Taking the first step toward a healthier lifestyle can be overwhelming, but eating healthy doesn’t have to mean drinking your weight in protein powder or downing a dozen egg whites for breakfast. If you’re looking to reclaim your health—or simply boost your activity levels—realize that simple changes are enough to spell success. Making smart swaps in the kitchen and lacing up your walking shoes more frequently can be a great start. Use these 30 tips as a roadmap for change on the path toward a healthier you.
Meditation is more than just a great way to reduce stress. According to a study in the “American Journal of Psychiatry,” meditation can also help treat anxiety-related disorders. Devote 10-15 minutes per day to sitting quietly to meditate or simply be with your own thoughts. In the busy pace of life, taking time to just be still is essential.
Don’t routinely rely on over-the-counter drugs for minor aches and pains. When possible, make proper diet and rest your first defense. For your next line of defense, seek out natural remedies. When using medication, follow a doctor’s guidance.
DRINK MORE WATER
Most of us actually don’t drink enough water every day. Water is essential for our body to function — Do you know over 60% of our body is made up of water? Water is needed to carry out our body functions, remove waste and carry nutrients and oxygen around our body. Since we lose water every day through urine, bowel movements, perspiration and breathing, we need to replenish our water intake.
PICK BRIGHT COLOURED FOOD
Fruits and vegetables with bright colors are usually high in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are good for health because they remove free radicals in our body that damage our cells. So get your fill of fruits/vegetables of different colors: White (Bananas, Mushroom), Yellow (Pineapples, Mango), Orange (Orange, Papaya), Red (Apple, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon), Green (Guava, Avocados, Cucumber, Lettuce, Celery), Purple/Blue (Blackberries, Eggplant, Prunes).
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
When you don’t rest well, you compensate by eating more. Usually it’s junk food. Get enough rest and you don’t need to snack to stay awake. Also, lack of sleep causes premature aging, and you wouldn’t want that.
START THE DAY WITH A WELL-BALANCED BREAKFAST
How you start your day sets the tone for everything that follows. Kick things off the right way with a balanced meal. That will help keep your blood sugar levels stabilized throughout the morning. You’ll be less likely to hit up the vending machine after that afternoon meeting. Ideally, breakfast should blend of all three macronutrients—proteins, carbohydrates, and dietary fats.
AVOID TRIGGER FOODS
Trigger foods are the foods that make you go berserk and binge like crazy after you eat them. Everyone’s trigger foods are different, but generally trigger foods are candy bars, chocolate, confectionery, chips, cookies, or anything with high level of refined sugar, salt, fat or flour. These foods cause a blood sugar imbalance, hence triggering one to eat more. What are your trigger foods? Identify them and remove them from your diet.
Laughter might really be the best medicine. One study published in the “International Journal of Cardiology” noted that people who were less likely to experience laughter during the day were at an increased risk for coronary heart disease. Laughter’s also an excellent mood booster. So go ahead and laugh out loud!
CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE
While drinking a daily cup of coffee or two a day can boost your health, when this daily cup turns into five—or is paired with other forms of caffeine on a regular basis—the health benefits can turn to risks. People who consume too much caffeine daily are going to be at risk for higher levels of anxiety, headaches, energy highs and lows, and higher levels of stress and burnout. Start weaning yourself of one cup at a time.
CUT DOWN ON PROCESSED FOOD
Processed foods are not good because (1) most nutritional value is lost in the making of these foods and (2) the added preservatives are bad for our health. Many processed foods contain a high amount of salt content, which leads to higher blood pressure and heart disease. Processed foods are anything that is not in its raw form. In general, most of the food in supermarket are processed — the more the ingredients on the label (especially the ones ending with ‘ite’ or ‘ate’), the more processed they are. Watch out for those with salt/sugar in the first 5 ingredients and go for natural foods as much as possible.
SNACK ON NUTS—BUT DON’T GO NUTS
Nuts are a fantastic snack to have throughout the day, provided you keep your portion sizes under control. They are rich in healthy fats, contain a good dose of dietary fiber, and will help you stay satiated. Consider snacking on an ounce of walnuts to get in some omega-3 fatty acids, a handful of lutein-rich pistachios, or a one-ounce serving of almonds, which contains 37 percent of your daily dose of vitamin E.
INDULGE IN DARK CHOCOLATE
No, this doesn’t give you the green light to down a bag of midnight Snickers. But, if you often suffer from chocolate cravings, indulge in one square of dark chocolate daily. Dark chocolate that’s at least 60-70 percent cocoa has high flavonoid concentrations that can help your health. Giving yourself permission to indulge might help you maintain course the rest of the time, keeping your calorie intake in check.
GET HOOKED ON FISH
Fish is one of the healthiest protein sources you can add to your diet, yet far too many people aren’t consuming it regularly enough. Serve up fish such as salmon and sardines, which respectively pack 1,210 mg and 1,950 mg of omega-3 per 3-ounce serving. Additionally, choose lower mercury white fish varieties such as tilapia to keep your calorie count down.
EAT MORE VEGGIES
Like fruits, vegetables are important for the well being of our health. Experts suggest that we should have 5-9 servings of fruits/vegetables, and unfortunately most people don’t even have 5 servings! Some of my favorite vegetables include kidney beans, black beans, asparagus, long beans, french beans, sprouts, button mushrooms and carrots. What are your favorite vegetables and how can you include more of them in your diet today?
FOCUS ON MOVING MORE
So many people erroneously believe that they have to work out in a gym for it to be considered “exercise.” Change your frame of mind. Any form of movement will help you reach your fitness goals—whether it takes place outside, in your home, or at the local shopping mall as you window shop. Simply focus on moving more and you’ll be off to a great start.
Working out your mind is just as important as working out your body. Just as you should be making an effort to eat right and exercise, you should also be making an effort to keep learning. The minute you stop learning is the minute you accelerate the process of aging. A young mind is one that has a never-ending thirst for knowledge. Keep your mind sharp. Consider learning another language, taking up an instrument, or sitting down with the Sunday crossword. Then go exercise.
PICK EXERCISES YOU ENJOY
When you enjoy the sports, you’ll naturally want to do them. Exercise isn’t about suffering and pushing yourself; it’s about being healthy and having fun at the same time. Adding variation in your exercises will keep them interesting.
WORK OUT DIFFERENT PARTS OF YOUR BODY
Don’t just do cardio exercises (such as jogging). Give your full body a proper work out. The easiest way is to engage in sports, since they work out different muscle groups. Popular sports include basketball, football, swimming, tennis, squash, badminton, frisbee, and more.
Deeply. Oxygen is a vital source of life. You may know how to breathe, but are you breathing properly? Most of us don’t breathe properly – we take only shallow breathes and breathe to 1/3 of our lung capacity. Athletes are coached proper breathing techniques to get their best performance. A full breathis one where your lungs are completely filled, your abdomen expands and there’s minimum movement in your shoulders.
Stop late-night TVing and make a more concentrated effort to read daily. Whether you opt for fiction, non-fiction, or a magazine, any form of reading will help strengthen your mental health and keep your mind young.
ALLOW CHEAT MEALS
While it’s essential that you focus on eating as healthy as possible the vast majority of the time, don’t be afraid to indulge on occasion. It helps you maintain a healthy frame of mind around food, and reduces the chance of disordered eating. If you eat well 90 percent of the time, indulging 10 percent of the time won’t set you back. Designated weekly cheat windows could enhance your results and make you more likely to stick to your diet the rest of the time.
IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE
Good posture improves your breathing and makes you look more smarter and more attractive.
LEARN YOUR BODY
If there’s one golden rule to remember about diets, it’s that there are no set-in-stone rules. What might be an incredibly effective diet for one person could be disastrous for another. Everybody’s unique. While some commonalities such as a proper calorie and sufficient protein intake are essential to all diets, there’s room for individualization. Learn your body and adjust from there. It’s the best way to guarantee progress.
FIND AN ACTIVITY YOU LOVE
It’s important that you have a “flow activity,” an activity you can easily get lost in to de-stress. This activity should be one where you lose track of time and are entirely absorbed in whatever that activity happens to be. Doing your “flow state” activity weekly is one of the best ways to enrich your life and help to combat built-up tension.
Taking the time to journal can be one of the most effective ways to purge pent-up emotions and channel them into something productive. It’s a great way to relieve stress and get your feelings out. Awaken your inner voice and take a few minutes to journal daily.