By Alison Stanton
When Tracy Garrett thinks of the word vitality, she pictures people who are active and full of vim and vigor.
The registered dietitian nutritionist and diabetes program coordinator from the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing also defines vitality as the state of “being strong and of having energy.”
But what if you don’t have much get-up-and-go? Rhonda Zonoozi, an exercise physiologist and health coach from the center, has solutions.
“Adopting some healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating, being active, maintaining a healthy body weight, moderate alcohol use if at all and smoking cessation can all help improve one’s vitality,” says Rhonda.
According to a recent study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, adults who maintain healthy habits not only have more vitality, they may add more than a decade to their life expectancy.
When people come to Tracy seeking more vitality, she has them examine their current nutritional routine.
“I always ask my clients to fill out a food log; this provides a baseline for evaluation and sets the stage for developing individual recommendations,” she says. Those recommendations often center around eating more nutrient-dense, brightly colored plant-based foods and high-quality protein sources.
“Food is fuel for our body, including our brain, and poor quality or inadequate nutrients can produce fatigue, lack of motivation and even a lower mood state. This does not align with vitality.”
As Rhonda notes, making just one small improvement in a person’s daily habits can lead to other healthy changes. This phenomenon is called “the domino effect,” she adds.
“A group of researchers at Northwestern University studied a group of people who lowered their amount of sedentary and leisure time. What they also did, without being told, was to reduce their daily fat intake,” Rhonda says.
In January, Tracy and Barbara Mason, executive director of the Sun Health At Home, will teach classes related to vitality.
In the “Self-Esteem & Vitality” class, Barbara will discuss ways to maintain dignity and increase vitality as we age.
Tracy will present “Eating for Health & Vitality,” in which she will discuss some evidenced-based eating styles that can prevent, delay or manage a chronic disease.
Unlike other New Year’s resolutions that may be forgotten by the end of the month, improving vitality is a goal one can work on all year long in small increments.
“There are interventions that everyone can adopt, one bite at a time, that can lead them down the path to increased vitality and quality of life,” Tracy says.
Pictured: La Loma Village residents Ernie (L) and Marty Lenthal improve their vitality through exercise in La Loma’s fitness center.
Vitality Classes this Month
Self-Esteem & Vitality: Give Yourself a Boost
Friday, Jan. 11, 9:30 to 11 a.m., at The Colonnade
Presenter: Barbara Mason, CADC
Eating for Health & Vitality
Thursday, Jan. 17, 9:30 to 11 a.m., at PORA
Presenter: Tracy Garrett, Registered Dietitian
Registration is required.