I am a firm believer in moderation. Nothing is completely off-limits in my book. BUT, if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight, lose weight and/or live an overall healthy lifestyle, there are some realistic steps you can take to help you get there and STAY there. And being healthy isn’t just about how much you weigh. It’s about providing your body with the right fuel it needs to function and limiting the things that do the opposite.
These 5 tips will allow you to splurge more often, feel less guilt when you do and help you make more informed decisions when it comes to food, exercise and healthy living.
- Cook. Yes, I know I sound like a broken record but seriously, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal. It can be as simple as throwing some chicken on the grill, roasting some veggies or scrambling some eggs (all of which require little more than oil, salt and pepper). If you eat at home, you are in control and portion sizes tend to be much more reasonable. Conversely, if you eat out often, you are without-a-doubt getting far more calories, fat, and salt than you’d get in a homemade version of the same thing (even if you are cooking with butter, salt and/or sugar). In particular, if you frequently go to chain restaurants (like Chili’s, Applebee’s, Cheesecake Factory, etc.) you can guarantee you’re getting 1,000+ calories and an entire day’s worth of sodium in just 1 entrée.
- Make small changes. Think about your eating habits and where you could use improvement. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations like cutting entire food groups or swearing off sweets forever (unless you have a medical condition that requires such restrictions). Rather, limit your portions and choose healthier options. For example, if you love cheese on your sandwich, slice it thin, opt for reduced-fat versions or if you are a frequent sandwich eater, like yours truly, add cheese every OTHER time. Or, if you must have something sweet after dinner (again, yours truly), save premium ice cream for a special occasion and opt for a small piece of good quality dark chocolate or frozen yogurt. Baby steps people, baby steps.
- Read nutrition labels. You don’t have to be calorie conscious to read labels. And don’t assume because the front of the label makes health claims like “made with whole grain” or “reduced fat” it’s a slam dunk. Food companies are smart. They OFTEN sneak in extra sugar, salt, fillers and other not-so-great ingredients to compensate for the “healthy” upgrades. And, there are often artificial sweeteners and dyes in products that you would never expect. For example, did you know that many jarred pickles have artificial dye in them? Same with Life cereal. Or that whole wheat versions of some English muffins have artificial sweeteners (probably to make it appear healthier)? Again, these things won’t kill you in moderation but you would NEVER know it’s in there without reading the label. And, especially now-a-days, when there are SO many food companies competing for your business, it’s so important to be pro-active and read the label before you decide what to purchase.
- Move. You don’t have to kill yourself for hours at the gym, run a marathon or become the next beach body. Though, serious kudos to those who have the time and energy for that. But, if you are like me, with little time for exercise (unless I wake up at 5 am or work out at 9 pm, both of which aren’t gonna happen) you have to take any opportunity you’ve got to get up and move. Aim for at least a 20-30 of moderate exercise, 5 days a week. If you can do more, by all means, do it. And if you are trying to loose weight, you will need to increase the intensity and time. If you sit at a desk all day, set a timer and get up and walk around at least 1 time an hour.
- Don’t starve yourself. Skipping meals can reek havoc on your metabolism. If it’s not busy digesting food, it starts to slow down. Which, if your trying to loose weight, is the exact opposite you want to happen. Not to mention, you are way more likely to make poor decisions at the next meal time, your energy level is low, it’s harder to concentrate AND you’ll probably loose friends because you’re always hangry. If you are constantly on the go, make sure you keep healthy snacks nearby. HERE are some of my favorite snacks I like to grab on my way out.
Getting to a healthier you is not limited to these 5 things but you’ve got to start somewhere. Try skipping the quick fix fad diets and incorporate more realistic changes into your daily life. Change takes time but if you stay patient, keep your eye on the prize and respect your body (after all, it’s the only one we’ve got), you’ll be one step closer to reaching your goals.
Go you! ♥