In order to create change, you have to make the decision that you want to change. Here are some of the tips that work for me and my clients; they can help you start living a healthier life right away.
1. Replace one "bad" with one "good."
Every day, pick out one "bad" food and replace it with a "good" food. Instead of french fries at lunch, have a side salad or veggie. Instead of a cupcake and sugary coffee at 3PM, have a small fruit salad and a cup of tea. After you do this for a few days, start replacing two "bad" with two "good." You'll be eating healthier in no time!
2. Get strong.
When you strength train, your body continues to burn calories for the next 24-36 hours (as opposed to just cardio, where you only burn for that duration). Strength training is vital to keep muscles strong, stoke your metabolism and create a leaner body. Add at least two days a week of weight training or body resistance exercises to your routine. If you're unsure how to begin, consider investing in a personal trainer for a few sessions to show you the ropes.
3. Shop smarter.
If that bag of Doritos isn't there, you can't eat that bag of Doritos. Clean out your fridge, clean out your cupboards and set yourself up for success. Stock up on healthier options when you shop for food.
Avoid getting to that ravenous "feed me" state where you can't stop eating. Try eating six smaller, well-balanced mini-meals instead of three larger ones. Use a smaller plate, chew slowly and put your fork down between bites.
5. Go for exercise bursts.
You can achieve amazing results (without spending hours at the gym) with shorter, higher intensity "bursts". Even 4-6 minutes burns calories, tones muscle and helps condition you like an athlete. Try for 2-4 bursts throughout the day at least 5 days a week.
6. Put the brakes on after dinner.
Try to identify why you're reaching for those mindless munchies in the evening. Learning what the triggers are can help you stop. Are you bored? Is it just a habit? Did you not eat a healthy, balanced dinner? Try a cup of peppermint tea first and make sure you're set up with healthier snack options.
7. Take your breathing seriously.
Our breath is our life. Health benefits when we do proper breathing include better digestion, better nervous system function and deeper relaxation. Be aware and tune into your breath throughout the day.
8. Get busy.
Sex has some awesome health benefits. It relieves stress, boosts immunity, strengthens your heart and can burn up to 140 calories per half hour. (That's if you get really busy!) Keep the sex spark alive for your relationship as well as your health.
9. Manage stress in real time.
The effect of repetitive stress wreaks havoc as toxic hormones flood our body. Long ago, we needed this "flight or fight" mode to survive. Today this response is more likely due to everyday stresses like conflicts with a partner or rushing to complete a deadline.
When a stressful situation presents itself, remove yourself as quickly as possible. Use breathing to calm yourself, count to ten, go for a walk, do what you need to do to stay calm. Taking a few moments during the day to meditate helps "train" you to implement calming techniques you can draw upon when needed.
10. Create a bedtime ritual.
Just like our parents did for us and we do for our children, creating a simple bedtime routine ensures an easier time falling asleep, staying asleep and better quality sleep. Aim to retire at the same time every night. Turn off all screens and dim lights 1-2 hours before bedtime. Have a relaxing bath, listen to gentle music, massage lotion or oil onto your body and make yourself a cup of chamomile tea. You'll help reduce stress (fighting that nasty belly fat), depression, decrease inflammation and you'll look and feel better.
Set yourself up for success and view positive change as a gift to yourself, a way to acknowledge and honor your body, mind and spirit. Try some of these suggestions and kickstart your healthier life today.