As we enter the first few weeks of spring, many of us are looking to get into better shape and lose the extra weight we’ve put on over the winter months. Many of us have also been down this road before, and know just how hard this can be. The adage “nothing worth having comes easy” definitely comes to mind. However, if you are committed to your goals and stay on track, you will be able to accomplish what you have set out to do. The following is a general guideline to a healthy lifestyle including eating healthy and regular exercise. It should be noted that everyone’s body is different, and not everyone’s body will have the same reaction or progression. Every individual is different, so the key is finding what works for you. The following are some beginner guidelines to help you get off on the right foot.
There are many good reasons to get healthy. One of the most obvious and common reasons being to look and feel better physically, which can lead to confidence and improved mental health. Others include keeping medical bills low, living longer for your kids or grandchildren, and avoiding illness. We want to thrive, not just survive! Take the first steps today towards a new and improved you.
- Drink Water
Drinking water is critically important to your health, but often overlooked. Water does amazing things for your body, including: maintaining fluid balance, transporting nutrients to the rest of the body, regulating body temperature, digesting food, and cleansing the skin. Additionally, water will give you extra energy when you are exercising. If you want to lose weight and get healthy, put down the sugary sodas and juices and start drinking lots of water. This will also decrease your risk for conditions such as diabetes and obesity. It is commonly recommended you drink eight 8oz glasses per day, or approximately half a gallon.
Drinking water has a strong correlation with weight loss. Studies have shown that water will help you lose weight because it makes you feel fuller, sooner. In a sense, water can be used as a calorie controller.
Exercise is one of the most important things you must do to lose weight and stay healthy. Weight loss will occur when you are burning more calories than your body is taking in through food. Increased intensity and duration will result in more calories being burned. It is recommended you get 30-60 minutes of active exercise per day. While this is not always possible with busy schedules, try some other ways of getting active throughout the day. Examples include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the door, and walking short distances instead of driving.
In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise will also defend against some serious health conditions such as heart disease, strokes, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, depression, arthritis, and even some types of cancer.
Furthermore, exercising will improve your mood! When you exercise, endorphins are released into your brain. These chemicals trigger a “happy feeling” in the brain, thus improving your overall feeling of well-being.
Sleep is very important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and losing weight. According to a study done by Columbia University, “People who sleep less than 7 hours per night are heavier, gain more weight over time, and have a harder time losing weight” (Women’s Health Mag). Getting enough sleep every night is crucial for your body to function at its best, as well as to give you energy. Getting enough sleep will also directly affect your eating habits. Being tired effectively dulls the activity happening in your brain, specifically in the frontal lobe. This area of the brain is responsible for decision making and impulse control. If you do not get enough sleep, you will be more likely to eat larger portions, which ultimately can result in weight gain. According to an article on WebMD called Sleep more, weigh
less, “researchers found that a lack of sleep led to increased cravings for energy-dense, high carbohydrate foods.” If you want to feel energized, as well as have control of your eating habits and portions, be sure to get enough sleep every night.
Good nutrition is one of the keys to living a healthy lifestyle. Simply changing the food you eat, or the amount you eat, can have a drastic change on your body. Here are some of the best foods to eat that are healthy and good for your body:
Eggs– Eggs are high in protein, healthy fats, and low in calories. Best of all, they fill you up because they are very nutrient dense.
Leafy Greens– Vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collards are great example of leafy greens that are low in carbs and calories, but have tons of fiber. Providing the body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, leafy greens are very nutritious.
Cruciferous Vegetables– This includes vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts. These are filling, and high in fiber and protein.
Fish– Fish including salmon and tuna are very healthy and nutritionally beneficial. They are high in quality protein and healthy fats, but low in calories. Fish can be a very delicious and satisfying meal!
Lean Beef & Chicken Breast– These meats are high in protein- which in turn will help you to burn more calories. Always try and avoid processed meats as they are consistently linked to harmful health effects.
Beans & Legumes– beans and legumes such as Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, and soy beans are rich in healthy fibers and protein. Legumes are one of the best plant based sources of protein, which is why vegetarians often use them as a replacement for meat in their meals.
Nuts– Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios make a great snack. They have a good balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Additionally, they can help improve metabolic health.
- Over- Eating/ Portion Control
It is critically important that you not only eat healthy foods, but also eat the right size portions. For starters, it is important to always have breakfast. Although you may think skipping that first meal will help you lose weight, it may have the opposite effect. When the body goes that long without food, it begins to store and hold onto fat because it goes into starvation mode, not knowing when your body will be able to eat next. People who eat breakfast regularly do tend to lose more weight. Eating regularly will also help maintain a regular metabolism.
To keep your food in appropriate portions, we suggest keeping measuring cups and spoons handy for portion control. Also, cutting up your food into smaller pieces tends to help you feel more full, or at least make the meal last longer. When you are full, listen to your body. So many of us continue to eat after the point of being full either because it tastes good or we just don’t know when to stop. Utilize tools such as food journals or calorie trackers online to track your progress and to help learn what works best for you.