One of the hardest things for people to do is get rid of a habit. We often shy away from change. People like what is comfortable and familiar. Making a lifestyle change can seem daunting but usually, trying to develop smaller habits gradually will eventually add up to lifestyle changes.
The biggest change people tend to make too drastic is their diet and exercise routines. They go on this extreme diet of no carbs or 100% “clean eating” of bland chicken, broccoli, and rice for a little while… they lose some unwanted weight… but then they crash. They get so sick of it and fall back into old habits. Building small habits will lay the foundation for a long and healthy life.
Think about building a house… someone can use poor materials to lay the foundation and rush to get the job done quickly. The house might look good on the outside and last for a little while but eventually, it will collapse due to the poor foundation. Relating back to your nutrition, making extreme changes too quickly will deliver fast results that aren’t sustainable in the long run.
Developing some of the following habits will help you to lay that foundation for a long term change that will lead to a healthy lifestyle:
1. DRINK MORE WATER!
Our bodies are typically made up of about 60% water. That’s over half! But it seems that water is one of the biggest deficiencies we see. Water is a macronutrient and is an essential nutrient needed for all body functions. It is found in our cells, transports nutrients to our cells, and helps to remove toxins from the body. So why aren’t we drinking enough water? No matter your goal, drinking more water daily will only help you reach that goal quicker. I am CONSTANTLY drinking water. You pretty much will never see me without a water bottle in hand. People tend to think they are getting enough water if they are drinking other liquids such as coffee, tea, juice, etc. However, these liquids actually pull water from our bodies instead of adding water to it. SO, start slowly adding more water into your routine. Keep a water bottle with you at all times. Set a time on your phone to remind you to drink a glass of water before every time you eat. Another helpful idea is to use a blender bottle and have a few rubber bands wrapped around the top of it. Each time you drink a full blender bottle of water, move one of the rubber bands to the bottom. Our goal is to work up to drinking half our bodyweight in ounces!
2. ALL THE VEGGIES
Some of you aren’t going to like this but the next habit to develop is to eat vegetables at EVERY MEAL. Yes, every meal. This food group is one of the most nutrient dense foods, providing our bodies with tons of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Veggies are also lower in calories so we can eat more of them, allowing us to feel fuller for a longer period of time! If you are only eating one serving a day currently, make it a goal to eat a handful of vegetables 3 times a day for 3-4 days of the week. Over time, keep adding in that handful of veggies to more and more meals throughout the week. My favorites are baby carrots and roasted broccoli!
3. COOK A LARGE QUANTITY OF FOOD
When trying to eat healthier, you often end up doing a lot more cooking. It would get old really quick to cook every single meal every day from scratch. That’s why cooking some of your food in bulk once a week will really help and save time! Having healthy leftovers to grab and reheat for meals makes making good choices a lot easier. Pick one day (usually Sunday for me) to make a few food items in a large quantity. Roast a few trays of veggies, bake a couple sweet potatoes, and grill a few chicken breasts for the week. Store them in large containers or portion them into grab and go meals for the week.
4. KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS NEARBY.
If you are someone who is often on the go, busy at work, etc… keeping healthy snacks on hand will be a game changer. Temptation is everywhere. Somebody brought donuts into work… do you give in and grab a donut or opt for a healthier snack? (Yes, donuts are delicious and should be enjoyed as a treat and in moderation!) Sometimes your schedule will suddenly change or you have to quickly run out the door… having a snack on hand will help you so you aren’t left hangry and unprepared.
5. EAT MORE PROTEIN.
Protein, protein, and more protein. This is often the BIGGEST issue I notice in people’s diets. Consuming more protein can help whether you are trying to lose weight or build muscle. We all need to eat enough protein no matter the goal. Eating more protein helps to boost your metabolic rate which increase the calories you burn at rest. It also helps us to feel full longer and decrease our appetite. Focus on eating more quality protein sources like lean meats and plants. Relating to the meal prepping idea earlier, cook a few different protein options each week (ground turkey, chicken, lean beef, hard boiled eggs, etc.) and try to eat a serving of protein at each meal/snack.
6. READ NUTRITION LABELS.
I typically suggest trying to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store… produce, meat, organic aisle, etc. BUT, if you are going down the aisles and buying things in packages with nutrition labels.. READ THEM. Don’t just read the front that says “healthy wheat bread” and think that it is actually healthy. Most of the time, if you flip it over and read the ingredients, you will find a long list full of ingredient names you can’t even pronounce. That is not healthy nor is it food. A lot of processed food contains chemicals, preservatives, dyes, hidden sugar, and other unnecessary ingredients. A good habit to practice is next time you are grocery shopping, read the food label of at least half of the things in your cart. As you are reading the label, ask yourself if that foods ingredients is going to help you get closer to your goals or hinder them. Eventually, try to fill your grocery cart with mostly foods that will help you get closer to your goal or that don’t have a nutrition label at all.
7. UNDERSTAND HUNGER VS. THIRST
As we talked about people not drinking enough water earlier, this leads to dehydration which can cause that hungry feeling in our bellies. People often mistake the feeling of our bodies requesting water for hunger. If you are feeling hungry between meals, try drinking a glass of water and waiting about 10 minutes or so. If you are still feeling super hungry, eat something! Grab one of those healthy snacks we talked about. If you drink water and the hungry feeling goes away, that typically means you were mistaking that feeling of hunger for thirst.
These are just some things I often see hindering people’s health and fitness goals. Developing these little habits slowly over time will definitely help you become more aware of your body, help you achieve your goals, & lay a strong foundation for building a healthier life.
I am passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle for myself & helping those around me.