and nasal spray to help you quit. There are also drugs, such as Chantix and Zyban, that your healthcare practitioner can inform and prescribe to you. Try behavioral support through either group or individual counseling. Self-help materials are readily available online. You may want to try alternative therapy such as acupuncture or herbal supplements.

The Healthier Tennessee initiative is led by the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to enabling and encouraging Tennesseans to lead healthier lives. Based in Nashville, the Foundation brings together a statewide coalition of employers, health insurers, hospital systems, local governments, school systems, and healthcare-focused foundations and community organizations to affect positive, measurable change. The Foundation is funded through a combination of public and private-sector sources and is guided by a board of directors. A staff of 10 professionals has been assembled to direct the Foundation and implement the Healthier Tennessee initiative, which strives to increase the number of Tennesseans who are physically active for at least 30 minutes five times a week, promote a healthy diet, and reduce the number of people who use tobacco.

All efforts are being made to promote these goals in Collierville. We are speaking with local businesses and encouraging them to get involved and implement healthier workplace wellness programs, while providing the necessary tools and incentives for employees. Workplace wellness programs give employees social support and the proper strategies to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. These programs can reduce elevated health risks, reduce health care costs, improve productivity, decrease absenteeism, improve employee recruitment and retention, and sustain higher employee morale. We also hope to have local worship centers represent this initiative and come up with ways to implement this into their congregation, perhaps, by creating events based on healthy potlucks and more fellowship with active indoor and outdoor activities. This initiative has become an agenda item during the Collierville Chamber of Commerce board meetings and will be promoted through the Chamber of Commerce website, Healthier Collierville’s Facebook page, and community events such as 5K’s, Fun-Runs, and walks. We hope to provide informational talks, grocery store tours, and healthy cooking demos all in the near future. Collierville Schools will be getting involved as well, first by conducting a contest where art students compete to create a new logo to be used to represent Healthier Collierville.

We are still in the beginning phase of developing this program, but as we progress, we’d like to share success stories. We’d love for you to get on board. Start by following Healthier TN on Facebook or Instagram. You can follow Healthier Collierville on Facebook for tips and upcoming community events. Follow my wellness page on Facebook for tips, recipes, and inspiration. Let’s make Collierville, the place we all call home, a HEALTHIER place to live!!

– Lisa Mullin is a certified Holistic Nutritionist, whose passion is to help others eat for optimal health, weight, and wellness. Lisa is a team member of Healthier Collierville, which is part of the Healthier TN Initiative. She resides in Collierville with her husband Rob and 2 teenage boys.