1. Find a method of exercise that you LOVE
For me its running and hiking, and more recently swimming and biking too. Maybe for you it’s yoga, or walking, or roller skating. Whatever it is, be sure to find SOMETHING active that you love that you can do on a consistent basis, 3-5 times each week for 30-60 minutes. It’s incredible how great you feel once you incorporate basic exercise into your life and it’s amazing how much you burn once you get off your feet and get moving. My goal for 2018 is to do more strength training- it’s amazing how much stronger and healthier I feel when I do strength training consistently.
2. Eat extra healthy for non-social meals
As much as I would love to eat like the Queen of England for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the reality is that I’m driving to work during breakfast and wolfing down whatever’s available for me during a 5 minute lunch break. When it comes to dinner I try to create something that’s a step above the rest, because it’s the only meal of the day where I’m not on a timetable and it’s my FAVORITE meal of the day because my husband and I *usually* chow down on this one together. So what do my first two meals of the day look like? Well lately, I’ve been on a real big green smoothie kick. Other times I love to enjoy a healthy homemade muffin or a slice of peanut butter toast. Lunch is usually a deli sandwich of some variety or hard boiled eggs with a piece of fruit (#fancy), or often times leftovers from the night before.
3. SAY NO TO MEDIOCRE FOOD
I can’t emphasize this point enough. Stop eating things just because they’re there. Or they’re free. This can range from dishes at family gatherings to work parties to church functions to the free samples at Costco. Say no to box brownies! Say no to chips with preservative packed nacho cheese. Say no to waxy Dunford Donuts (unless that’s a treat that you love). Say no to the free sushi samples at Smiths. Life’s too short to eat bad food. Make those calories count and go big or go home. If I’m going to eat a donut it better be DELICIOUS.
4. Cut back where you can
I’ll never be the person who can consistently maintain anything along the lines of paleo, low-carb, whole 30, you name it. For me, I have learned that options like these are usually a dead end (but major props to those who can do it!). I’ll stick to them for a day or two and eventually burn out. Something I’ve tried to do in the last year or two that has worked for me is make changes that are sustainable- changes that I realistically feel could be maintained for the rest of my life. For example, I am no longer a “soda drinker”. This means that unless it’s a holiday (birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.), I don’t drink soda. Trust me when I say that I’m a huge fan of Diet Coke (don’t forget the squeeze of lime), but it’s something I can certainly live without. For some this would literally be impossible, but for me, I can be happy and satisfied with only a handful of sodas per year. The key to this tip is choosing something you can cut back on and stick with it long term. Maybe it’s not eating past a certain time. Maybe it’s no refined sugars. Maybe it’s eating protein heavy dinners. Or maybe it’s swapping your water for copious amounts of Diet Coke.
5. Learn how to cook delicious healthy food
It’s an exciting moment for me in the kitchen when I make something delicious and, whether by choice or coincidence, realize it’s nutritious as well. I’ve found Pinterest to be exceptionally helpful with this one and have enjoyed exploring new salad recipes, how to use my spiralizer, and other basic methods to keep my meals more healthy but still delicious. Sometimes people assume that I only like things that are soaked in butter and deep fried twice over- false. Although I’ve definitely eaten my fair share of all things deliciously unhealthy, I’ve certainly acquired a palate for healthy meals too.
6. Modify your order
This suggestion comes quite naturally to me, but it’s surprising how much healthier you can make a meal with just a few simple modifications. I ALWAYS ask for dressing on the side and usually end up dipping my fork in the dressing and then eating my salad. This stems from the fact that I’m not a huge dressing person, but I’m a believer that there is a difference between consuming half versus the entire container of that Cafe Rio creamy cilantro dressing container. Other common modifications for healthier meals include subbing certain sides for vegetables or salad, asking for items that are grilled instead of fried, requesting light spreads on high fat items such as mayo or butter, and choosing foods that are leafy, green, and fibrous.
7. Educate yourself
Although we can go into the details of what are the best foods to eat, which types of diets will supplement the body type you have, etc. the bottom line is that food translates into energy, and what isn’t expended is stored. You can use basic calculators to see what your caloric intake should look like daily including proteins, carbs, and fats. On a good day I’ll have a general awareness of what my caloric intake should be and keep that in the back of my mind as I’m making decisions throughout the day. If I know I’m going out for a delicious BBQ dinner and then to the movies (huuuuuuge popcorn fan here) later that evening, I’ll most likely put in the extra effort for a modest breakfast and lunch. Also look at your nutrition facts and beware of pre-packed foods with foreign ingredients or excessive amounts of sugars, preservatives, etc. When it comes to ingredients, less is always more.
8. Go halfsies with someone
A lot of these goals are easier said than done and when it comes down to it, who wants to eat salads for the rest of their lives? Not me. If you want the best of both worlds split a “more healthy” and a “less healthy” menu item with a close friend or significant other. Take note of portions and remember that you can *always* order more food. This is something I’m personally trying to work on- not getting such big eyes when I haven’t eaten in hours or when everything looks so good that I ordereverythigandanythingnonthemenuahhhhhhhhh. Along with this point goes portion control. Learn to know when enough is enough and don’t push a meal until you’re uncomfortably full.
9. Take Note of How You Feel
I’m a big fan of the concept of intuitive eating. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Observe how certain foods make you FEEL. For me I have learned that when I’m focusing on how I feel rather than obsessing over calories, I am so much more likely to make healthy decisions. Don’t get me wrong there are certainly foods that just need to be deep fried and dredged in batter, or coated with sugary frosting. But for heavens sake if you know that chimichangas make you feel like garbage every single time (and if you’re like me and you don’t even really like them) opt for a taco or tostada instead.
10- Choose your lifestyle and own it
I recently saw a diagram that showed about 4 or 5 different body types with written descriptions of corresponding lifestyles with each body type. So obvious but SUCH a reality check on the fact that we all have choices and consequences. Will I ever enjoy spending 3 hours at the gym 6 days a week? No. Will I ever be able to finish Whole 30? Probably not. Will I ever have rock hard abs and a size zero waist? Never. Because for me I have made conscious lifestyle decisions keeping in mind what is realistic for me and what I truly derive joy from. For me that looks a fresh bowl of pasta at 8 pm on a Friday with friends or baking cookies on a Sunday night. It also looks like going on a run 3 or 4 times a week and an occasional hike. We all have different lifestyles and things that bring us joy and the key, I believe, is “acting for ourselves and not being acted upon”. Love your body, see life as a gift, determine what brings you joy and own it.