A healthier lifestyle means more than what the number reads on the scale. It’s not a fad diet craze or a seasonal challenge to fit into the perfect bikini. It’s a lifestyle, it’s forever! Now don’t let that word “forever” scare you. You can still eat your grandma’s famous pecan pie, but you have to put some work in ahead of time to afford it.
I live a healthy lifestyle in which I balance nutritious foods with a consistent exercise schedule. But I have a huge sweet tooth, actually all my teeth are sweet. I allow myself one or two sweets a week and let myself indulge. Recognize that certain foods are a “sometimes” food. You can have them sometimes, but not all the time.
So where do I begin and how do I make this lifestyle permanent? Here are 5 simple tips listed below to kick start your journey to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Tip #1 : Drink Water
Drinking water is the best way to hydrate. A glass of water offers many benefits; aids digestion, improves physical performance, healthy brain function, boosts metabolism, and helps to keep you full. Water is essential to life, but what I find best is that it keeps you satiated, that feeling of fullness. When our body doesn’t feel full following each meal it’s natural to search for more to fill that empty space. It is easy for our body to confuse signals of hunger and thirst, considering they are cued from the same area of the brain.
So, instead of reaching for more food try drinking a glass of water first. The rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. For a 100 lb person, we will keep it simple,100 lbs -> 100oz /2 = 50 ounces of water per day. Aim to reach your recommened amount each day and feel the difference it makes in your body. Either set aside a measured amount each day or put a reminder in your phone to drink up,
One more positive of drinking water…its calorie free! Unlike soda, sport drinks, and fancy coffees that add a lot of empty calories with no nutritional benefits.
Tip #2 : Try Something New
Take a tiny step out of your comfort zone and try either a new food or activity. Trying new foods can be fun. It’s easy to get so caught up in your weekly grocery list to quickly run in and out of the grocery store. We tend to not even recognize the different fruits and vegetables that each store offers. Make a goal to choose something new with each trip to the grocery store. Spice up your taste buds and give your body a variety to combat boredom of the same foods and to provide you with better nutritious options.
Note: Youtube is a good go to guide to figure out how to prepare different foods. When I first started buying a new food each grocery trip, I came home with not a clue of how to eat it. Do I cut it, eat it whole, is the skin edible, eat it raw or cooked? I have eaten mango before either in a smoothie or salsa at a restaurant. But, never prepared it myself. They were on sale one day so I bought a few. I cut into it and realized there is a huge seed in the middle. Basically at the end of cutting it, I made a big mess and barely had any mango to eat. The second mango I enjoyed a whole lot more, because I watched a youtube tutorial. No shame in my mango game!
The something new doesn’t have to be food, it can be an activity or workout class. Something to get you active and moving. Maybe you heard a friend mention her workout, passed a local gym, or saw something cool online. Whatever it may be, go for it. Walk outside in your local neighborhood or find a group of people to join in with. Take the plunge and drop in a local gym or workout class you keep thinking about. Try a new adventure such as hiking or paddleboarding. Anything that your heart desires that gets your butt off the couch and moving.
Working out should not feel like a chore. Find something that works best for you that you enjoy. Fitness is life to me, but I dread the treadmill, 5 minutes feels like an hour. I get beyond bored being stuck in one spot. If someone told me that was the only way to workout, well this girl would not workout. So try a few new activities and see what sparks your interest and stick with it. It’s your body, your life, have fun with it!
Tip #3 : Walk
If you have legs use them. As with anything, it takes time to build endurance, but you need to start somewhere. No need to park front and center at the store or work. Park in the back and sneak a walk into your day. Opt to take the stairs versus the elevator or escalator. Keep a log of your steps either in a journal or app and challenge yourself to increase it each week. Adding a few extra steps each day will help to strengthen your muscles and burn calories.
Fun Fact: The more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest. That means you can sit on the couch to watch your favorite TV show and burn extra calories doing absolutely nothing. Hard work does pay off!
Once again, keep it fun. Download your favorite playlist or audio book and head outside to walk. You can go alone for “me” time or find some locals to join in with. I use the app AllTrails, which is completely free. You are able to search for paths/trails wherever you are. It provides you with the level of difficulty, distance, map, and reviews from others who checked it out. Start your timer or step count and get out to walk.
Tip #4 : Make a Swap
Make a change is what you put into your body. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love to eat. Search for a healthier way to enjoy your favorites. Fried chicken is delish, but the waistline of my pants is not a fan of it. Try lightly coating chicken in panko/bread crumbs mixed with herbs and bake it in the oven for a crispy texture.
Dips and sauces typically add extra, empty calories. Therefore search for an alternative or eliminate all together. Making your own sauce versus buying packaged, lowers your calorie and typically salt intake as well. Benefits of making your own also allows you to know what you are exactly consuming.
Switch your afternoon snack with a fruit instead. Pack a healthier alternative each day for work and see how your energy level changes throughout the day. I could easily sit down and finish a whole bag of goldfish in one sitting, that’s why I don’t buy it or allow them in my house. Instead I prepackage nuts or containers of fruit, for an easy grab and go. I come home starving and want to reach for what is easy because I want food right then and there. Making the swap to preparing fruit and vegetables ahead of time, in a portioned container, gives me an easy and healthy alternative. My hanger is resolved and I am fueled for whatever adventure is next.
Tip #5 : Shop the Outside of the Grocery Store
Shopping the outside of the grocery store instead of the aisles, provides you with fresh and healthier choices. This is where you will find fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and healthier starches. Granted certain aisles have a few essentials, but the majority of your shopping cart should consist of items from the outer portion of the grocery store. Once you get into the aisles you come across packaged foods containing unhealthy additives and words you can’t even pronounce on the nutrition label. Rule of thumb, if the package has over 3-5 ingredients and you can’t pronounce or recognize any of them, put it back.
Go for it
Take your time, don’t overwhelm yourself or body with a hundred changes at once. It’s a lifestyle, it’s a lifetime, but you have to start somewhere.
What is your favorite go to snack?
I want to hear it, name a healthy change you have made!