Actress Tisha Campbell-Martin: Challenge Yourself to Better Health!

The TV star doesn’t let a family history of diabetes bring her down.

Bonnie Siegler with Stephanie Guzowski

Why it works: Exercise has been shown to improve your body’s use of insulin, lower blood pressure, raise good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). As Tisha acknowledges, “It might sound a little extreme, my working out twice a day.” But you can still reap the benefits with less. The ADA recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise a day most days of the week, which could be split into 10-minute bursts.

2. Focusing on nutrition.
In the past, Tisha focused mainly on her calorie intake. Today, she realizes it’s also important to ensure the foods she eats are nutritious. She eats five to six smaller meals a day, starting with breakfast. “I always keep low-fat, sugar-free snacks, such as carrots, nuts and dried cranberries, nearby to munch on.” Yogurt’s also a healthy, on-the-go snack, suggests Tisha. “I freeze yogurt and then let it thaw in my bag.” 

Why it works: Eating breakfast can reduce your hunger later in the day, making it easier to avoid overeating. In a study in Obesity of nearly 3,000 people, those who ate breakfast maintained a 30-pound (or more) weight loss for at least a year, and some for as long as six years. And grazing on healthy foods, like Tisha does, has its benefits, too: A study in the British Medical Journal found that folks who eat six meals a day have 5% lower total cholesterol levels than those who eat just two a day.

3. Drinking plenty.
Tisha’s a huge advocate of drinking lots of fluids. In addition to two cups of green tea each morning, Tisha keeps a large container of water on hand—and she gets plenty creative with it. “I call it Tishagrino, like Pellegrino, but different flavors that I’ve invented—so there’s a water theme for every day and I don’t become bored,” says Tisha. “One day it’ll be fresh mint, cucumber and rosemary, and I’ll pretend I’m at a spa. The next, I’ll mix in sliced oranges and lemons, or a combo of fresh strawberries and watermelon.“

Why it works: Staying hydrated means a better workout. That’s because muscles need fluid to contract properly, which equates to fewer aches and pains. Drink at least 8 ounces 20 minutes before doing cardiovascular exercise and another 8 ounces afterward, recommends the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). And in people with diabetes, hydration plays an important role by helping to flush blood sugar from the system. 

April 2013