The countdown to Easter has started around our house. This weekend we enjoyed some Easter parties and egg hunts and while I haven’t loved Easter in years, I’m really enjoying celebrating with our girls. This is the first year Isla can really participate in and enjoy some of the traditions associated with Easter and with so little time between St. Patrick’s Day and Easter this year, we’re really cramming in the festivities around our house right now.
Along with the parties and egg hunts, we dared to dye Easter eggs with two under two. And surprisingly, Josie was the first to spill a cup of dye. It’s fun starting traditions with our girls. With this fun activity we ate a simple and toddler friendly dinner of baked chicken tenders, tomato salad, and carrot sticks.
In my last post, I talked about how it’s all of these small changes that help create the larger and more amazing accomplishments and transformations. So, today I thought it would be helpful to talk about some of the small changes you can make today to live a healthier life.
A lot of the time, when someone is trying to get healthy they give up because it feels too hard and unrealistic. People think they have to do everything right to be healthy and when that seems overwhelming, they give up. And I think if I thought I needed to exercise for an hour every day and eat nothing but salads that I would give up too.
Thinking about the results I’ve seen firsthand over the last several years, I often think my clients who experience the best success (ie. the long term results), are successful because they were making smaller and consistent changes. Making changes in this way means you can be thoughtful about your current diet and exercise routine, and you’re truly able to make thoughtful changes that build up to a lifestyle change and most importantly–something maintainable.
So, what changes can you make today?
- Swap your favorite indulgence with a healthier alternative 3 times per week. What food are you eating regularly and too much of? What food are you not eating enough of? I ask my clients these two questions almost every week. And over time, by reducing your intake of your favorite indulgences, either by cutting down on portion size or not eating it at all 3 times per week, and replacing them with a healthier alternative you’ll see and feel a difference. And hopefully these kinds of changes will become permanent. Some good examples include cutting down on a portion of nuts and subbing that extra serving with an apple. Swap ice cream after dinner with a bowl of your favorite cereal. Eat scrambled eggs with spinach three times per week instead of a bagel. By committing to a change just three times per week, the change isn’t overwhelming and you can still feel like you’re enjoying some of your favorite things.
- Reduce the number of alcoholic beverages you’re consuming. Except when I’m pregnant, I do not eliminate alcohol from my diet. However, I do limit myself to a few drinks per week. One of the ways I hold myself accountable is limiting my drinking to weekends with special exceptions. After spending almost 2 years without drinking (because I was preggers), I don’t want to give up alcohol, but I choose to drink a few days per week so I can really enjoy the drinks I’m having.
- Swap soda for seltzer. Men shouldn’t be consuming more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and women shouldn’t be consuming more than 5. A can of Coke has more than 9 teaspoons alone, plus a whole bunch of other ingredients your body doesn’t need.
- Stop consuming artificial sweeteners. One of the biggest reasons I can’t stand artificial sugar is because it “tricks” the body and your metabolism. Consuming artificial sugar sends a message to the brain and body that you’re about to get a sugar rush soon, but it never comes. Confused, your insulin levels may rise even higher than if you had actual sugar, and then you’re triggering the fat storage system. Without getting too into things, it’s a messy and dirty cycle! Stop messing with your your body and just cut these chemicals out of your diet for the biggest benefit.
- Consume ginger, lemon, apple cider vinegar and/or other naturally detoxing ingredients. One of my favorite, natural detoxing regimens includes a regular cup of lemon ginger herbal tea. This is especially great after I’ve eaten some particularly salty food or am experiencing some water retention.
- Add fermented foods/beverages to your diet. I am always touting the positive effects of fermented foods to family, friends, and strangers (sorry, not sorry). I love fermented foods and drinks for so many reasons that I will eventually write a whole post about them, but in short: fermented food improves your immune system, can help improve your mood, and yes–it can help aid in weight loss. Some of my favorites include kombucha, sauerkraut (not the mushy stuff your grandma used to serve on top of hot dogs), and kim chi. Just a little bit goes a long way.
- Flavor your coffee with an alternative to your favorite processed “dessert” creamer. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup creamer may taste good in your coffee, but it’s not good for you. Instead, consider flavoring your coffee with a slurry of a tablespoon of whole milk, a pinch of cinnamon, and a few drops of your favorite extract (vanilla, hazelnut, almond, coconut, or pumpkin spice).
- Go for a quick 5 minute stroll once per hour. If you have a desk job (and even if you don’t), go for a walk once per hour! You don’t have to log a mile, but keep moving to keep blood flowing, feel energized, improve your mood, improve your focus, and more. Hopefully this small movement will help you want to move more than you have more time at another point in your day too!
- Drink more water. Aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces in a day. If it feels like a lot more than you’ve been doing, you can count one cup of coffee into your ounce count. Staying hydrated also keeps your body functioning optimally. If you’re drinking enough water you should hopefully be moving enough through the day as you need to keep visiting a restroom.
- Exercise for 20-30 minutes, 3 times per week. If that seems overwhelming, be creative when you plan your exercise. Do 10 minutes of exercise a few times a day. Fit in a set of ab exercises while your breakfast is cooking. Go for a walk with the family a few evenings per week. Do some jump squats before you get in the shower and push ups before you go to bed. Fitting in regular movement will help you start exercising more regularly and maybe eventually for longer chunks.
All of these changes might not be easy, or sexy, or even fun. However, I do find that over time, they really help you be a healthier version of yourself for the long term.
When you’re fighting to make these kinds of commitments, the number one way I help myself stay on track is education. Educate yourself! Educate yourself about WHY these changes help you achieve your goals. Get on Google and remind yourself why you’re making these changes in the first place. Unsubscribe from the junk food videos popping up on your social media news feeds and surround yourself with information that supports the healthy changes you’re making instead. When getting healthy, education is your best tool.
Think about what you’re putting in your body regularly and about how various choices you’re making are affecting your waistline, immunity, inflammation, wallet, and more. Consider how eliminating, reducing, or adding something to your life can help you feel better and achieve your goals. Then the likelihood of your sticking to things is a lot more likely!
What are some changes you’ve made to start living healthier? Which one of these changes will you make first? Share in the comments below.