If only we could wake up daily to minimal stress, pure healthy food, in the perfect quantities, exercise, sunshine, we would all be well on our way. In reality, many of us struggle to get out the door on time, let alone have a balanced meal before we hit the day running. It’s too easy to be reactive with our health by choosing lunch by whatever cafe or fast-food joint is nearest, and prioritizing our job and or kids.
Yet, the road to health needs a proactive approach with a soft plan of fitting in weekly exercise, mind-body practices, bonding with peers and suggested meals/snacks. Looking at research of what habits help most people attain a healthy weight and overall sense of wellness, here are a few ideas to emulate.
- Plan you Meals – no need to make this harder than it is. And surely do not map out a diet meant for a bird. Have a balance of produce and ingredients full of fat and protein at each meal. Make the meals attractive to your palate, as eating well includes a component of satisfaction. A few ways I do this – I take out a small dry erase board I have stashed on the side of the refrigerator and think of 4 meals to make for the week. I always double the recipe to have for a following lunch/dinner. Another strategy I use to plan out weekly meals is I will briefly play on Pinterest and select a recipe that looks good (and easy!) and add it to my Notepad on my phone, where I also keep my grocery list. Having a list on my phone makes it a lot harder to leave a physical list behind. Rarely do I get anywhere without a phone.
- Batch Cook – meals eaten at home do not require hours in the kitchen. Use tools like a slow cooker, roast a cookie-sheet’s worth of vegetables for the week, increase a recipe to cook once, eat twice, set aside an evening to chop vegetables and fruit for grab and go snacks. Make a massive salad to pair with planned meals for the week and more. I often use frozen vegetables for roasting. Frozen vegetables can be healthier than fresh, as fresh produce depletes of nutrients as it ages. At breakfast I often compile lunch. At dinners, I often put together ingredients in a blender, to then set in the refrigerator overnight for an AM smoothie. Meal prep needs to be easy and efficient, or else it can feel like a chore or project. Keep the task simple.
- Nurture sleep – kids aren’t the only ones who get cranky when they stay up past their bedtime. It’s funny as adults, we push ourselves to stay up to watch a show and or ignore our tired ques just because the clock tells us it’s too early to tuck ourselves in. Cutting sleep less than 8 hours is not doing ourselves any favors – our hormones are thrown off, including leptin/ghrelin (hunger hormones), cortisol, insulin, we crave more carbs and sugar, and the list goes on. Beyond the quantity of sleep, work on the quality. Make sure your bedroom is cool, use blackout curtains, eye masks and ear plugs if need be. Have a bedtime ritual so you fall asleep quickly and even concoct a bedtime cocktail of bone broth, sleepy time tea or enjoy some Natural Calm with collagen.
- Don’t skip meals, or starve yourself. Losing weight or maintaining a healthy one is not about eating less, it’s about eating smarter. Understand your true hunger verse cravings and strive to eat mostly real food.
- Drink water. Did you know being hydrated can actually make us appear younger, prevent fatigue, better regulate blood sugar, digestion, mental clarity, lose weight and the list goes on. Have a water bottle on you. Always.
- Don’t stress over the small things. Practice 80/20 with choosing the right food. Enjoy the 20% with no guilt.
- Develop habits that can be maintained long-term. Avoid fads and shortcuts. Make changes small enough that they become part of a lifestyle, not a to-do list.
Happy holidays, safe travels and please share any actions that help keep you on tract.
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