In order to begin a healthy lifestyle, one needs to start somewhere and start small. It seems that people feel they need to make big changes to see big results, but big results will happen with small steps. So whether you are a former athlete and returning to play, post pregnancy, or just looking to become healthier there are many routes you can take to begin your healthier lifestyle.
A former college friend of mine contacted me a few months ago and wanted to know how to change his eating habits. He informed me he still ate like a college lacrosse player, but was not playing the sport anymore, and therefore, had packed on the pounds the last 18 years since graduating. I have a few friends who have given birth in the last year and are looking to return to pre-pregnancy weight, and a few friends who are just looking to incorporate healthier habits into their lives. I am sure many of us can relate.
I remember when I was younger my father would come home and eat a handful of M&M’s before dinner. I recall my mother pointing out to him that it was not setting a good example for us kids, so he switched his daily habit to a handful of peanuts. Almonds would have been a better choice, but it was a start. Simply swapping out one thing for another is a good start. For instance, if you eat a bowl of ice cream every night, swap it out for some Greek yogurt and a handful of fresh berries. If you are looking for more of an ice cream feel, blend together the Greek yogurt and frozen berries (or fresh berries and a handful of ice cubes). Instead of reaching for potato chips when you are bored or looking for a snack, a better option might be some baby carrots and hummus or a handful of almonds. Filling your body with nutrient dense food instead of empty calories will fill you up and satisfy you.
When cooking meals you want to think about variety and moderation. Your plate should be full of color and half your plate should be fruits and/or vegetables. If you are a big meat eater, try making one night vegetarian. Instead of making a salad with iceberg or romaine lettuce, try baby spinach or even kale. We tend to overeat in the United States. Try switching out your regular size dinner plate (usually around 11″) for a salad plate (8″). Consume water with your meals and try placing the fork down in between bites to practice eating slower. You’ll find that you reach fullness quicker with these tips.
Take a look at your fridge, freezer, and pantry. What do you see? Throw out (or don’t buy anymore) junk food. Potato chips. Candy. Cookies. Ice cream. Sugar cereals. Overly processed foods. Even your salad dressings could be made simpler by either making your own with just a few ingredients. (I will include my favorite below.) Squeezing lemon on your salad tastes great and is a much healthier option than salad dressings with multiple ingredients some of which I can’t even pronounce! Fill your fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables. When you get them home, wash and cut them up so you always have something ready to snack on.
One way I have learned to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my lifestyle is by the way of smoothies. I toss some frozen berries, baby spinach, Greek yogurt, almond milk, and chia seed in the blender. Sometimes I’ll add a few chocolate chips. Delicious! Experiment with different combinations and come up with your favorite.
Exercising might be the hardest thing to start. Start with an easy walk with the family after dinner a few times a week or go for a quick walk around the block during your lunch break. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. If you have exercise videos like P90X or T25, for instance, make it a point to complete at least 3 days of the workout or even just half of the video for the day. Don’t be discouraged that you can’t complete the program to its fullest. It’s a start. It’s better than sitting on the couch moaning about it. At least you are doing something and making the effort. It does get easier. Soon it will become a habit.
Since joining a gym last August, I make it a point to work out about 5x a week for an hour or more. I have more energy. I sleep better. We head to Florida soon for a week and am already planning on morning walks/runs to continue with my exercise habit. I could take the week off, but I know that when I return starting again will be painful……physically and mentally!
So start somewhere. Start small. Soon you will see small changes that will eventually lead to big results!
1 chopped garlic clove
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Put into a small container and shake. This will last for 2 weeks in the fridge.