It’s that time of year when everyone swears to lose 10 pounds and join a gym/exercise regularly, but the majority never come close to making his or her goals. So what’s the deal? Is it really that hard to be healthy? Yes, it is, partly due to our “fast food” lifestyle and overindulgent ways but also very much to do with time versus convenience. We live in a world where I can grab an unhealthy meal for $5 and in 5 minutes but will have to prep/cook a healthy meal for about an hour. However, I’ve compiled a list of some basic ideas to make you feel accomplished and on the right path to changing your lifestyle, one step at a time.
I believe health is just a series of small, daily choices. Now of course there are situations and medical conditions that are out of one’s control, but these are all things YOU directly have a say in.
1.Choose your drinks wisely.
- This doesn’t refer to just water versus soda (which will be a separate post because it’s something I’m passionate about.) This is making sure you aren’t getting hidden sugar and calories in “healthy” options like fruit juice and tea. Really start reading labels, you wouldn’t believe what they’ll label as healthy but upon closer inspection is worse for you than that 20-word starbucks drink order with extra whip and caramel. Water is really your best option, tea has added benefits. Fruit can be added to enhance taste! There is nothing better for our bodies than water, 70% of what makes you you is water.
- Limit alcohol consumption! I know this is harder than quitting soda and sugary drinks for some, but it’s absolutely paramount to your success. There’s nothing wrong with occasional drinking, but drinks with a low alcohol content usually have high calorie counts. Mike’s Hard and beer are not your friend! Instead of a “Rum and Coke” either order it on the rocks or a lighter option like “Vodka Cran” which is mostly ice and a little cranberry juice. If you’re making the drinks yourself, there’s quite a few recipes on Pinterest like White Strawberry Lemon Sangria and Low Calorie Drinks to Order at the bar (hover over titles for link) for low-calorie drinks that still taste yummy!
2. Do something out of your comfort zone daily.
- This can be as simple as walking during your lunch break or trying out a new gym. Complacency leads to you becoming accustomed to your unhealthy habits and most certainly is self-destructive for your goals!
- Take a hike, explore your town, shop! Focus on experiences that are fun, but also active. Groupon is a great source of what’s around where you live for an affordable price.
3. Make goals, write them down, and tell people about them.
- Goals are not just for thinking about and then forgetting. Make them more permanent! Write it down. Make a poster. Post it on social media. When you make your goals public and share them with others, statistically you’re more likely to keep your promises! You also might find some unlikely allies.
4. Have a “cheat” meal or “cheat” day.
- A bunch of you are probably sighing in relief. Yay! Something positive! However… This is called a cheat meal or cheat day for a reason. It’s one day or one meal that you get to indulge and not think about fat/sugar/carb content. This motivates you to eat healthy the rest of the week because you’re looking forward to that special treat. It also promotes seeing fattening food as an occasional treat instead a daily occurrence.
- Something weird starts happening as you change your diet and exercise habits. I swear, your cheat meal starts to become healthier and healthier because that’s what you’re genuinely craving… I’ll get Pho or Sushi and a dairy-free smoothie on my cheat day instead of In-N-Out or McDonalds. No lie. And it’s more satisfying and you don’t have that “I want to puke” feeling afterward.
5. Find friends/coworkers/family with similar goals.
- There’s nothing like having a network and strong support system. If your significant other has completely opposite lifestyle goals… then I’m sorry but you might not work out. How are you going to eat fresh fruit and exercise if they’re wanting to have dinner at a fast food restaurant every night and spend weekends watching movies? It’s an unnecessary source of conflict and tension. Get that negativity out of your life!
- Lean on friends to keep your motivation high. They really are someone to vent to and celebrate with. They won’t judge you for being in workout clothing all the time and hopefully will be inspired themselves.
6. Have tech support.
- MyFitnessPal is a great app that I’ve been using since high school… and I’m about to be a college graduate. You can download it on your smartphone or enter it manually online like my mama does. It is fully customizable. You fill out height, weight, sex, and age, as well as weight loss goals. It then gives you a calorie count that you should hold yourself to. MyFitnessPal also tracks fat, protein, and carbohydrate percentages because 2,000 calories of sugar and 2,000 calories of protein are DEFINITELY not the same thing.
- Misfit or Fitbit activity trackers are fun and motivating. Misfit’s are lower priced and have a cool smartphone app that syncs via bluetooth. I have friends who use Fitbit and love it. Regardless, your iPhone just won’t track your steps like one of these little guys… I doubt it’s literally always on you especially when you’re at work.