Ok, let’s just start off by saying I don’t like the term “dieting”because healthy and happy shouldn’t be a temporary deal. In order for you to truly reach your health goals, whether it’s eating healthier, losing weight or upping your exercise, you have to change your entire lifestyle indefinitely, not just your habits for a given amount of time. This is why “diets” don’t work- they’re temporary! If you want to reach your goals and see results you have to commit to shifting your routine for the long-run. That’s not to say you can’t have a few treats here and there, because God knows we all deserve them! Living a healthy lifestyle teaches you discipline, commitment and self-respect, and the sooner you hop on this bandwagon I promise you the sooner you’ll be able to see and reach your full potential.
Alrighty I’ve gotten all that dieting ranting out of my system. So now that you’ve (hopefully) committed to a lifestyle instead of a diet, where should you start? I know how hard it is to break habits you’ve been acclimated to your whole life. “What do you mean I can’t have cereal for breakfast everyday?? What do you mean diet soda actually rots your organs?? What do you mean peanut butter isn’t an efficient source of protein??” There are so many dieting scams out there that make it incredibly confusing to really understand what’s “healthy” and what isn’t, but that’s why I’m here! Here is a list of my top six healthy lifestyle hacks that have helped me shift my mindset and habits to better my body, mind and overall happiness through what I eat, how I exercise and how I view myself:
- Drink more water and carry a water bottle with you everywhere!– We are encouraged to drink half our body weight in oz. of water, so for me that’s about 60 oz. or half a gallon of water a day. Some nutritionists even suggest drinking double that amount. I drink about 120-160 oz. of water a day. You may think that’s crazy-hard, but it’s really not! I carry around a 1.18 L-size water bottle with me literally everywhere I go. Our bodies desperately need water throughout the day; water improves concentration, mood, digestion, tiredness and hunger control. We often mistake thirst for hunger because our bodies are craving water, so before you reach for a snack consider how much water you’ve had throughout the day. Carrying a plastic-free, or at least bpa-free, water bottle not only encourages you to drink more but also relieves your body of all the harmful materials plastic releases into bottled water.
- Take the stairs people.– Yes, you hear it all the time but how often do you really do it? I live on the third floor of my dorm and I take the stairs EVERY time. My roommates, friends and boyfriend hate me for it sometimes, but I just can’t let myself take the elevator no matter what. Taking the stairs everywhere you go is a simple but crucial element of a healthy lifestyle- it teaches you discipline and not only builds your physical strength but your mental strength as well. Common excuses for not taking the stairs are, “I’m too tired” or “I’ll take it next time I promise.” NO- there is no next time, people! Your healthy lifestyle starts now if you’ll let it. So no excuses and get your butt up those stairs! Trust me, something as small as this will help you crack other unhealthy habits and encourage you not to take shortcuts when you’re lazy.
- Don’t go it alone!– It’s really hard to break bad habits, but it’s even harder to break bad habits alone. Find a friend who’s also willing to take this journey to a happier and healthier version of his or her self. It will make it easier for both of you to hold each other accountable to reach your goals. My friend Jaime and I work out at 6 AM six days a week, and I can’t tell you how many times I would’ve slept in if it weren’t for Jaime waiting for me in our living room. That little push alone has helped both both her and me find the motivation every single day to be the best versions of ourselves. We’ve grown a lot closer because of our common health goals and I’ve learned so much about myself through her. Having a friend who’s on the same page as you will not only help you make a change but will also teach you how big of an impact your actions and attitude can have on other people.
- If you can’t find every ingredient listed on a grocery shelf, heavily consider not eating it.– Gosh this is another huge tip. I challenge you- flip over your next packaged food and read every ingredient listed. How many of those ingredients are actually food? If you can’t pronounce or find every single ingredient in a food on a grocery shelf, don’t put it in your body! Sodium Bicarbonate… what is that? Melodextrin… what is that? Glucose syrup… what is that? I’ll tell you what all these are- junk! Plain old junk. Start really paying attention to what’s actually in your foods to truly understand what you’re eating. Would you buy sodium bicarbonate off the shelf and add it in your soup? No, so why let anyone else do that to you? Take pride in the things you buy, or better yet stop buying pre-made, packaged foods and start cooking your own stuff! It’s the only you’ll absolutely know for sure what your food’s really made of and where everything came from. The more you eat real food with real ingredients the more you’ll begin to notice how crappy crappy food makes you feel.
- Read, read read nutrition labels!– This is an extended comment to the previous tip. People often think if things say “vegan” or “gluten-free” or “healthier version” that those foods are healthy, but that isn’t always the case. Read the nutrition facts of your standard granola bar and see how many grams or milligrams of sodium, fat, carbs and sugar it has. Stop fixating on the calorie count and start looking at the other nutrient breakdowns. Anything with over 120 ml of sodium, 10 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs or 10 grams of sugar is probably not the best thing for you. Better yet, the more packaged foods you can eliminate out of your diet the better! Start making your own granola bars or overnight oats instead of opting for those sugary oatmeal packets. Mix your own paleo pancake mix instead of grabbing that Bisquick pancake mix with bleached flour and added preservatives. Or best of all, grab some fruits and veggies!
- See the positives in everything… and I mean everything.– I live in a first-world country, and I cannot express enough how so many people I know “suffer” from first-world problems. Meaning, they don’t suffer at all but think they do. The biggest advice I could ever give to anyone looking to start a healthy lifestyle is to quit complaining and see the positives in everything. There’s so much beauty in the world, so much each of us has to offer and so much more we could all do to make life easier for ourselves and others in a healthy way. I know I’m not perfect at this- sometimes I stare at myself in the mirror and think “Why do I look this way? I work out so much and I’m still not where I should be.” But once I finally come back to my senses I realize, who cares?? The more we all start seeing the positive in ourselves, our lives and others the happier we will be. If you’re not happy with your life choices now, stop complaining and start making a change! And once you make that change, see every aspect of your life in a positive light and I promise you the bad habits will start fading. Example 1: “I don’t feel like working out today I’m too tired and too out of shape.” Wrong- you have so much to offer the world and yourself today so why hold yourself back? Get out the door, see the positives of working out and move that body! No excuses, no letdowns, no negativity. You can do this! You’re more capable than you could ever imagine, and the sooner you realize that the sooner your mind, body and spirit will reflect it.
Well there you have it folks. I know this is a novel of a post, but I needed to get it out of my system. We all want the best for ourselves, but each of us will never achieve our goals if we continue to make excuses. Start with these small tips and take baby steps towards a better you; a few weeks, months and years from now you’ll look back at your initial turning point and will realize how much you really are capable of if you put your mind to it.
To health infinity and beyond!