With summer coming to an end and school starting back up, there’s a feeling of change in the air. If you’re ready for a change and are truly ready to get healthy, I have some must-do healthy habits to start with. This is not about a diet. It’s not a fad. It’s a lifestyle. It’s about taking baby steps every day until you’ve built some pretty awesome healthy habits. If you’re not happy with your weight, the way you feel, your energy, etc., please know that you can feel better and that you can reach your goals if you just put one foot in front of the other and put in the hard work.
Being healthy starts with having healthy habits. Habits that bring you closer to a well balanced diet and habits that promote health. I’m not taking about making earth shattering changes to your life, but I am talking about making changes. Decide which ones are most important to you and just start there. Take baby steps until you’re really ready to dive in and make some more drastic changes to your life. Slow and steady can be best when you want to make lifelong changes because making too many drastic changes all at once can shock your body and leave you unmotivated, hungry, depleted, etc.
Alright. Are you ready to make a change? Are you ready to become a healthier and more vibrant version of the person you already are? Great!
Here are my 5 healthy habits to adopt to become the healthiest you:
 Eat food [real food!]
This may seem like a no-brainer, but too many people are falling victim to these “foods” found in the grocery store. I’m talking about all the junk that we think is food, when in fact it’s really just a bunch of chemicals and artificial flavoring, colorings, etc. that are made to look and taste like food. Here’s a challenge for you. Go down your grocery store aisles and just start reading your food labels. It will blow your mind what kind of things you will find! From long chemical names you can’t even pronounce to food coloring to artificial flavors. All of these things can be detrimental to your health in the short and long term! When I say eat real food, what I mean is just that. Eat fresh fruits and veggies, cook your own whole grains, and if you pick up something in a package or a box, read the label and see if you recognize all of the ingredients.
Also, try one of my newest recipes that’s loaded with tons of feel good, real food ingredients.
 Cut out sugar!
Sugar is everywhere. Most of us consume more sugar than the daily recommend amount by breakfast, or even before breakfast with our sugar-filled lattes. Cutting sugar may be one of the hardest things to change, but it may also give you the most dramatic results. Do you suffer from cravings and mood swings? It’s probably because of the sugar you’ve been eating. Are you tired and sluggish all the time? It’s probably the sugar. Do you feel like you can’t lose the weight you’ve been trying to for months/years? Sugar may be to blame.
Sugar comes in many forms from the most obvious — sugar added to coffee or in soda, to some more sneaky forms of sugar like added sugar in pasta sauce or refined/white grains that break down into sugar. What I’m getting at is that sugar is in so many different places, that if you just start to look for it, you may be surprised how much sugar you’re actually consuming. In general, if you’re reading a nutrition facts label, try to keep sugars under 10 grams per serving, and read your ingredients for added sugars. Try to avoid added sugars as much as you can. This means that you shouldn’t see any ingredients on your food label called sugar or the many other names for sugar, some of which are: syrup, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, invert sugar, etc. For a more extensive list or more information on this, send me an email and I’m happy to delve a little deeper.
The American Heart Association has set a recommendation for daily added sugar consumption to help you limit added sugar in your diet as much as possible. Here’s what that looks like: [a] women should limit added sugar consumption to no more than 6 teaspoons or 35 grams per day [b] men should limit added sugar consumption to no more than 9 teaspoons or 45 grams per day. To put that into perspective, just one 12-oz bottle of cranberry juice cocktail contains around 47 grams of sugar and one 12-oz can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar! Yikes! That’s more than whole days worth of added sugar in just one seemingly harmless 12-oz beverage.
Here is a list of some “thought-to-be healthy” foods that contain quite a bit of sugar:
- flavored yogurt
- pasta sauces
- BBQ sause
- salad dressing
- granola and cereal
- dried fruit with added sugars
- energy bars
- iced tea/vitamin waters
- sports drinks
- refined grains: white bread, white pasta, white rice
- low fat and fat-free foods [stay away!]
 Drink more water, lots of it!
Hydration is essential for overall health. Our bodies are made up of 60-70% water, which means that we need to drink lots of it to support each and every bodily function. Water is good for so many reasons:  it’s a natural detoxifier  water is energizing  it nourishes your joints, skin, etc.  it improves gut health and helps you stay or become regular  water can help you lose weight.
Dehydration should not be taken lightly, as it can have some pretty negative health effects. Here are some signs of dehydration that you should watch out for:  fatigue  dizzy/lightheaded  lack of concentration  headaches  dark colored urine  cramping or increased muscle soreness  loss of consciousness.
A problem that I see often among my clients is too little water consumption and far too many beverages that contain added sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, chemicals, etc. Drinking sugary beverages is an easy way to add hundreds of extra low-quality calories to your daily diet which can lead to weight gain, fatigue, sugar cravings, etc. Diet, “lite” or zero-calorie beverages are not healthier than regular sugar-laden options, either. While they may not contain many calories, they are still full of chemicals and have been shown increase sugar cravings and weight gain, sometimes even more than sugary beverages do.
[a squeeze of fresh grapefruit into sparking water makes for a refreshing and healthy drink.]
HELPFUL TIPS FOR INCREASING WATER CONSUMPTION
- Stay hydrated during the day by keeping a water bottle with you at all times [in the car, at your desk, at home, etc.]
- If you get bored with plain water, add some fruit to it! Add berries, lemon/lime, or even cucumber for a delicious spin on plain old water
- Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning, no excuses or exceptions
- Set a water consumption goal for yourself. I make sure that I drink 3 of my 32-ounce water bottle each and every day
- Use a water tracking app on your smart phone to keep track. Some apps even remind you when you haven’t had enough
- My favorite tip is having a water bottle that you actually like. My huge 32-ounce glass mason jar follows me pretty much everywhere
As a general rule of thumb, divide your body weight [in pounds] in half and consume that many ounces of water daily. For example, a 150 pound woman should drink 75 ounces of water which is about 9 cups of water daily. If you work out and sweat, please drink more water to replenish what water you’ve lost.
 Get moving.
Whatever type of movement suits you best is great. Do you enjoy walking? Great. Try and make more time to walk. Do you enjoy lifting weights? Wonderful. Even if you start small with just a few pound dumbbells, you are still working your muscles which is so important for a healthy, strong body. Do you like working out from home? Awesome. This is my favorite and I enjoy using different websites and programs such as Tone it Up. If you’d like more specific recommendations just shoot me an email and I’m happy to help. Do you hate working out? That’s ok. For now. All that I ask is that you make more time for movement throughout the day. Challenge yourself to get outside of your comfort zone and do things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from the grocery store entrance, find a flat trail and go for a bike ride, join a workout class like Barre, aerobics or yoga, do squats and lunges during a commercial break, get up and walk around your office building for 10 minutes to stretch your legs. You get the idea. Just get moving. It can be extremely beneficial for your short and long term health!
 Be prepared.
Being prepared mentally, physically and emotionally will be what sets most people apart from success or failure. Think about it. You say to yourself that staring on Monday I’m going to eat fruits and vegetables with every meal and cut out all junk food. Great! Now comes Monday morning and you don’t have any fruit or vegetables in the fridge and all you have is an energy and coffee before rushing out the door for work. You weren’t prepared. You didn’t set yourself up for success. You’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself by setting a goal to eat healthier when you don’t even have healthy food around to choose from. You must prepare. This means going to the grocery store with a plan. Prep some overnight oats or egg muffins for quick and easy breakfast. Have ingredients on hand to make a smoothie. Have some healthy snacks in the house and take them with you to work and in the car. And have a plan for dinner. When you plan for dinner and have all of the ingredients to make something quick and healthy, you are less inclined to grab a frozen pizza or fast food on the way home from work. I have so many recipes on my blog that are simple to make and take 30 minutes or less. Try out a new recipe each week.
You’ve got this.
Seriously, you do. You’re probably not giving yourself enough credit. Now that you’ve read my five guidelines, decide which one or couple you’d like to really focus on. Set yourself some goals for the week or for the month. It takes about thirty days to make and break habits, so don’t expect to make lasting changes overnight. We are all a work in progress and please believe me that no one is perfect, so don’t try to be.
If you want some individualized help with any of your health and wellness goals, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am passionate about helping people find there way through this confusing world where we don’t know what’s even healthy anymore. I can help simplify your life and get you to a better place physically, mentally and emotionally. You just have to ask.
In health and happiness,