Indulgence seems to be a way of life in North America, and it is probably the cause of most of our health problems. Indulging in food, drink, shopping, time watching TV or using gadgets, sitting… Most of us believe that moderation is the key to a healthy, balanced life, but then why do many of us indulge rather than moderate in the various areas of our lives?
Unfortunately, neither the gym, nor diets, nor supplements are replacements for a healthy lifestyle. They may provide support, or give you a kick start, but too much of anything is not a good thing. The most important step you can take to keep your New Year’s resolutions and get on the road to a healthier you is to take each moment, each decision, and make a better choice, one choice at a time. Try to keep each of these factors in mind when trying to achieve your wellness goals:
Stress: Did you know that stress leads to weight gain, depression, inactivity, unhealthy eating and sleeping patterns, inflammation and so much more? Identify just one area of stress in your life, confront it and resolve it. Your entire body will thank you for it!
Portion Sizes: Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Each time you put food on your plate, ask yourself: can I really eat all this? Do I really need seconds? Will I be full half way through but feel like I should finish?
Sweets: The more sugar you eat, the more you will crave. The less sugar you eat, the less you will crave. Ask yourself whether you’ll feel sugared out by eating an entire dessert, or whether a few bites would satisfy while you’d be saving some for later.
Eat Fresh: Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, with minimal processing and minimal cooking (depending on the food, since some foods actually require some cooking for certain benefits or for safety). Overcooking often kills a lot of the healthy enzymes and proteins in fresh foods. For example, instead of boiling your broccoli to death, try a light steam or sauté so there’s still a bit of crunch.
Eat Fresh More Often: Who says you can’t have vegetables for breakfast? Live (raw) food actually helps you digest your food and is packed with nutrition. Try adding a fresh food (preferably a vegetable, but fruits are good too) to each meal. If you usually eat grains for breakfast, try half an apple beforehand. Or add some avocado to your eggs and toast.
Sleep: 7-8 hours quality sleep is optimal. Stress, busyness and electronics steal a lot of our sleep time. Next time you think, Just one more episode, or, I just have to check something online, remember that there’s always tomorrow. You just might fall asleep sooner if you turn it off, and you’ll feel better the next day.
Activity: We all know exercise is good for us, but most of us have a hard time making ourselves get some of it. If you don’t do well with seemingly pointless activity, try giving yourself a purpose for your exercise, like stopping at the grocery store during a walk, or resolve to take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you’re a gym buff who thinks they can relax and indulge because you had your workout, think again: research shows that people who have active lifestyles on a daily basis actually burn more calories than people who just go to a gym and then think they can relax the rest of the day. The key is to do something a little more active each opportunity you get, at any moment in your day.
Social Support: Everything is easier with a friend. It’s very hard to stay motivated on your own. The best thing you can do is find someone who has similar goals or ideas and work towards them together. You will help keep each other accountable and motivate one another to make the right choices.
New Year’s Resolutions usually don’t stick because they generally involve a massive transition. But the more effective change strategies are made one choice at a time, one moment at a time: that’s all it takes!
Have a tip you’d like to share, that’s helped you stay healthy? Leave a comment below and let us know!