Living a healthy lifestyle isn't about eating well "some of the time" or being active once a week. Health is a LIFESTYLE and many people think that being healthy requires drastic changes..... at the end of the day, drastic changes will only scare you away from this lifestyle. It is important to start with small steps. Once you master your initial goals, you can continue to make progress towards a more nutritious way of life. I believe health is always a work in progress!
So, here are some ideas on goals to set to begin your new way of life!
-"Go Brown"- Look at all of the grains you eat: cereal, pasta, rice, bread, bagels, english muffins, etc. How many of your grains are "whole grain" or "whole wheat?" Strive to make the switch to wheat bread, wheat pasta, or brown rice. Virtually every carb sold in stores now-a-days has the option to be whole grain/wheat, so make the switch! My favorite bread option is Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins (only 100 calories).
-How many calories do you drink? It is amazing how quickly calories can add up from beverages alone... plus, many of them are LOADED with sugar=bad. Do you drink a lot of soda? Orange juice? Gatorade? Coffee? First, start with making steps to cut soda out of your diet (unless you make it a "once in a while treat"). Next, try to cut out one sugary beverage for a glass of water. Have a glass of water with breakfast instead of orange juice every day, and watch how much sugar is in your coffee... gradually cut back on it!
-Control your portions. The number one thing I have heard from trainers is to switch from 3 big meals per day, to 5-6 smaller meals per day. This will help to control your portions, will keep your metabolism going all day, and may prevent you from overeating. Watch your serving sizes, especially when at restaurants!
-Switch one snack for a fruit or vegetable! In today's society it is so easy to grab a bag of chips or a cookie for snack. In reality, this won't keep you full for long, and definitely won't contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle. Start by switching one of your snacks to a fruit (apple, banana, serving of strawberries) or a vegetable (carrots and hummus, peppers) and you have already cut out a few hundred calories from your day!
-Count your calories before ingesting them. By looking at the calorie count of what you're putting into your body, you may realize that you want to find a healthier alternative! Instead of eating 420 calories of Poptarts, you can eat a 90 calorie apple and feel just as full!
-Don't like the gym? Start with 1-2 walks a week, and gradually increase the distance or days per week.
-Find a workout buddy! Like I always say, having someone to rely on is so helpful in getting yourself to the gym, even when you are completely dreading it!
-Plan your "cheat meals" and get super excited for them! Part of a well-balanced lifestyle includes indulging once in a while. Personally, if I refrained from sweets for weeks or months on end, I would ultimately go insane from deprivation and have the WORST binge. It is good to reward yourself for your hard work of dieting or exercising, in moderation of course. I always plan awesome "cheat meals" so that I have something to look forward to. Last week's cheat meal was a nice serving of cookie dough ice cream... and boy oh boy was it worth it :)
-Don't pay for a "fad" diet! Buying diet products can be SO misleading.... stick to the basics of eating and cooking and remember that you don't need to pay any extra money for delivered meals, special foods, any type of pill, etc.
-Bored? DONT pick up that bag of chips! Try a piece of gum, it might satisfy your craving to chew on something when you're not actually hungry! Especially while you're watching TV... sometimes I notice I'm not hungry but I just want to "snack". This can lead to overeating, so try a sweet piece of gum and see if it helps :)
-Don't eliminate one specific food group (ex- no carbs, no fats, etc). Try to cut back on each group! A major problem Americans face is overeating, which can lead to weight gain. Instead of depriving your body of specific nutrients, try to cut back on each group a little bit. That way, you will still lead a balanced lifestyle without overeating!
How does that sound? Not too bad, right? Start with a few of these suggestions and gradually work your way to adapting to more and more of them. Remember, drastically changing your diet typically isn't very successful. Hope this helps!
YOU CAN DO IT!