2012 is well underway, resolutions may still be in full force (maybe not) and the holiday bulge may still be hanging around (ouch!). People tend to make lofty New Year’s goals to be healthier, but aren’t successful because they aren’t specific enough, too rigid to achieve and stay on track, or maybe you just haven’t followed through.
For many women, all it takes is one candy bar or one bad meal and the rest of the day, or even the week is ruined. We beat ourselves up over the one lapse. Instead look at the big picture and know that we can get back on track. Break it down and know that the small things can make a dramatic difference in your quest for a healthier you. Try these simple day to day tips – the small things will add up to something big!
- Drink more water – This one is crucial, adding more water to your diet alone can do so much good for your body. It also assists with weight loss. Drinking 96 ounces of water daily decreases fluid retention, improves liver function, appetite decreases, metabolic functions improve (more energy to burn more calories) and blood volume is maintained. Simple fix: keep a large bottle of water with you at all times because once you actually feel thirsty, dehydration has already set in. Mood swings and headaches are many times just simple hydration issues.
- Unhealthy munchies – Stay away from the unhealthy snack trays and candy bowls. You know what we’re talking about! If you’re hungry, eat something healthier – try not to pick at something just because you’re stressed or bored. Simple fix – remember to eat all your daily meals – then keep healthy snacks with you during the day. Here’s a tip on an ideal day; breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack. By keeping regular eating habits you are less likely to be hungry and go for those unhealthy treats. A handful here and a bite there can add a lot of empty calories/sugar to your day. If you feel comfortable with it, keep a food journal so you have an idea of just how many calories you take in and when.
- Think. Don’t eat it if it’s not worth it – There are some days a girl feels the need to splurge! Please make certain it’s something you really want to ensure that it was worth it so you don’t have that guilty “why did I eat that” feeling.
- Soda and Sugary Drinks – We’ll do complete stories on ‘sugars’ in the near future. A diet high in sugar contributes to weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which raise the risk of heart disease, warns the Cleveland Clinic. It’s added in soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and even added in many juices! Don’t get us started on foods! Surveys have also found that the average American consumes ~ 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar every day. Health gurus say we should really be drinking/eating a fraction of that amount. The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 5 teaspoons (20 grams) of sugar per day, for adult men, it’s 9 teaspoons (36 grams) daily, and for children, it’s 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day. A 12 ounce Coke has 39 grams of sugar as a reference point. We will have a forum soon on label reading! We are not saying to BAN everything – what we are saying is to be informed, aware and adjust accordingly. Everyone enjoys a sugary treat once in a while!
- Vegetables – Veggies are good for you. Great source of fiber which is beneficial to be heart healthy, lower risk of colon cancer and keeps you “regular”! An easy fix suggestion is to substitute veggies for fries. Or ‘bake’ the fries! We all have heard about what fried foods can do to us! Try adding servings of veggies to every meal. Add colors, experiment and have fun with it. The fresher the better!
- Portion Size – Yes, it is true – America has the largest meal and packaged portion sizes in the world! For example and let’s be honest here, we know candy bars and other sugary treats aren’t getting us any closer to our goals so if you’re going to eat it, PLEASE stay away from the super-size, king-size, etc. and go with the bite size. Use smaller plates for meals, do some food research, learn label reading and have some fun with it! Many restaurants are famous for huge portion sizes! Make one order ‘dinner for two’ like we many times do! Heck we even order off the kid’s menu if they’ll let us! You can be sensible and creative when eating out!
- The Great Chocolate Debate – Look for a higher cocoa content – 70% and higher are the healthiest. The higher levels provide more nutrients, antioxidants etc. Less is more with this type of beautiful stuff! Slow, small bites are much more enjoyable and satisfying.
- Try keeping a meal log – Always at a loss what to plan for dinner every night, run out of time to fix dinner so just stop for fast food? Take a few minutes on the weekend and plan what you’re going to have for dinner each week. Plan grocery shopping around that and have everything on hand so you can feel more confident and in control all week!
- Move Around – Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Seriously just do it! Many people are at desk jobs all day. Take 5 minute fitness breaks! Take the chair away, walk around or even squat in place. If your company has flex time or a rewards system for staying healthy, tap into as many of those resources as you can! If not – ask about leading a “walking’ break or meeting or find some other creative ‘moving’ solution! The more you move, the more you can do! Once again and back to the main topic – the small things will add up to big things. Use your imagination. One size does not fit all! What may seem to be small improvements for one may be HUGE for others so it’s all about finding what works for you! Pick one small improvement that you can work on per day/week and focus on achieving that goal then continue on each week. Leading a healthy lifestyle is most definitely a marathon not a sprint, so work towards improvements that you can continue on long term not for a quick fix.
I hope this helps with remembering that small improvements, one step at a time, really are the way to go. We are never going to get everything right, but we can adjust and have lots of fun with it. The point is to move your body and put good stuff in it! Laugh, have fun and play like a kid!
Peace Love Run ~ Sara McCauley, Energy Director