What better time than now to start implementing the healthy life changes you’ve been thinking about for months? While making the changes necessary for a healthier life may seem daunting, you can achieve it in just 10 easy steps. Remember, every little progress is a victory. Don’t be blinded by your end goal. Applaud yourself for every positive step in the right direction!
Eat Mindfully: Eating mindfully means being fully aware of what you are eating and how you’re eating it, which means not eating while reading, watching TV or using the computer. Research has shown that our digestive system is 30 to 40% less effective when eating while doing other activities. Plus, because people aren’t being mindful of what they’re eating, they typically consume 10% more calories and continue to consume about 25% more later in the day.
Keep a Food Journal: Keeping a journal of exactly what you eat and when you eat it can help make you more aware of your eating habits. It’s a good practice to document how you feel after you eat a meal so you can see how your body responds to good, nutrient-dense foods compared to processed food full of junk. After you acknowledge the obvious patterns, eating healthy becomes much more than a weight loss strategy.
Read Nutrition Labels: This is probably the easiest way to cut bad foods out of your diet. Being aware of exactly what you’re buying can help you make better choices. For example, if you saw that one product had 500 calories per serving and a similar product had only 300, it would be worth a try to get that product instead. Plus, there are a number of ingredients listed in common pantry items that are just simply bad for us. It is our job as adults to make the best decisions for our health and the well-being of our children. Take a look at Food Labels Translated: 10 Alarming Ingredients to Avoid.
Reduce Intake of High Sodium Foods: While food that may seem like healthy lunch options like soup and lunch meats are harmless, they can actually contain a great deal of sodium. Cutting sodium from 4,000 mg to 2,000 mg a day can lower your blood pressure by almost two points. Look for “healthy” versions of these high sodium products, keeping in mind that the word “healthy” can’t be on a label if the product contains more than 480 mg of sodium per serving. Read here for 9 ways to lower your salt intake.
Eat Whole Grains: Always choose whole grain breads, cereals, pastas and rice when you can. Whole grains have been proven to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems.
Eat Breakfast Everyday: It is incredibly important to start you day with a healthy, nutrient-dense and filling breakfast. Developing hunger pangs in the morning and afternoon will most likely cause you to overeat later on. To set yourself up for a good day, check out our 7 High Protein, Low Carb Breakfast Recipes. These are delicious and will keep you satisfied until meal two!
Get Plenty of Sleep: Getting enough sleep is key to becoming a healthier you. It is recommended that adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Try not watching television, exercising or being in bright lights an hour before you go to sleep as these mental stimulants can make it hard to fall asleep. If you’re having trouble shutting your mind off at night, try some of these 5 Ways to Get A Better Night’s Sleep.
Increase Exercise: Increasing your exercise not only helps you shed pounds and tone up, it can also help elevate your mood, increase energy overtime and help decrease risk of heart disease and diabetes. If it is possible, try to get 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity in 4 to 5 days a week. Changing your mindset about fitness and exercise will also be crucial to getting to your healthier you. Exercise can be done throughout the day instead of spending your 30-60 minutes at one time in a gym. Get creative and innovative! Wake up every morning and do a series of push ups, sit ups, lunges and squats. (Read: No Weights? No Gym? No Problem! Bodyweight Training Does it All!) That’s a great workout! Get in a walk later in the day with your kids. There’s your cardio! A lot of times, we are the obstacle standing in our own way. We need to think outside the box and realize fitness doesn’t always mean being alone in a gym with an hour of extreme cardio.
Hydrate: Proper hydration is also an important factor when it comes to an overall healthier you. It is recommended that you drink your weight divided by two in ounces. So if you weigh 180 pounds you should drink 90 ounces of water per day and this should be adjusted based on your level of exercise per day.
Relax: In order to become a healthier you, you must learn to relax! Experiment with deep breathing exercises, meditation, guided imagery, aromatherapy or yoga. Most importantly, make sure you set aside at least a half hour each week to be alone in peace and quiet.