The biggest obstacles people face when trying to make positive changes in their lives are first, being honest with themselves and admitting that there is a change that needs to be made and second, taking action towards reaching a better place. If you are like many Americans, being honest with yourself would reveal that there are probably some things that you could be doing differently, in terms of overall lifestyle, if you want to live a long and healthy life.
This can be a difficult reality to come to terms with, especially when you feel lost about how to go about improving your health habits. Despite what you may think, there are several baby steps and gradual changes you can make that over time will dramatically change how you look and feel for the better. You are in control and I want you to see how much power you actually hold in your hand!
Here are 5 easy changes that you can make TODAY towards a lighter, leaner, and healthier you:
Sip on water throughout the day, you should be drinking more than 1 or 2 of these! Aim for 3-4, more if you are very active (and you should be!)
(1) DO THE BASICS– These are the things you probably know you should be doing, but aren’t- and they are very important. There are no shortcuts and it is a simply a fact that not making these behaviors a priority will at some point, affect the quality of your life. Take responsibility for your health and JUST DO IT- no excuses.
- Always keep a water bottle with you and drink out of it all day.
- Get 30-60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise EVERY DAY. Walk, run, bike, swim, elliptical, play a sport. Lifting weights 2x a week is also very important, for both women and men, especially as you age and your body composition begins to change. Don’t use exercise as an excuse to gorge yourself later- it’s easy to overdo it and end up taking in way more calories than you burned. Focus on healthy choices.
(2) **EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES **– There should never be a day that you go without eating both a fruit and a vegetable. This is the most important lifestyle change you can make. Often times when people want to lose weight they focus on all the foods they “can’t” eat, or should be eating less of. Instead, focus on all the delicious foods you CAN eat, like fruits and vegetables. Aim to make half of your plate fruits and veggies at every meal! A great website for recipes, meal planning, what’s in season, and general nutrition information is http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/
(3) DETOX YOUR PANTRY– Don’t buy processed, sugary, or fatty foods! Get serious about this. Making this change immediately decreases the temptation to make poor choices. Stock your refrigerator with fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans.
(4) ELIMINATE LIQUID CALORIES– Fruit juice (even 100% juice), soda, lattes and coffees with special syrups or lots of creamer won’t fill you up- just out. Water should be your main beverage. Eating whole fruits and vegetables provides fiber and even some protein, not present in juice, that will keep you satisfied for longer. Drink tea and coffee plain or with a small amount of skim milk or cinnamon for flavor. Consider swapping out calorie and fat-laden salad dressings for balsamic vinaigrette, fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice, or simply some diced strawberries or fresh blueberries for extra flavor.
(5) CUT OUT SUGAR and cheese– Consider how many sources of sugar there may be in your diet right now. Limit yourself to one treat a week and keep the portions small. Instead of flavored yogurts, try plain varieties and add your own fresh fruit or nuts for flavor. Cutting out cheese completely is not necessary, but it really offers little-to-no nutritional value in exchange for its high saturated fat and calorie content. If you take it out of your omelet, off your sandwich and off pasta a couple times a week, and go light with cheese on homemade pizzas, your body will thank you.
Commit to your health and surround yourself with others who also value living a healthy lifestyle to increase your success. Believe you can and start today. : )