When people look at my lifestyle they often say, “I’d like to live that kind of healthy lifestyle, but that’s just too much for me. I could never do it.” I admit, I used to feel the same way. I saw this healthy lifestyle as a giant leap rather than a series of small steps. An old proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I personally can’t envision walking a thousand miles, the the principle rings true. You don’t have to go from Krispy Kreme to kale overnight. Here are some small, simple steps to get you started on your own personal journey. Adopt all 10 or start with one at a time. No matter what, any healthy change you make in your life is a victory.
- Commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. You don’t have to go from sitting on the couch to
running a marathon. Start by walking or pick something you can do in your living room. March in place, do push-ups and sit-ups, lunge and squat while watching your favorite TV show. The point is to get moving.
- Drink more water. Invest in a good water bottle and squeeze in some lemons. Water helps you feel full longer, aids in digestion and gives you energy along with many other benefits. Each day, drink one ounce of water for each pound you weigh.
- Eat on a schedule. Pick a schedule that works for you. I recommend eating between three and five meals a day. The point is, don’t snack between meals and have a cut-off time. I don’t eat after 7 p.m. to protect myself from my favorite “after kid-bedtime binging.” I make a lot less bad decisions with a meal schedule.
- Get more sleep. We’re so good at being busy, we forget how important sleep is. Adults should get between 7 and 9 hours a sleep a night. Getting adequate sleep aids in weight loss, lowers stress, aids in concentration, improves focus and provides many more benefits. Though it seems like we don’t have enough time to get all the sleep we need , when we consider all the health benefits, sleeping more may actually save us time in the end.
- Don’t drink your calories. A can of soda has around 140 calories, a slushee has about 230 calories and an energy drink has about 200 calories. What do these all have in common? They don’t fill you up. They’re what we call empty calories. Swap out your caloric beverages for water or a sparkling flavored water like La Croix.
- Add vegetables to every meal. Whether fresh, frozen, roasted, or sauteed, just eat more vegetables. Add them in scrambled eggs for breakfast, have a salad with a hearty protein for lunch, add some roasted squash and peppers with dinner.
- Check labels for sugar. Sugar is a sneaky ingredient. It lurks in meats, sauces, condiments, cereals and seemingly “healthy” yogurts. Don’t think something is healthy because it comes in a green container with a picture of a leaf. Read labels and pick the brand/product with the lowest sugar content.
- Walk whenever possible. If your destination is less than a mile away, walk instead of drive.
- Eat protein with every meal. Protein helps you feel full longer, helps build muscle and increases brain activity along with many other health benefits. Protein doesn’t just mean meat. Protein can also be found in eggs, beans, nuts/nut butters, and greek yogurt.
- Eat meals at the table. Eating in front of the TV or computer leads to mindless eating, which often goes hand-in-hand with overeating. Eating at a table and focusing on your food helps you better listen to your body and know when you are satisfied.