We are almost halfway through January now, can you believe it? Are you sticking with those resolutions you set? I hope so! This year, when it comes to my health & weight loss, I’m really looking for some balance & keeping things simple. I’m not making drastic changes, I’m working on finding things I actually like to do in order to be more active, and I’m looking for healthier foods that I actually enjoy- this way I can stick with these changes for life. When I try to make drastic life changes, it ALWAYS backfires on me, and I NEVER stick with it. So, today I wanted to share 10 easy health changes you can make this year- easy, simple changes to make so that you can live a healthier life and still keep that balance. No drastic changes here.
1. Add one handful of veggies to lunch & dinner.
Whether you eat veggies now, or you eat none, like me, this is something simple you can do to eat healthier. I read once that it’s better to crowd out the unhealthy foods with healthy ones than to deprive yourself and completely avoid that unhealthy food you love. I’m making a point this year to still fix meals I like, but to watch my portions of the not so healthy stuff & to fill my plate mostly with veggies.
2. Snack Smart
When you reach for that snack halfway between lunch & dinner or even breakfast & lunch, grab something more nutritional than cookies or that bag of chips. Some of my favorite healthy snack swaps include cheese sticks, carrots, pretzels, almonds, etc…
3. Add activity throughout your day
As a stay at home mom, it became increasingly obvious to me how much I was simply sitting each day- and trust me, it’s a lot. I try to make a point to sit less- I stand while I fold laundry, and I try to get out of the house once each day- even if it’s just to walk around Target. If you can’t avoid the Target spending traps or the Starbucks line, this one may not be for you, but basically I’m just making an effort throughout my everyday to sit less and move more. Once the weather gets nice, I’m going to be getting outside with the dog & my little one at least twice a day- no sitting allowed.
4. Plan Ahead
Here I’m talking meals. You need a meal plan- the healthier, the better, but this one step (it takes me about 10 minutes once a week) ensures that we are not grabbing last minute food in the drive thru & that we have something mostly healthy planned at home to eat. If you are busy, try prepping foods ahead of time- such as cooking meat on the weekends & freezing to save yourself a step on busy week nights. Fail to plan, plan to fail. Plan your food ahead so you know what’s going on and you aren’t left making decisions when you are hungry and/or stressed.
5. Choose water
Thirsty? Choose water. If you have a bad soda or tea habit you are struggling to kick, start with replacing one beverage a day for water. I don’t say you need to cut out soda or tea completely, but if you keep increasing the number of drinks you replace for water as you get used to it, pretty soon it won’t be the main thing you drink. I don’t believe in quitting things cold turkey or completely eliminating things (this causes feelings of deprivation, which for me means eventual failure). Start with one swap for a week, then work your way up to two swaps the next week, and so on.
6. Keep Water Handy
With water, for me it’s out of sight out of mind. If there’s tea in the house, that’s what I’ll be drinking all day. We’ve stopped buying it by the gallon, and now I’ll get one occasionally from the gas station or a single from the store instead. However, without something sweet in the house to drink I can go all day without drinking anything and not even realize. I have to make a conscious effort to fill up my water bottle and keep it handy so I’m staying hydrated & getting my water intake for the day.
7. Find an “exercise” activity you enjoy
I hate the word exercise. It automatically brings up feelings of yuck, seriously. I like to think of these as fun active activities that I like to do and that I can do to get in some of that dreaded “exercise”. You need to find something you enjoy. I have been paying a gym membership for the last 6 months and I’ve only been once. Seriously, I hate it, so I don’t go. That’s not what’s best for me when it comes to trying to get in exercise, because it’s not something I will stick to. I prefer walking outside in my neighborhood or at the park any day, so I’m better off to plan activities like that. Bonus, at the park, little man gets to play once we’re done with our walk! I do also have a few fitness DVDs that I think are fun, so I try to make time for those. If it’s fun, I’m definitely more likely to do it- more frequently!
8. Take care of your mind + soul
One aspect of our well being that is often overlooked is our mind & our soul. This year I’m working on making time to be screen free where I can sit quietly by myself and just reflect and get all my thoughts straight. This can be hard with little ones running around, but try to do this either in the morning before they are up or at night after they are in bed. One of my favorite ways is a bubble bath, but I’m also looking to try yoga this year. You could also do meditation, there are so many ways, but I think it’s important to just be still and quiet and to take that time away from the hustle and bustle and craziness of life. Take 30 minutes a day for yourself.
9. Get more sleep
This one is so simple, but so many people struggle with it. Get more sleep. I know that my little one could be up as early as 6 on the average day, so I try to be sure that I am in bed by 10:30 or 11 every night. This doesn’t give me 8 hours, which is probably what I really need, but I’m working on it. My point is, make an effort to go to bed earlier. That tv show or your facebook feed are not as important as your health and well being. I know when I get adequate sleep my whole day is better, I’m less moody, etc… it has positive effects all the way around.
10. Love yourself
Don’t be so hard on yourself if you slip up with food, and make an effort to love yourself, just as you are right now. If you journal, write down one thing each night that you like about yourself & focus on that instead of all the little things you want to change. It’s so easy to get down on myself & feel bad about my weight every single day- I mean really, I have to look at myself every day. So, instead of focusing on that, I try to focus on the good things I’ve done recently and the areas of my life that I am successful in. Work on thinking positively & building yourself up instead of sticking with the negative self talk. It works!
I hope these tips are helpful & you found something that you can translate over into your everyday life. Just remember, long term changes are better than short fixes that don’t stick. If you are struggling with being overweight, you need to change your life, and that takes time. It’s not going to happen today, this week, or even this month. So, don’t stress out about it, find easy, simple swaps and health changes you can make, and just focus on making lifelong changes. Good luck with all of your goals this year!!