Being my healthiest self has always been a top priority for me. As I get older what that means and requires has changed a little but the same basic principles that have kept me in shape and properly fueled really haven’t. I have zero desire to be a body builder, nutritionist, or the fittest girl in the room. My goal is simply to feel great when I wake up and to be happy with what I see when I look in the mirror. At 28, these things require a little more effort and a few less cheats than they did at 25 but that’s been a blessing in disguise because it’s also required me to really figure out what makes me feel my best and also, my worst. Here’s a look at the 10 healthy habits that help keep me on track:
1) KNOW WHAT YOU’RE PUTTING IN!
Can’t figure out why you can’t drop those couple of pounds or why you can’t seem to shake a reoccurring afternoon slump? Really know what you’re fueling your body with and I’ll bet you solve both. It worked for me. I truly spent almost a year losing/gaining a pesky 7lbs and only managed to beat this when I decided to track everything I ate for a whole week. I didn’t do this for weight loss purposes but because I’d started feeling a little sluggish and wanted to figure out the culprit. After a week of tracking my diet (without tailoring it! If you change it because you’re writing it down you won’t find the true issue…) it was SO clear that too many carbs were my issue. Now, I’m not talking about potato chips and white bread, that has never been my diet…I’m talking quinoa, brown rice, and wheat pastas. I was having way too much of technically “good” foods. I’ve always been into distance running so a high carb diet had never presented an issue but over the last year my miles have reduced and when my carbs didn’t, it became an issue. After 2 weeks of cutting carbs, I felt like my old, energetic self and within a month I had lost 10lbs without really trying. Please DON’T take this as me endorsing a low carb diet for everyone! I’m just saying this is what’s right for my body and I figured this out by really tracking what I was fueling my body with. I’ll bet if you really track your diet you’ll find your culprit, whatever that may be, too.
2) DON’T OBSESS OVER THE SCALE BUT BE AWARE OF IT.
In world of eating disorders and low self esteem, stepping on the scale frequently has unfairly gotten a bad rep. A typical habit of healthy people is to know their body and know when it’s changing. I by no means encourage anyone to obsess over an exact lb goal BUT in order to stay on track you need to keep yourself in check. Doesn’t really matter if that’s a weekly weigh in or a weekly wear of your skinny jeans. What matters is that you see change happening before you feel rough and your clothes are too tight. Maintaining it is always easier than getting it back.
3) HEALTHY PEOPLE SWEAT. PERIOD.
If you don’t have a regular workout schedule you’re doing yourself a huge injustice, physically & mentally. Outside of the obvious fact that excercise = calories burned, you’ll benefit from an increased metabolism, a clearer mind, exercise leads to confidence in what YOU can accomplish, and perhaps best of all, exercise creates endorphins…who doesn’t want to be happier?!
I’ll skip the Elle Woods quote just this once.
4) MORE PROTEIN, LESS CARBS.
Eat meals of substance. Don’t be scared of fats. The key to controlling your diet is feeling satisfied not deprived. If you’re eating good fats that are filling, you’re likely eating less. Protein will keep you full and help you skip craving from blood sugar dips that come along with high sugar/high carb choices.
5) MORE WATER, LESS SODA.
I can’t say it enough…water, water, water! Hydration is a key component to a healthy, fit body. Hydration reduces headaches (dehydration can cause them…), keeps your energy level up, and keeps those crazy cravings in check (it’s common to mistake dehydration for hunger). This is one area I definitely get on a soap box about BUT disclaimer…I can’t drink carbonation without feeling like a sick, bloated mess so I skip soda all around and have for years so I struggle to understand the soda addictions that I so frequently encounter . For this reason I simply say, know what you’re putting in your body…diet soda may be calorie free but it’s pretty freighting if you actually look up what’s in there. (If you haven’t, I dare you.) if you still love your “fill in brand of choice” after reading it, go for it but like everything else, moderation is key.
6) MORE TEA, LESS WINE.
Soda may mean nothing to me but I LOVE good, red wine. While it’s fairly synonymous with health benefits (in moderation!) it’s also packing 100+ calories a glass and a ton of sugar. For me, skipping the wine for a glass of unsweetened tea has proved to be a great diet choice. I still enjoy my wine on the right day but for me, it’s a diet pitfall that leads to cravings of bad carbs that are otherwise easy for me to skip. So for this reason…more tea, less wine!
7) NOTHING IS OFF LIMITS!
I’m 100% against the idea of “off limits” foods and believe saying “NEVER have this…” leads to failure. Healthy people practice self control and don’t deprive themselves. Cheat meals are necessary on occasion, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for a seriously disgruntled attitude toward food. It’s like telling a child not to touch something. It just makes you want it more. Its about limits, portion control, and knowing what is going in and how it effects YOU. Basically…I may practice more protein less carbs but I certainly haven’t sworn off cheese grits. Everything in moderation is key. I wouldn’t recommend eating a “cheat” meal everyday but don’t deprive yourself from a weekly burger or whatever your meal is. Remember, one bad meal won’t make you fat just like one good meal won’t make you skinny.
Don’t skip it. It’s common sense, seriously. Eat breakfast…every day. It’s the building block of your day and sets the tone for your nutritional intake. Need another reason? Statistics show that breakfast skippers tend to weigh more, they consume more sugary drinks, and eat more high calorie snacks.
Sleep regulates your metabolism so ensuring that you’re getting enough rest and quality rest is crutical. Routine is huge. Getting yourself in a good habit of a “turn off” time and a fairly consistent wake up time is a good habit not only for your metabolism but for your overall mind state. A good night’s sleep goes a long way for your mood and clarity. Set a turn off time to whatever is going on in your world and get an appropriate amount of sleep. It’ll all be there when you wake up and if you’re rested you’ll be far more equipped to take it on. Think about it, sleep deprived people not only tend to be sick more often, they’re not typically who is leading the pack at anything. Instead they tend to scattered and foggy…neither of which lead to efficient actions or happy days. Healthy people put focus on their rest and rested people are happier people.
10) SNACK AWAY!
Don’t avoid snacks, embrace them! Planning for mid-morning and afternoon snacks help you control your hunger through out the day so you can avoid getting home from work and eating everything in sight or caving in and eating a donut or other unhealthy break room snack that may be lurking around. Organization is key. Plan ahead and have healthy snacks on hand!
Are your habits helping making you the healthiest you???