7 STEPS TO A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE

We have passed the January goal making and promises regarding healthy eating and fitness regime.  I, for one, haven’t made any food or fitness related New Year’s resolutions as I knew deep down that I would not keep them.   I didn’t want to start another diet.  My aim was to change my eating habits and with a bit of luck, make sure that as a family we all eat a little bit better.

With that in mind my change was gradual and took a little bit more time than any crash diet, which you ditch after approximately 3 weeks.

It is worth mentioning that those are my Healthy Eating habits and I am not a trained nutritionist.  However, I have noticed change in the way I am eating and feeling, hence I decided to share this on my blog. I haven’t re-invented the wheel.  Everything is fairly simple and it’s almost like going back to basics.  Let’s start….

1 – Eating Regularly

This is key.  Since going back to work full time with two kids, I basically skipped breakfast or grabbed a pastry with a hot flask of coffee. It was consumed in the car, en route to the office.  Between getting to the office and lunch I would have 3 snacks and I would still be starving just before lunch, which meant I mostly over ate at lunch as well.  Feeling sluggish up until 3pm and then being ready for a nap did not help when you have to be alert for few more hours.  No wonder the weight was creeping up and I was feeling more and more exhausted.

There are different theories about how many meals per day you should have but for me 5 every 3-4 hours work best.  I make sure my breakfast fuels me for the first part of the day, followed by a small snack, lunch which consists of carbs, fats and proteins, then another snack and a light dinner.  This sort of pattern makes my metabolism work (hopefully) and I don’t feel like I need to overeat at meal-times.  I eat regularly, when I am hungry and not when the time comes.

This brings me to another the next point….

2 – Meal Planning

I told you I won’t be re-inventing the wheel.   Meal Planning helps me with not having to go out and buy a dried out sandwich for £4, keeps food waste to the minimum and cost of shopping under control.   I don’t have a strict day-by-day food menu but I plan what meals we will eat each week and make a note of that in my Meal Planner  along with a shopping list.  The evening  meals / lunches shuffle between the days but it means I buy what we actually need and resist the temptation of getting a take – out.  There is no excuse, if there is food in the fridge/freezer.  Also, I do like the view of 2-3 boxes worth of lunches in the fridge for the week ahead.

3 – Batch Cooking

I am known for not being able to cook small portions.  Which comes handy when you are able to freeze those meals ready to be used later.  In January, I really didn’t feel inspired to come up with fancy meals and I could not think of anything worse than standing over the cooker for more than 30 minutes.  Luckily, apart from having some quick meal ideas in my repertoire, I also had portions of coconut dal, lentil spaghetti Bolognese sauce and a couple of curries in the freezer.  It meant that I didn’t have to worry about slaving in the kitchen or ordering an unhealthy take-away and we still had good, nutritious meals.

4 – Eliminate Bad Eating Habits

I stopped saying that “as of Monday I won’t eat chocolate” or “healthy eating starts Monday”.  Guess what?  Usually on that Monday I felt like I could eat a horse…made out of chocolate.   I would then find a hidden stash of chocolate or invade kids’ “treat box” and the whole “diet” goes out of the window with me feeling very, very guilty.

Small steps worked for me.  I have never been the biggest fan of fizzy drinks, so they were eliminated first.  Next, fast food chains.  I don’t eat there often, I am not a fan, so again it wasn’t that difficult to stop eating there all together.  Interestingly, once I changed what and when I ate I stopped feeling the urge for that sweet treat after dinner/lunch/between meals.  I actually feel quite smug when I say no to a birthday cake in the office 🙂

However, when it comes to salty snacks (crisps), chocolate and cake I still have them, BUT I make sure that chocolate is at least 70% dark chocolate and with crisps and popcorn I get small packet so it’s portion controlled.  I believe everything is good in moderation and since I don’t crave sweet stuff as much as I used to I much prefer to bake something at home.  This way I know what I put in it and enjoy it thoroughly.

5 – Drink Water

This is so obvious, however even I don’t sometimes remember to drink it.  Also I am a hot-drink person.   We should aim for 1,5 – 2 litres of water every day and there are days when I find it hard to get it in me.  I love my coffee and tea, therefore I need to make an extra effort to drink more water.  Herbal teas also count (thankfully!), so I top up with some herbal infusions (ginger & lemon, flavoured Green Teas) and in the summer I like to infuse my water bottle with some fruits.

6 – Turn – Up Your Metabolism

I aim to start my day with a cup of warm water with lemon (and honey some days) – this will wake your digestive system up and make it work better throughout the day.  Sometimes, when I need a change I swap lemons for apple cider vinegar (it is acquired taste).  I also make sure I have my breakfast within an hour of getting up.  This was a challenge and I make sure I have overnight oats in the fridge which can be warmed up in the microwave and topped up with any fruit or nuts that I have at hand – that way I have breakfast on the go whilst I get ready for work.

7 – Move

This has been the most challenging part and one that I am still trying to be consistent with.  I aim for 2-3 HIIT ( High Intensity Interval Training) Sessions per week, which you can easily find on You Tube and do from the comfort of your own sitting room.  It’s a massive advantage, however after a long day I really have to be in the right frame of mind, otherwise excuses get the better of me.  Also, I use a smart bracelet  to count calories burnt as well as daily steps.  I aim for 10,000 steps every day and the tracker keeps me in check.

So this is it.  It helped me to gather everything that I have put into practice since the beginning of the year and hopefully it will also be useful to you.

Throughout the process I needed to remind myself what motivated me to make those changes (wanting to go back to pre-pregnancy weight) and then put those changes into practice so they won’t become a temporary fix.

Have you got any tricks or habits that help you stay on track?

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One comment on “7 STEPS TO A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE

  1. I am a counselor and I was just talking to her about not being able to start a diet, so we actually talked about these same things! Eating healthy instead of focusing on fad diets!

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