Are you having troubles getting started with leading a healthy lifestyle? Are you finding it overwhelming to know where you should start? Keep reading. This blog is tailored to you, the beginner. We know that eating a healthy and well balanced diet paired with physical activity is what will classify us as leading a healthy life, however we often have a difficult time knowing where to begin.
Changing everything about your routine at once may work for a few days however, we find sometimes “too much too fast” can lead to an individual becoming overwhelmed, discouraged, and then finding themselves back at square one. Small gradual changes over time will build to a big overall change, which will elicit permanent results.
So where do we start? I recommend choosing one or the other first and slowly building onto it. Let’s discuss changes we can make for both aspects of healthy living.
Transitioning to a Healthy Diet:
Are you a morning coffee drinker? Try limiting yourself to one cup of coffee a day with whichever sweeteners you like. If you are a 2-3 cup of coffee type of person, treat yourself to your regular coffee, and for the remainder only drink it black. This will eliminate the amount of sugar and unwanted calories from your diet. Eventually we would want to transition to having just a black coffee, or a fruit smoothie to start your day.
If you tend to grab whole or 2% milk at the grocery store, try 1% or skim milk. Milk in general is packed with vitamin D, A, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B-12 however whole or 2% milk have a higher saturated fat content vs. 1% or skim. Saturated fats are dangerous to the body as they are the “unhealthy fats” and can lead to further weight gain, and put you at a higher risk of having cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, etc. Eventually you can transition to Almond or Coconut Milk which is less than half the calories compared to other forms of milk.
Switch from white to whole wheat. White bread, pasta or rice have been refined which leads to many nutrients being processed out of the food product. Having whole wheat will contain all of the original nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein and fiber. Another great substitution for pasta is spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is jam packed with antioxidants, vitamin A and C, Potassium, Folate, as well as Omega-3 and 6.
Stay away from meats higher in fat content such as beef, ham, salami, pepperoni, and replace it with chicken, ground turkey, salmon or tuna. These are higher in protein and lower in fats.
Replace creamy salad dressings with vinaigrette dressings to lower the amount of unwanted calories.
Eat more frequently with smaller portion sizing:
This is crucial to your metabolic system. If you eat every 2-3 hours, your metabolic and digestive system will always be working to process food and will be ready to digest the next meal that is coming. This makes your metabolic and digestive systems more efficient at processing food, which will increase the speed at which your metabolic system works.
Waiting hours and hours without a meal, and then filling up causes your body to be in a starvation mode. In starvation mode, since your body has to go a long duration without a meal, it will store the meals you do intake as fat. While some may think eating less will help them lose weight, this is not the way to do it.
Drink more water! Water is crucial for all systems of the body.
Again, do not put the pressure onto yourself to make all of these changes at once. We want to ensure that you are successful in this transition. Make the goal of changing 2-3 habits a week.
Transitioning into Exercise
People often face several barriers when approaching exercise and incorporating it into their daily lives. Whether that barrier be time, money, or energy levels, we have the solution for you. Try starting off by walking for 15 minutes a day, 4 songs worth. This accounts for only 1% of your day! Make a playlist of your favorite songs, invite a friend or family member along with you to catch up on your day, or walk somewhere with a beautiful view.
The important thing here is that it needs to be enjoyable, or you won’t have the motivation to stick with it. Start incorporating at home exercises that only require body weight such as a squat, lunge, wall push up, or a chair dip. If you have stairs at home, try side stepping up them, taking a double step, or even jogging up them to get your heart rate up. The end goal is to progress to doing 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise/week which is 30 minutes of activity, 5 days a week (2% of your day ).
If you work a desk job, try standing every 20 minutes to stretch out your legs and hips. Sitting for too long leads to very tight muscles of the hip and can result in low back pain. You can try to incorporate exercises and stretches at your desk to do as a way to transition as well. Encourage others to join in with you!
Once you feel comfortable enough to enter a gym setting, make sure to give yourself positive affirmations as to why this is going to help improve your life. Get a new workout outfit you feel good in. Meet with a certified personal fitness trainer to determine what type of programming will be best suited to your goals.