10 steps for healthy eating and exercise
10 steps for healthy eating and exercise
Looking to kickstart your nutrition and exercise plan? These 10 tips aren’t new or revolutionary, but make the effort to follow them and you’ll notice positive results.
You’ve made a commitment to change, so honour it. Any change to your routine or eating habits isn’t going to be easy. Most people thrive on an established routine, as it gives them comfort and security.
However, you need to acknowledge that if you want to change your body, you are going to have to make some serious changes in your life.
Making the decision to change your diet isn’t enough; you need to honour your commitment to change every day, regardless of how frustrating it may be to begin with.
Write a Plan
Complaining that you’re unhappy with your body isn’t going to achieve anything, not is following an unrealistic exercise regime or extreme diet that is impossible to maintain.
You need to construct a healthy living plan that suits your personality and lifestyle, and follow it. The plan should include a regular exercise component that is manageable and enjoyable, and an eating plan that is nourishing.
If you want to lose weight and tone your body, regular exercise is necessary. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day that increases your heart rate.
This might seem impossible if free time is already an issue for you, but exercise is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re a morning person set your alarm 45 minutes earlier than usual and go for a walk. If you sit at a computer all day, spend half of your lunch break going for a walk.
If you’re a night owl, take up an evening sport or exercise class such as basketball, dance or martial arts. The key to exercise is choosing an activity that you enjoy and can sustain.
By making healthy food choices most of the time, and keeping your meal portions to a reasonable size, you should be in a healthy weight range.
Remember, you don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight, nor do you have to deprive yourself of the occasional glass of wine or piece of chocolate.
The key is to eat well most of the time and focus on healthy foods that you enjoy eating. Here are our top tips:
- Don’t skip meals to the point of wanting to gorge yourself at the end of the day. By eating three nourishing meals a day, with a couple of healthy snacks in between, you will keep your energy levels high and your metabolism working at its peak.
- Make healthy adaptions to the food you already enjoy. If you have a bowl of muesli for breakfast, don’t fill the bowl to the brim. Instead, have a smaller bowl with some fruit and yoghurt. If you prefer eggs, opt for poached eggs with avocado, tomato and a piece of wholegrain toast, instead of greasy fried eggs with bacon.
- Fresh fruit and raw nuts are great snack choices. If you’re really craving chocolate, have one or two pieces of dark chocolate rather than a calorie-dense, sugar-laden chocolate bar.
Foil Danger Zones
Pay particular attention to the times of day when you are likely to indulge in foods that aren’t beneficial to your health plan.
For example, mid-afternoon when your energy levels are flagging, or in the evening when you may be feeling bored. Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand for those moments, such as fresh fruit or hummus with carrot sticks.
Beware of Diet Traps
Watch out for foods and drinks that can wreak havoc on your diet plan. Soft drinks, including diet soft drinks, are a common diet trap.
An eight-year study from the University of Texas’s Health Science Centre found that for regular soft drink consumers the risk of becoming overweight or obese was 32.8% higher for those who drank one or two cans a day.
For diet soft drink consumers the risk of becoming overweight or obese was 54.5% for those who drank one or two cans a day.
Other foods that can be problematic include those with a high glycaemic index (GI), such as white bread, corn chips and donuts, that break down quickly, which means you soon become hungry again.
Thirst (which is caused by dehydration) can mask hunger and food cravings. Before you reach for a snack, have a glass of water, wait for ten minutes, then ask yourself if you are still feeling hungry.
Be Kind to Yourself
If you do slip up and find yourself tucking into the chocolate cake, don’t beat yourself up about it. Guilt can have a more devastating effect than the occasional indulgence.
It can lead to a downward spiral of self-loathing, which may cause you to abandon your nutrition plan.
Set yourself manageable targets then reward yourself with a non-food treat when you reach them. Opt for something that feels good and celebrates your new body, such as a massage, a new piece of clothing or a leisurely bubble bath.
Keeping a healthy perspective is an important part of a healthy diet plan. Life is short. It’s your choice whether you spend your time obsessing over the size of your thighs or focusing on a more positive aspect of life.
Are you really going to let a little bit of wobble stop you splashing in the sea, enjoying a night out with your friends or getting outdoors and appreciating a glorious spring day?
The body you have today is an amazing gift. Be thankful, treat it with respect and enjoy your life to the fullest.