Through chatting with people – friends, family, coworkers, strangers on the bus – it seems that the general idea in order to lose weight and get in shape is to cut foods like carbohydrates, sugars, fats, etc. out of your diet. While this isn’t totally untrue, it puts a huge burden on you and can be incredibly overwhelming. In addition to cutting out all the “bad” stuff, people tend to think they need to spend hours in the gym doing cardio and lifting weights, and this puts even more pressure on you. While exercising is important, it doesn’t have to take up hours of your day every day, and it doesn’t have to be done in a gym. This blog provides tips and advice to make small changes to your daily routine that will make a big impact on your health.
One of the many points that stuck with me during my Precision Nutrition certification was that if you have food in your home, healthy or unhealthy, eventually you or someone you love will eat it. And with that being said, buying more whole foods and fewer processed foods means you and the other people who live in your house will be eating more whole foods and fewer processed foods. This will help to cut down on your caloric intake and will increase the amount of nutrients you’re consuming. It also automatically aids in cutting added sugar from your diet as well as “unhealthy” carbohydrates and “bad” fats. (I use the terms “unhealthy” and “bad” loosely and to save the time it would take to dive into great detail about carb and fat sources.) As well as consuming more whole and fewer processed foods, eating appropriate portions is a great way to cut calories without calorie counting. We have a tendency to eat whatever is in front of us, even after we’re full, so filling your plate with only what you need can benefit a lot of us.
So how do you buy more whole and fewer processed foods? It will take some thinking and planning: What days will you have time to cook? What will you cook? What will you need to buy at the store? When will you do your grocery shopping? Once you’ve shopped, you’ll need to prep the food for healthy snacks and meals. You can prepare all your meals over the weekend or whenever you have time and separate and refrigerate/freeze them accordingly. Keeping healthy, easily accessible snacks handy and having meals on hand that have already been prepped and just need to be cooked or warmed up keeps us from reaching for unhealthy snacks or going through the drive thru on the way home from work. Keep healthy snacks at home as well as at work and on the go.
As previously mentioned, adding exercise to your daily routine is a daunting task for many, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re not used to exercising, start small – take a 10 minute walk every day. This can be done in the morning when you go out to get the paper, parking far enough from work to provide you with a 10 minute jaunt, before you sit down to eat your healthy lunch, when you get home from work, or after you’ve had dinner and washed the dishes. Or really any other time you have 10 minutes available. The goal is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, and once you’ve gotten in the routine of taking one 10 minute walk, you can increase that to two and then three 10 minute walks every day, and BOOM – 30 minutes of daily exercise. You can of course add other forms of exercise as well – lifting weights at home or at the gym, walking or biking to work, taking an exercise class at a local gym, doing an exercise DVD at home – the possibilities are endless.
Not all healthy habits revolve around what we eat or how much exercise we get – our environment also plays a huge role in our health. Think about what meal time looks like for you: Are you eating in front of a TV? By yourself or with others? On the go while you’re driving the kids to sports practice? Do what you can to adjust your schedule (meal prepping ahead of time can help with this) to be able to allow at least 20 minutes to sit down at the table, away from the TV, with your family or friends to enjoy your meal.
What sort of people are you spending time with? At work we don’t always get a choice of who we’re around, but in our social lives, if we surround ourselves with supportive people who have similar goals and lifestyles as us, it will be easier to make healthy, positive changes in our lives. It’s a lot harder to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods when you’re hanging out with friends who are constantly going through the drive thru and meeting up for happy hour every week. Joining a gym or taking an exercise class every week is a great way to meet people who have an interest in staying healthy.
These tips just begin to scratch the surface of changes you can make to your daily routine that will help lead to a healthier lifestyle. Making one or two small changes at a time can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed and defeated and will lead to success. Surrounding yourself with healthy foods and supportive people will make these changes much easier, and if you have trouble staying motivated, ask a friend or family member to join you in making these changes with you.
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A