Here are some healthy lifestyle tips and tricks:
- Drink Water – I always drink a whole water bottle full of water when I wake up because overnight, our bodies use up a lot of energy which naturally dehydrates us. Instead of immediately gulping down juice or grabbing some grub – drink H2O. This will also help you think logically before stepping in the kitchen to cook up breakfast. Add some lemon for some flava and more flushing power and be sure to sip before & after all meals. This helps cravings, as well.
- Eat Breakfast – After drinking water, you should definitely eat a substantial breakfast. It is not a myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I don’t know about you – but I am always starving in the morning, no matter what I eat the night before. Many people I have come across have told me that they skip it because they aren’t that hungry and would rather save the calories for later. Eek! In all honesty, we all have more self-control in the morning – it’s human nature. Nighttime is where the cravings and the uncontrollable hankerings are many peoples’ downfall. Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch, and a peasant for dinner is the general rule of thumb. Our metabolisms are at their peeks in the morning and we need more fuel early on in the day rather than in the evening.
- Do NOT Deprive Yourself – I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world. I love any kind of sweet dish! You don’t have to say no when someone offers you a piece of candy, slice of cake or scoop of ice cream. HUH? Yes, I am sure. As long as you balance out the rest of your day. I actually eat a piece (or two) of 72% dark chocolate just about every day. Or I put some cocoa powder in my yogurt. But these are healthier than milk chocolate which is basically all sugar. Shoot for 70% or more when you eat chocolate, cocoa is a great source of antioxidants. Milk chocolate actually does not suit my fancy anymore when I use to ONLY eat the creamy stuff. Dark chocolate is where it’s at.
- Move – One of the best feelings is waking up (drinking water) then going outside for a walk, jog or even going to the gym. It is invigorating, empowering and definitely energizing. It creates a bigger appetite for breakfast, too! If exercise is done for more than 30 minutes or so, make sure you eat a snack first. A good one would be a slice of whole wheat bread or a banana paired with peanut butter. Or an apple with a handful of nuts. Good carbs + protein is key to having a great workout for longer lasting energy and a more efficient exercise sesh.
- Make a Schedule – On Sunday night, it is always a good idea to write out goals to be met by the end of the week. This can include anything including work, school, meals, workout plans, etc. We are more apt to stick to going to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday if it is written down.Writing out your plans on paper makes your intentions more serious, rather than just having the idea of going to the gym float around in your head until you come up with a reason that it would be better to skip. Plus, being able to check off any goal that has been met leads to satisfaction, which leads to doing it again the next week, which leads to wonderful health… 😉
- Chew Gum & Suck on Mints – Nowadays there are so many flavors of mints & gum. There shouldn’t be anyone in existence that wouldn’t like at least one type. If I feel a craving coming on, I grab some gum. I love spearmint and the flavor always satisfies me so the lust for an extra piece of chocolate magically disappears. I also do this every night after dinner. Most mints and slices of gum are sugar-free and gives your mouth something to be preoccupied with. It works!
- Spice up Your Life – There are endless amounts of spices and herbs out there that will transform any dish’s flavor into a brilliant meal. For example, basil + tomato = heaven. Tomato on its own may be a bore to some, so adding a brilliant flavor will help you further enjoy eating them. I use cinnamon every single day and it gives my oatmeal and yogurt that much more of an appetizing flavor. Also herbs and spices are very healthy with very minimal calories. If you regularly read my blog, you will see me using Hot Siracha Sauce on the regular. This is also another way to bring another layer of flavor to veggies, or whatever else you choose. The only slight problem with this sauce (and many other pre-packaged sauces) is the sodium level. I use less salt in my cooking when I know I’m going to use Siracha. And since it’s blazingly hot, there’s no reason to use a ton – so it’s totally okay.
- Read the Label – Speaking of sodium, reading the label to anything you purchase is so totally necessary. After doing this for a while, you’ll become more aware of which foods have more of what. But, sometimes an unexpected amount of sugar, fat, carbohydrates, or sodium may come up. For example, yogurt. Many people have been tricked by the food industry with their luring commercials that advertise their non-fat yogurts. BEWARE: many of these flavored yogurts have more sugar than Lucky Charms. Some companies come up with delicious flavors with zero fat! How do they make it so delicious with virtually no fat? They add sugar. This sugar is many times a bigger enemy than fat – when the body processes too much sugar, it is processed and turned into fat. All for some yogurt? I think not. So all I’m saying is – be careful and read labels.
- Get Creative – …with your food and your work-outs. Who wants to eat the same food and move the same way every single day? Not me! It’s important to switch up your gym routine or running route once in a while to give your mind and body a new challenge. Repetitive workouts tend to turn into zero working out because of the bore factor. And when it comes to food, get creative! It’s so easy to (like I said before) add different spices and herbs to the same exact food and get a completely different experience. But not only that, try new foods. There are so many fruits, grains and vegetables that I have yet to try and just the thought of tasting something new is exciting. Thanks to Kath, I am in desperate need to try chia seeds and wheatberries. I cannot wait to throw them into my oatmeal!
- What’s in Season – Before you head to the grocery store, ask yourself what produce is in season. If you don’t know, Google it! The thing is, many people do not like certain fruits or vegetables because they have only tasted them when they are not at their peak yumminess. Corn, berries, apples, etc. are some examples of this. Or instead of hitting up the grocery store, support your local farmer’s markets and taste some real fresh local food. And that way, you’ll know that everything there is in season!
- Choose Wisely – Like I said with chocolate, dark is best. It has more cocoa content and therefore less room for sugar. The same goes for many other foods. There is no reason to skip cheese altogether, but there is also no reason you can’t try a lower fat version of mozzarella or a healthy goat or Swiss cheese, rather than the overly-processed American cheese. By the way, cheese is one of my favorite foods. I love brie, feta and pretty much any other kind you can think of!
- Surround Yourself With Positivity – Be sure that the ones surrounding you have positive attitudes & support your healthy eating habits. Negative Nancies may offset your healthy lifestyle. If those around you are not keen, check out the blogs I mentioned as My Inspirations. They will be the positivity that you just may need.
- Get Enough Z’s – Sleeping is imperative for so many reasons. Seven hours of sleep at the least should be on your agenda every single night. Without enough sleep our hormones get all out of whack, which actually causes foul moods and carb cravings. Also, if you workout – sleep time is when our bodies repair our muscles so it’s obvious how run-down our bodies will feel if it is deprived. Sleeping helps fight off colds and other sicknesses as well. So you can see why it is definitely worth it to go to sleep a little extra early.
- Weigh In – If you haven’t reached your ‘happy weight’ then it would be a good idea to weigh yourself at least once a week to track your progress. It will give you more incentive to not overindulge and make better choices. And if you are at your happy weight, weighing in once in a while will make sure that you are maintaining the perfect balance of food intake and exercise.
Note: I will update this periodically, so be sure to check back!
Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician nor a nutritionist. I am telling you this in light of what works for me in my own life. No two people require the same amount/type of food or exercise but these general rules of thumb work for me.