6 Ways to Jumpstart a Healthy LifestyleDecember 2, 2020
Are You Ready to Start a Healthy Lifestyle?
Starting a new weight loss or fitness plan can be overwhelming. Goals can seem unattainable without making immediate major life changes first. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By making the conscious decision to lead a healthy lifestyle, you are already on the path to success.
Six Ways to Jumpstart a Healthy Lifestyle
With up to 60% of our bodies being made up of water, it’s not surprising that every organ is reliant on adequate hydration. Feeling fatigued? Having brain fog?
Rather than reaching for the coffee, grab a bottle of water! Your brain could very well be thirsting for that fluid.
Waiting for your mouth to get dry to tell you to drink is a poor method of staying on top of hydration. Thirst is an indicator that you are already dehydrated! This thirst cue is the result of the brain receiving signals from other organs that body fluid levels are low and something needs to be done to bring them back up.
Make sure you are getting at least 64 ounces of water per day (unless otherwise told by your doctor). If you are working out and sweating or in a hot environment, you likely need more.
The benefits we get from vegetables are endless and a topic in and of itself. They provide fiber that is essential to gut health.
Fiber feeds the bacteria that live in our gut. These bacteria are critical to our overall health and immunity, so it’s important to keep them well fed. Fiber also acts as a broom passing through our gut, sweeping up and collecting toxins to remove in our waste. Trying to reduce your cholesterol? Fiber has been shown to reduce cholesterol and promote heart health by blocking the reabsorption of cholesterol into the body through the gut.
Have you ever been told to make your plate a rainbow? Different vegetables have different benefits, which are often given away by their color.
For example, red and orange vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, and squash are high in a chemical known as beta-carotene, which provides them with their vibrant hue.
This chemical is essential to eyesight. Purple vegetables like purple cabbage, purple carrots, and eggplant are high in anthocyanins. These compounds are used in supplements due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. But why take a supplement when you can get the benefits by consuming it in its natural form? With a variety of colors comes a variety of benefits, so don’t be afraid to paint your plate!
Vegetables are incredibly versatile when it comes to methods they can be prepared. Look at cauliflower for example; this vegetable has now become an alternative for rice, mashed potatoes, and pizza crust!
Below are just a few examples of ways to prepare your vegetables and keep them exciting.
- Try a colorful kabob layered with green bell peppers, red onions, zucchini, and mushrooms.
- Craving something crunchy? Rather than reaching for chips or crackers, try sugar snap peas, carrots, and cucumber dipped in a homemade dip (try nonfat sour cream or Greek yogurt with a ranch seasoning packet).
- Make your morning eggs more flavorful by caramelizing an onion, wilting fresh spinach, and chopping a few sundried tomatoes into your scrambled eggs.
- On a hot day, try an icy and refreshing smoothie made with berries, nonfat Greek yogurt, and a couple of handfuls of spinach or kale. Instead of the classic romaine salad, try tossing chopped cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, avocado, and fresh basil with balsamic and fresh mozzarella. Yum!
PROTEIN: "THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF LIFE"
Protein is essential for our bodies; every cell in our body contains it!
Adequate protein intake is critical in supporting organ function, maintaining and/or building muscle for movement and support, transporting nutrients, and maintaining fluid balance in our bodies.
Foods that contain the most protein include lean meats, poultry, seafood, dairy products, eggs, beans, and nuts/seeds. Protein powders and shakes can also aid in your efforts to increase protein.
However, some protein shakes can be more like milkshakes when it comes to their sugar content, so make sure to ask a dietitian which ones are recommended for you and what your total daily protein intake goal should be for your healthy lifestyle.
Eating mindfully means choosing nourishing foods, eating slowly for more enjoyment, and eating to satiety rather than fullness.
Did you know you can trick your brain and body into feeling more satisfied by using small plates and bowls? Imagine a cup of food on a large dinner plate.
Now imagine that same cup of food on a side salad or bread plate. Even though it is the same amount of food, your brain is likely to feel much more satisfied eating the plate of food that appears full compared to the plate that has empty space remaining.
Using this technique of eating off of a smaller plate can significantly help to reduce your portions and overall calorie intake and help to create your healthy lifestyle.
Having trouble slowing down when you're eating? Use small utensils. Imagine the difference in how large of a bite can fit on a dinner fork compared to a small deli tray fork. When you take your bite, chew to an applesauce consistency.
While it’s tempting to prep the next bite while chewing, wait until you have swallowed the previous bite and taken a couple of relaxing breaths prior to picking that fork back up. I highly encourage reading the book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink, PH.D., for more insight and tips regarding mindfulness around food.
Besides being important to weight management, movement can also improve energy, reduce stress, improve sleep, and improve heart and lung function.
While going to the gym is an excellent way to get in movement, this does not need to be the form of physical activity you choose. You can do a workout video at home via YouTube, sparkpeople.com, on demand, etc. Or on a nice day, go for a relaxing walk outside.
Day to day, movement can be increased by parking farther away from the store, taking stairs instead of elevators, and doing yardwork. Keep a lookout for opportunities to move throughout the day. Every bit counts, and it does add up!
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF EMOTIONALLY
It is hard to focus on nutrition and physical activity if you are feeling emotionally drained, so it’s important that you make your emotional health a priority.
If you find yourself feeling chronically stressed or depressed, know your resources. Make sure to discuss it with your primary care provider who can place a referral to a counselor or discuss medications.
Reach out to your support system including friends, loved ones, or even a support group. Exercise! While it may not sound enticing at first, exercise almost always makes you feel better. This is because it releases hormones called endorphins, which make you happy!
Take time for yourself to meditate, practice a breathing exercise, or pray. Check out 4-7-8 breathing by Dr. Weil on YouTube for a quick method to reduce stress both in the short term and long term. Finally, be kind and patient with yourself. This will make a world of difference in your healthy lifestyle.
Read More Articles from Jackie Crews on ObesityHelp!
ABOUT THE AUTHORJackie Crews MS, RDN, CD, CEP is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist at MultiCare Center for Weight Loss & Wellness in Washington State. She received her master’s degree in nutrition and exercise physiology from Washington State University, where she also earned minors in Spanish and psychology. She completed rotations at Tacoma General and St. Peter hospitals and a number of outpatient facilities working in clinical nutrition, patient counseling, and cardiac rehabilitation.