Holy blog hiatus! I have really been slacking writing lately, and I do apologize. Between work, life and planning a wedding (5 more months!) things have been crazy!
With the new year upon us, millions of people are flocking to the gym, stocking their refrigerators with fruits and vegetables and vowing to themselves that this year will be different; this year will be the year to live a healthier lifestyle! As all of us who have made this resolution in the past are aware, we probably did this for a few weeks or months, and then life got in the way and slowly the unhealthy habits sneak back up on us.
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It takes some serious dedication to exercise regularly and eat healthy with all the distractions we have in our lives, and not everyone has the passion to keep it up. I think that ANY step, big or small, someone takes to live a healthier life is a win! Many people fail to keep up with their healthy new years resolutions because they try to do it at all once. Well, that might work for some people, but I think the majority of us would benefit more in the long run from taking small steps towards healthier living.
On that note, I wanted to share a list of 10 steps you can take towards a healthier lifestyle. Some of these steps I have already taken, others I am currently working on, and some I aspire to one day achieve. Good luck!
10 Tips for a Healthier Lifestyle
1. Quit Smoking (Or at least start cutting back)!
Ok, I know I’m starting out with a big one. But seriously, if you’re a smoker, this is the BEST thing you can do to get the greatest health benefits. Making this your first step to healthy living, will make all other subsequent steps soooo much easier. I quit smoking (cold turkey and NO cheating) 10 months ago and I feel like a new person.
Success Tip: Try downloading an app to keep you focused on quitting. I use Quit It which gives you a dashboard of how long you’ve been smoke free, money saved, cigarettes not smoked and health benefits you’ve achieved.
2. Start making healthy food substitutions.
I don’t believe in dieting. I believe in making smart decisions. Instead of white bread, choose wheat bread. Instead of Burger King, choose Subway. Instead of white rice, choose brown… and then after that move to quinoa. It’s really as easy as that. I am constantly googling to find substitutions for every day foods. All those little (yet smart) choices will add up!
3. Get your beauty rest.
Sleep is key. Without a good nights sleep, you will not have the energy to go to the gym and cook meals. It’s much easier to stay motivated and focused when you have a clear, well-rested mind and body. In my early 20s, I always stayed up late. I was always afraid I was going to miss out on something. What a waste! Nothing good happens at midnight (or 9:00pm in my world).
4. Start working out one day a week.
It pains me to see people overdo it at the gym right after new years. If you hop on a treadmill and power through a 2 mile run after not doing anything for a year, you aren’t going to want to come back. Start slow! Start by going to the gym one day a week… Maybe walking on a treadmill (maybe add an incline), do a few sets of some basic weight training, etc. Slowly start to do more as your body continues to adjust. This will leave you feeling more satisfied after your work out so that you will want to come to the gym more!
5. Drink more water.
This is another easier one with huge benefits. What I have enjoyed by forcing myself to drink 72-80 oz. of water a day is that it fills me up more making me less hungry through out the day (especially on work days). Warning: When you first start this. You will pee aaaaallll the time. But… that’s good! It will force you to walk more as well. After a week of increasing you water intake, you will notice that you are thirsty all the time (even when you’ve already met your daily water goal).
Please note: While writing this blog article, I had to take a break at this point to go to the bathroom to pee. No joke. 😉
6. Change up your work outs.
Another things that helps keep you motivated to work out is by switching up your work outs. This is what a typical work out week looks like for me:
- Monday: Gym… I vary my routine, but I always lift weights (working upper OR lower body) and do 2-3 cardio bursts (i.e. elliptical, stair climber, treadmill).
- Tuesday: Body sculpt… I just enrolled in a body sculpt class over lunch. It works all muscle groups and incorporates some low level cardio.
- Thursday: Hot Yoga… I like any Flow classes, but I will be taking it up a notch very soon and doing Barre classes instead.
- Saturday: Hike… There’s a dog park near our house that is about 2 miles (with hills) that is perfect, low level exercise for both me and my pups!
7. Count your calories (for educational purposes!)
I’m not an advocate of counting every single calorie you put in your mouth, but I do think it’s important to be educated as to what the nutritional value is of the food you’re eating. I think that most people don’t realize how bad some foods are for you, and how HUGE some portion sizes are. By simple logging your meals/snacks for a while, it really helps give you a good idea of what you’re really eating.
Success Tip: Try using myfitnesspal… It even connects with your Fitbit!
8. Eat out less. Cook more meals.
Once you log your calories for a while, you’ll quickly discover that eating out means you get less food and double the calories! By cooking meals at home, you have much more control over what ingredients you are putting in your food. It also gives you the option to make some of those smarter substitutions! For example, I was craving chicken tenders and wanted to go to a local bar to get some. Instead, my wonderful fiance made baked breaded chicken tenders. I swear, they tasted just as good and were FAR less calories.
9. Treat yourself.
If you’ve been working really hard at eating healthy and exercising, good lord, let yourself have treats once and a while! I snag probably a chocolate a day (and I don’t log it). Why? Because I damn well earned it. Plus, that will keep me from eating the whole box of chocolates later on. You can eat whatever you want… in moderation.
10. Accept there will be days where you eat cheeseburgers and skip work outs.
It’s going to happen. For me, I travel for work in the spring and fall. There’s no avoiding eating out and it’s really difficult to get work outs in, but that’s a part of my job. It’s not going to do any good to get upset with yourself, or try to compensate for it the next day by skipping a meal or working out too hard. Instead, let it go, and get back into your routine the next day. We all have hiccups.
I hope that helps you in your journey to becoming healthier!