Stephenie Shea Make 2017 Your Healthiest Year Yet Interview
New Year's resolutions are notoriously hard to stick with, but with health and fitness representing one of the highest numbers of resolutions made annually, many of us are consistently swearing to get fit and start the New Year on a healthy note. These simple tips from Discount Drug Stores Pharmacist and National Professional Services Manager, Stephenie Shea, may help make your New Year's resolution to live a healthier lifestyle easier to keep.
Take the wait out of weight loss
If you hope to lose weight in 2017, you're not alone. Weight loss is one of the most common New Year's resolutions but one that many struggle to keep. Exercise and a balanced diet are key, so focus on changes that you can seamlessly integrate into your life such as adding another serve of fruit or veggies to your diet or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
'Losing weight has some wonderful health benefits including an improvement in your glucose tolerance, blood pressure and cholesterol. Simple exercise regimes such as getting off public transport one stop earlier and walking the remaining distance, or going for a 30 minute walk every day with a friend or partner to make it more fun and support you, are easier and more realistic ways to start off. But most importantly, find workouts that you enjoy. There are alternatives to running like yoga, barre, swimming and cycling to help motivate you to work out and shed those pesky kilos," Ms Shea said.
Curb your smoking habit for good
Wanting to start the New Year without a cigarette in your hand is no easy feat, so don't get frustrated if you can't go cold turkey first time round. Start off by writing down the list of reasons you have for quitting as a great reminder during the difficult periods. Make sure you're eating smart to preoccupy your mouth and combat those urges, and drink water to keep hydrated and flush the toxins from your system. Don't underestimate the importance of a support system. Be sure to tell friends and family of your resolution as their support could make a difference in your change.
'Quitting smoking is not an easy habit to kick but it has been shown to dramatically improve health by reducing the risk of a number of diseases and increasing the body's ability to carry oxygen. Nicotine withdrawal means you may find yourself in some discomfort, feeling more tired and susceptible to weight gain. Nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, lozenges and gum can be useful in helping you fight the physical urges of quitting. Discount Drug Stores pharmacists can provide you with professional advice and offer recommendations on products best suited to help you quit," Ms Shea said.
Hone those healthy eating habits
Eating healthy doesn't mean drinking kale smoothies and eating salads all day. If your diet consists of foods you do not enjoy then chances are you won't be able to sustain the diet. Consider setting up a meal plan where you set aside of an hour or two each week to plan your meals, grocery list and do meal prep. An easy way to prep meals for the week is to make a little extra for dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch the next day.
'Reduce your salt intake and include a few simple additions to your diet like increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and opting for nuts and lean fresh meat or fish for protein. Small changes like healthier eating and cutting back on salt can help you manage your blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. If you're worried about your blood pressure, Discount Drug Stores across the country offer free blood pressure checks and can provide a record for you to take to your doctor to help monitor your blood pressure," Ms Shea said.
The importance of beauty sleep
We've all heard about the importance of getting seven to nine hours of quality Zzz's every night, but how many of us actually manage to get a good night's rest? Getting enough sleep is essential for your body to repair and rejuvenate so you wake up with a glowing complexion, brighter eyes and fuller hair in no time, and could save you from reaching for your second (or even third) cup of coffee the next day!
'For a good night's sleep, it's important to turn off the -white noise' and rest – that means turning off phones and tablets, and choosing to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. If you are struggling to switch off or find yourself waking up at all hours of the night, you might want to ask your pharmacist about ways you can improve your sleep health. As life gets busier, we often don't think about the simple but important things we can do to improve our sleep habits," Ms Shea said.
Give H2O a fairer go
Our bodies are dependent on water and drinking enough H2O ensures we are able to transport nutrients, regulate body temperature, flush out toxins and so much more. Not only that, drinking enough water has also proven to increase metabolism, make us feel fuller and quell those hunger pains and help us lose weight.
'Be on the lookout for dehydration warning signs including headaches, fatigue and aching joints. If you find eight glasses of water each day hard to stomach, try adding slices of fruit to keep things fresh and interesting," Ms Shea said.
Interview with Stephenie Shea, Discount Drug Stores National Professional Services Manager and Pharmacist
Question: What are your New Year's Resolutions?
Question: What are your New Year's Resolutions?
Stephenie Shea: One of my New Year's resolutions is probably one that is the most popular – to work on my fitness goals by including more exercise during the week and eating healthier.
I've also wanted to make my life more minimalistic and spend less time on the internet!
Question: How do you hope to stick to these resolutions?
Stephenie Shea: I plan on working on an exercise plan and spending more time in food preparation to stick to my healthy living goals. I'll also try to be more conscious and wise about my spending – considering more of my needs versus my wants, and sticking to a weekly budget. Plus, I'll try not to spend time on my phone before going to bed to minimise my time on the internet – which I know will be a hard one!
Question: What advice do you have for people to stick to their New Year's Resolutions?
Stephenie Shea: I would recommend writing down your resolutions somewhere. When we write down a goal, it gives us a personal confirmation that we should aim for it. Even better, keep your goals physically visible – stick it on your fridge, the wallpaper on your phone, on your bathroom mirror. It'll be a great reminder, especially when busy schedules start to take over.
Question: How can we stick to our healthy lifestyle goals?
Stephenie Shea: I think the best way to stick our healthy lifestyle goals is to start with small steps which turn into everyday habits, as these will be more realistic.
It could mean going out for a 10 minute walk during your lunch break and another 10 minute walk when you get home. Also, increasing your incidental exercise can be an easy way to fit into a busy lifestyle, such as vacuuming the house, walking the dog, or taking the stairs instead of the escalators.
Question: What are your healthy eating tips?
Stephenie Shea: My mantra for healthy eating is in portion control. When I'm preparing meals at home, I will serve them on a smaller plate – visually it looks like I'm eating a full plate of food, which signals to my brain that the portion I've consumed is sufficient.
When I'm eating out, I try to select the entrée-sized meal rather than the full size. Ordering share plates and sharing it with friends is another tip I use regularly – my palate is satisfied with the variety and quite often I eat less than I would if I were to order a standard portion.
When it comes to snacks, my weakness is chocolate. When I have a bar of chocolate, I cut it up into six pieces and only eat three pieces and put the rest away for another day. When it's a block of chocolate, I snap off one row to consume now and put the rest away. If I have the bar or block sitting in front of me, I know I won't have the willpower to stop eating more!
I'd recommend including a few simple additions to your diet like increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and opting for nuts and lean fresh meat or fish for protein. Swapping out healthier options that you enjoy is also a great way to change your eating habits. For example, try frozen yoghurt instead of ice cream, or home made slices made with sweet dates and cacao instead of a sugar-loaded brownie. Also small changes like cutting back on your salt intake can make a big difference to your health and help manage your blood pressure.
Question: Can you talk us through the importance of drinking enough water?
Stephenie Shea: It's important to keep up the water because our bodies lose fluids continually. Dehydration can make us feel lethargic - just a 2% drop in your body's water level can cause physical and mental tiredness. Water helps flush out toxins, energize muscles, keep our skin hydrated, maintain normal bowel function and digestion and aid weight loss by suppressing our appetite. I would recommend try to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. If that's a bit boring, try adding slices of fruit to your water, such as lemon or kiwi to make it more interesting.
Question: And, why is sleep crucial to a healthy lifestyle?
Stephenie Shea: Getting enough sleep is essential for your body to repair and rejuvenate. Sleep helps our brain to perform properly and good sleep has been linked to improved learning. It's also important for our physical health because it's during sleep that our body can repair and heal. Sleep deficiency has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. In order to get a good night's rest, it's important to turn off the -white noise' – that means, turning off phones and tablets before hopping into bed.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you as a Pharmacist?
Stephenie Shea: When I'm working in the store, my main tasks are speaking with customers about their health and how best to manage their medications. It might seem like an obvious thing to take medications every day, but quite often there are challenges which prevent people from being able to do this regularly, such as having trouble opening bottles, remembering to take medicines in the middle of the day when you are out and about and even remembering to get more medicines dispensed from the pharmacy. Each patient is unique, so it's important to me to have meaningful conversations with customers.
When I'm working at head office, my -customers' are the store owners and managers from around the country. I help to develop and provide tools and training for staff, so that they can provide exemplary service to their customers.
We help promote health awareness and better the health and wellbeing of the community. Working at the health clinics that Discount Drug Stores offers – such as diabetes management, hearing tests, sun awareness, and flu vaccinations – ensures I can contribute to the betterment of the community, beyond simply dispensing drugs.
Question: What inspired your career in Pharmacy?
Stephenie Shea: When I was young, I wanted to be a scientist so that I could help find a cure for cancer! As I grew older, I wanted to become a pharmacist because it was a career that offered many pathways for a young woman and it has always been my life vision to help people in the community by providing healthcare.
I have been with Discount Drug Stores for 15 years and share their vision and drive for providing excellent healthcare for the people in our community. I enjoy the day to day interactions with my customers where I get to know them and build a relationship with them.
This drives me to provide them with the best healthcare I can possibly offer as a pharmacist. After all, pharmacy is about more than just filling prescriptions. I am inspired knowing I can make a positive difference in someone's health and wellbeing, whether by giving advice on how to stay compliant to medication, or detecting a possible drug interaction that could have severe consequences.
Interview by Brooke Hunter