There is not one magic pill to make someone healthy. We live in a society where we expect everything to be instantaneous. Unfortunately, those instantaneous miracles don't last most of the time. For example, when it comes to weight, how long did it take you to put on that weight? For most people, it took years. Why do we expect to lose that weight in a week or even a month? And even if you do, do you think that is healthy? Do you think it will last? I don't want to sound like a Debby Downer, I am just being realistic. Diets don't work. They may for a brief moment, but diets aren't a lifestyle. In order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to change your lifestyle and, unfortunately, it may take a few years. I know our society doesn't like to hear that but wouldn't you rather spend a couple years changing your life, losing weight and KEEPING IT OFF rather than losing a crazy amount of weight in a month and gaining it back (sometimes even gaining more weight) a few months later?
If you are ready to make a lifestyle change, here are a few tips to get you started:
Drink more water
Many people mistake hunger for thirst. Make sure that you are drinking water consistently throughout the day. The amount of water you drink depends on how active you are. I recommend AT LEAST 8 - 8oz glasses of water a day. This will depend on the person though. I typically drink about 75oz per day.
Helpful tips: Set a timer every hour to drink one 8oz glass of water. Or buy a large water bottle (mine is 24oz) and make to fill about 3 times a day.
Eating out is a nice treat once in a while; however, cooking at home is a simple step to start a healthier lifestyle. Restaurant meals are typically very large portions and contain a lot of salt. You don't always know exactly what ingredients are in these meals. Home cooking can be very simple and you can get all of your nutrients in.
Helpful tip: Plan ahead. On Sunday I make a list of 2 different dishes I can cook for each meal during the week. I make a very specific grocery list and go shopping. The meals that I make are very simple (takes no longer than 30 mins) but very nutritious. Pack your lunch and prep a breakfast the night before. We all have busy lives. If you are tight on time in the morning, prep your breakfast and lunch the night before. A great breakfast to prep is overnight oats.
Experiment with whole grains
How many people reading this have cut out carbs in their diet? The #1 diet and theory that is popular right now is that carbs are evil and are the culprit for all weight gain. That is all a bunch of garbage. ALL carbs do not contribute to weight gain. Look at the thin, delicate bodies of Japanese people, who consume high-carbohydrate diets composed of large amounts of rice and starchy vegetables. Whole grains have been a staple in the human diet for centuries. People gain weight because they eat artificial junk food and SUGAR.
I challenge you to experiment with healthy, whole grain carbohydrates. If you are having sugar cravings, eating whole grains may help. Some examples of whole grains are rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, oats.
Increase sweet vegetables
Instead of reaching for those cookies or candy, try incorporating more sweet vegetables into your diet. Some examples of these are corn, carrots, onions, betters, winter squash, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, cabbage.
Increase leafy green vegetables
Some benefits of eating leafy greens are:
- blood purification
- cancer prevention
- improved circulation
- immune strengthening
- subtle, light and flexible energy
- lifted spirit, elimination of depression
- promotion of healthy intestinal flora
- improved liver, gallbladder and kidney function
- clearing of congestion, especially in lungs, and reduction of mucus
Some examples of leafy greens are broccoli, boo chop, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, and broccoli rabe.
Experiment with protein
Protein is the basic building block of the human structure, but because every body is different, protein requirements vary from person to person. For example, I was vegan for a few years and was living very well off of just plant protein. However, once I started strength training, my body needed more protein and I found myself craving animal protein. I do eat animal protein now, however, I cannot eat too much red meat. My body doesn't digest it as well as chicken, eggs or turkey.
My advice is to experiment with different types of protein, as well as, the amount. Our society tends to eat way more protein than most of our bodies need. A good way of keeping track of your food intake is to keep a food journal. I have been doing this for years and it has helped me understand what foods I can eat an abundance of, which foods I can indulge in once in a while and which foods I need to avoid. I just take note of what I eat for each meal and how I feel afterward and jot it down in my journal. You can use a notebook or purchase a food journal online. I bought mine off of amazon.
Eat less sugar and chemicalized, artificial junk foods; consume less coffee, alcohol and tobacco
I could go on and on about this topic but I will keep it short and sweet since I am sure that most people know these items are not good for your body. Everyone loves sugar. Why? Because it is addictive. Eating even a small amount of it creates a desire for more. Those that eat a ton of sugar may have tried to quit. Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue. Sugar is just as addictive as coffee, alcohol and tobacco. These all are forms of drugs. Consuming too much (or even any at all) of these products could cause serious harm to your body in the future.
Develop easy and reliable habits to nurture your body
A few examples of habits to nurture your body:
2. Drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning
3. Take a bath with lavender epsom salt
Have healthy relationships that support you
In order to find healthy relationships, you must find ways to love and nurture yourself first. If you don't know yourself and/or don't love yourself, you cannot maintain any healthy relationships, whether it be friendship or love. Figure out who you are and what you need in a relationship. Once you do that, you will be able to have and maintain healthy friendships and love.
Find physical activity you enjoy and do it regularly
Healthy exercise is just as important as eating healthy. Your body is made to move. Find something that YOU ENJOY doing. I can't tell you how many people I meet that say that they run because they feel like they need to but they don't enjoy it. Well than don't do it! There are plenty of different physical activities out there. I am sure you are bound to find one thing that you like.
Here are some examples
- running/ walking
- weight lifting
- a sport (soccer, football, tennis, ultimate frisbee)
- rock climb
Find work you love or a way to love the work you have
This is the hardest topic to discuss with people because, unfortunately, the majority of people I speak to don't like their jobs. They feel trapped in a dead end, unhappy job but can't leave because they need the money for either their family, school or just life in general.
The first question I ask is can you leave your job? If you are really unhappy with it, start applying to different companies. If you cannot leave your job for some reason, than make the most out of it. Instead of going to work every day unhappy, find love in the work that you have.
- Identify people at work that could be allies and avoid those people that irritate you.
- Spruce up your office.
- Address the issues that may be bothering you at work with your manager.
- Go to work with one thing in mind that you are excited to accomplish that day, instead of dreading the entire day ahead.
Develop a spiritual practice
This may mean different things to different people. For some, this may mean following their religion that they were brought up with. This could be a form of prayer or meditation. For those that do not believe in a god, this may mean going for a walk or looking up at the stars to appreciate the worlds beauty.
I hope these 12 steps have helped in your journey to a healthier and happier you!
Lisa Catherine Kenny
Content from this blog was inspired by the book Integrative Nutrition written by Joshua Rosenthal, the founder and director of the Institute For Integrative Nutrition.