10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier YOU
It doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming to start implementing healthier habits. I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned, both from my personal journey as well as from my education, experience and mentors in the field of health, fitness and nutrition.
In this e-guide, I share several important key tips to help you on your way to implementing healthier habits. It’s important to understand that real change doesn’t happen over night, even though we really want it to! Change is what happens when we decide we no longer want to settle for how we feel or look and we are truly ready to make a lifestyle shift (no crazy diets, pills, potions or “tricks”). The bottom line is, you have to DECIDE – not half heartedly, but with all your being, decide that you will start today and make it a priority.
Decide that your comfort zone is no longer serving you and you’re ready to step out and find the old you…or maybe even the NEW you!
I’d love to hear from you!
Stop by my Facebook page with questions, comments or to share progress. You can find me under Home of Healthy Mums.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical care or advice. Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your doctor about making diet and lifestyle changes that are right for you.
ARE YOU READY TO DIVE IN?
You probably know by now that there are no quick fixes when it comes to losing weight for the long term while also supporting your health.
The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to focus on adding in healthy habits. A healthy lifestyle is not about being on a ‘diet’, it’s about learning how to nourish your body so you can thrive – not feel deprived.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, impatient and want results NOW, but by making small changes you can live with for the rest of your life, the better your chances are for success. This is also the best way to get off of the diet roller coaster for good.
WHY RESTRICTIVE DIETS DON’T WORK:
According to Dr. Oz, “The problem with severely restricting diets is that they jolt your body into starvation mode, preventing your body from burning unwanted fat and storing more fat and calories for you to survive on. When the body can no longer get its calories from food it looks to get some of it calories from lean muscle. This results in muscle loss. Less muscle means a slower metabolic rate causing stalled weight loss or even worse - weight gain.”
It can be confusing to know where to begin, so I’m sharing 10 simple but effective, strategies you can incorporate to help you on the road to living a healthier, happier and more balanced life.
Start with 1 or 2 habits at a time then build on those successes by adding 1 or 2 more. Slow and steady really is the way to go so that you incorporate these habits as part of your lifestyle.
You can start with the simplest habit first and go from there if you like. Don’t get overwhelmed – just start with ONE thing. Write it down somewhere as a reminder.
Grab your smart phone, iPad, tablet or pad of paper as we get started. By the way, a great, free smartphone app for tracking your habits is called “Good Habits”. You can enter up to 3 habits and set it up so that you get a daily reminder. Awesome!
Check off the first 1-2 habits you want to start with this week. Imagine if you were to incorporate even 1 new habit each month for a year – amazing things would happen!
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
This may seem like a strange place to start, but it’s so important that I’m putting it on the top of the list. Why? Let’s face it, when we’re tired we tend to make fewer healthy choices throughout the day and reach for the quick-fix energy boost we need, often in the form of sugar-filled options and processed snacks.
Lack of sleep disrupts circadian rhythms and can lead to inefficient body regulation of energy balance, metabolism and appetite. Abnormal leptin and ghrelin levels – hormones that tell your body it’s full – can go awry when your body isn’t fully rested.
To get more sleep, set a goal of what time you need to be in bed each night to get the 7-9 hours you need. Try it this week and see what difference you notice, both in how you feel and your appetite.
How many hours of sleep will you commit to each night this week?
I realize this is not always an easy thing to do. Most of us are juggling way too much and going through the day at warp speed, trying to get more and more done. By having a high stress level, not only is it harmful to your health, it’s harmful to your waistline as well.
When you are constantly under stress, hormone levels, like cortisol and insulin are elevated. The elevation of these 2 hormones can sabotage your weight loss efforts and actually cause weight gain.
‘Feeling stressed can create a wide variety of physiological changes, such as impairing digestion, excretion of valuable nutrients, decreasing beneficial gut flora populations, decreasing your metabolism, and raising triglycerides, cholesterol, insulin, and cortisol levels.’ – Mercola.com
So, while you may think you can “handle it” as far as your stress level goes, we aren’t meant to be under constant stress and it takes its toll. If you are doing everything right as far as diet and exercise but you’re under stress everyday, you’re not going to see or feel the results you want.
What are some ways you can reduce your stress level? Is there something you can start with this week or this month?
DON’T SKIP MEALS
It’s common for people to think that when they skip a meal, they are ‘saving’ calories. What happens though is it backfires and by mid afternoon or early evening, they’re starving. Then they feel like they have no ‘will power’. Our body needs fuel in the form of food to function, so when it’s deprived, it screams out for what it needs – food! Willpower is no match and then they end up feeling guilty. Skipping meals sets you up for failure and feeling guilty.
Eat 3 meals a day and healthy snacks when needed. You’ll notice you get through the day with more energy and when you plan your meals out during the day, you can make healthier choices. It’s much easier to make unhealthy choices when you need to eat something now and you just grab the closest thing you can find.
Plan ahead and be sure to not skip meals and you’re sure to notice a difference in how you feel and will usually end up eating fewer calories during the day.
TRADE OUT YOUR BEVERAGE
A really easy way to improve your health and lose weight is to trade out your soda (regular or diet), flavored coffee drinks or other calorie or artificially sweetened beverage.
For most of us, it’s just a habit we’ve formed. What is the trigger for you? Is it going by the cafeteria, fast food drive-thru or the stash in your fridge or pantry maybe?
Studies show that even diet soda increases our appetite. So, while the drink itself may be zero calories, you end up eating more food to go along with it.
If you’re addicted to the caffeine, you may want to start out cutting your consumption in ½ for a week or so and see how you do.
Decide what you can drink instead. You can try unsweetened iced tea, water with fresh fruit or unflavored carbonated water with a splash of fruit juice if you just need some fizz in your drink.
By trading out your sugar or chemical-filled beverage for water you’re giving your body what it needs – proper hydration.
EAT CARBS THAT FUEL YOUR BODY
Our body needs carbs, but just the right kind. Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, cereal and processed snacks are lacking in nutrients and leave us hungry again a short time later. Complex carbohydrates from foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes contain fiber and nutrients that fuel us and help us feel full longer.
If you can find it in nature (as opposed to a package with a long list of ingredients), it’s a pretty safe bet it’s a good choice.
CHOOSE HEALTHY FATS
FACT: Our body needs fat in order to function optimally.
The body utilizes dietary fat for energy, healthy hair, skin and nails, vitamin absorption and normal, everyday bodily functions.
Good fats promote several health benefits such as protection against heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression, as well as reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
Choose sources such as nuts, seeds, fish, avocados and extra virgin olive oil.
Another good source of healthy fat is coconut oil, which can be used for cooking and baking and it’s also great in smoothies.
The low fat diet craze caused most Australians to fear all sources of dietary fat, even the ones that we need to thrive. During this time, fat was replaced with sugar and other additives to give foods the flavor and consistency they needed. Unfortunately, this period of time was also when the rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease skyrocketed in this country.
A little goes a long way, so don't over do it. Just include a little fat at each meal to help you stay satiated longer.
FOCUS ON LEAN PROTEIN
Consuming enough protein is another way to improve your energy and stay satiated longer after your meal.
Our bodies require protein for cell renewal, stabilizing our blood sugar, and providing us the energy we need. Many foods contain protein, but some of the best sources include: fish, dairy, meat and eggs, as well as plant sources like seeds, nut and beans.
Be aware of your protein consumption and observe how you feel when you have more vs. when you have less to determine what works best for you. Also, be aware that quality matters – grass-fed beef and free-range chicken are healthier protein sources than feed-lot meats. Choose organic when possible for foods like dairy, eggs, peanut butter and soy products
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – HIPPOCRATES
Exercise actually gives us energy! Think about how you feel after sitting around for hours, versus how you feel when you’re up moving around. You just feel better when you’re active.
You don’t have to spend countless hours at the gym to reap significant benefits from exercise.
You can start with something simple like a 20-minute walk if you’re just getting back to an exercise routine. Look at ways you can add more activity into your day – a short walk during lunch, another walk after work perhaps. Maybe two 10-minute walks each day would work better for you, than one 20-minute walk.
Having an activity tracker like a Fitbit or pedometer is a great way to see how active you are and get an idea of how many calories you burn during the day. It’s fun and motivating to see how many steps you take in a day.
Find a friend or coworker that has similar goals and figure out something you can do together to help keep each other accountable.
Do you prefer to workout at home? Great! There are endless options of workouts to choose from for every fitness level. Options include exercise DVD’s, online workouts, fitness apps and more. Let me know if you need suggestions.
Join a gym. The gym is nice because your routine is not affected by the weather. If you can invest in a personal trainer to get you started, that can be helpful to boost your confidence and knowledge in how to use the machines as well as making sure you’re using proper form.
If you have taken a long break from exercising, don’t set yourself up for disappointment – have realistic expectations and be okay with feeling like a beginner again. It’s okay – just start where you are right now and build on it.
Note: Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
PREPARE MORE MEALS AT HOME
Cooking meals at home allows you to control the quality, calories and portion sizes, of your food. Do you notice how much food you’re served when you go to a restaurant? Crazy! When we have more food in front of us, we’ll eat more without realising it.
Bonus: preparing meals at home saves money too. Plan your week out in advance and see which nights you can cook at home. The crockpot becomes my best friend on busy days. I look at my calendar for the week ahead and whichever days are hectic, those are crockpot nights – easy breezy!
Keeping track of what you eat can be pretty easy thanks to all the handy apps we have available at our fingertips.
My favorite food tracking apps are MyFitnessPal and LoseIt. You’ll be surprised what you discover when you start tracking. Just remember, quality counts and it’s not just about the number of calories. 100 calories of cookies is not the same as 100 calories of veggies as far as nutrients and fueling your body is concerned.
For tracking, you also want to track the nutrients (or lack of nutrients) in foods. Reading the nutrition label is key. We have grown so accustomed to focus on the calories listed on the food label, but not the ingredients.
Look for foods that have the shortest list of ingredients and those that you recognize. If it’s a long list of ingredients with words that are difficult to pronounce or you don’t know what they are, put it back on the shelf and look for something else.
TIP: I like the ‘Fooducate’ app, which allows you to can scan the barcode on food packages and see what grade the food scores along with the reason for the grade. Very helpful!
“The key to making healthy decisions is to respect your future self. Honor him or her. Treat him or her like you would treat a friend or a loved one.” A.J. Jacobs
Decide on 1 or 2 healthy habits to start with today.
Start with the easiest one if you want.
When you start making choices based on the answer to the question “Is this going to feed my body what it truly needs?” instead of “What’s the quickest thing I can find right now” and ask yourself “Will this get me closer to or further from my goals?” on a regular basis, decisions shift, behaviors are changed and you will feel much better.
The best part is once you’re on the road to that healthier lifestyle, knowing it will be for the rest of your life, you WILL lose the weight and it won’t feel like deprivation.
It will feel like the new YOU.
I find that so often, people want to live a healthier life, but they just aren’t sure how to fit all the pieces together to make a plan or they don’t know where to begin. It can be quite overwhelming!
In those instances, it’s great to have a knowledgeable advisor, like a health coach, to walk you through a step‐by-step plan to implement healthier eating and lifestyle habits.
Contact me today to schedule your free Health Strategy Session to explore how I can assist you in achieving your health and fitness goals.
In health and happiness,
You can do this! I’m rooting for you!
Ready to take the next step – Check out our Joyful Mum Formula here - https://www.homeofhealthymums.com/joyful-mum-formula