I have always been a moderately healthy and fit person, but it wasn’t until this year that I started to educate myself on nutrition and health.
Why now? Well, as I pursued my master’s while managing full-time work and an active social life, I soon found myself getting tired, constantly needing to nap, feeling unsociable and unable to concentrate and perform my best. I decided I needed energy and wanted it the natural way. Managing a healthy, balanced diet and fitness routine has worked wonders for my general fitness, physical appearance, energy levels, mood and focus and it also helped rid me of migraines (endured since my teens) and eczema (that I have had since a baby!).
Now I know many of us try to “eat healthy.” We may start the day or week off great and then fall off the wagon, at which point we think what the hell, may as well continue the “cheat day” and start a fresh Monday…when we fall off again! Same with the gym— we get into the mojo for a few weeks and then our new slick gym outfit and glossy new gym membership card start to lose their novelty.
With this in mind, here are a few tips on how I managed to reach a healthy balanced diet with little grief:
1. Have a meaningful purpose.
It is one thing to want to lose a couple of pounds or fit into those jeans you wore when you were 16, but there is more to health than looks. Think about what you will gain from having more energy, glowing skin, better sleep and feeling great. It could be anything from becoming a better role model for your children to combating a life disease such as diabetes. Whatever it is, write it down and remind yourself of the purpose of your eating activity everyday.
2. Buy a water bottle.
Water is essential for a good health. It is said we should drink between two to three liters of water today depending on our activity. Drink and food consumption can often be mindless and habitual, so why not make your water consumption the same? I find a bottle with a suction teat is best!
3. Surround yourself with healthy people and a healthy environment.
I am not saying get rid of all your unhealthy friends! But try to work with your existing ones in learning about healthy eating, choosing healthy dishes when eating out and learn from others around you that practice healthy eating. It will gradually incorporate itself into your day-to-day lifestyle, which is what you want for long term gain.
4. Educate yourself.
There is no point trying to follow a diet or eat the “new trendy” thing this week if you don’t particularly enjoy it and are still left with cravings. When you understand why certain foods are good for you, what they are doing for you and become more aware of your bodily response to them, you will be able to create a healthy eating plan suited to your needs and start to have new healthy cravings in response to your body callings. Avoiding the enduring task of a food checklist or calorie counting but create a preferred lifestyle of eating that fits your lifestyle. Here are a few ideas in educating yourself on Nutrition:
• “Like” health and nutrition pages on Facebook.
We are all guilty of scrolling through the newsfeed, so why not fill it with educational and fruitful information?
• Watch documentaries.
If you are like me and do not always feel like reading, then documentaries are a brilliant, entertaining way to educate oneself. (Netflix has a couple of good ones and I also have a list under the “books/videos” tab.)
• Subscribe to a health & nutrition magazine.
They are quick easy reads that have a great source of information. You can even subscribe via email so it becomes a quick commuter read en route to work. You can also pick them up for free at some local health food stores or Whole Foods
I find that the more I exercise, in collaboration with educating myself on what my body needs through nutrition, the more I am focused on feeding my body the nutrients to better perform when I next show up at the gym. You also tend not want to eat crappy when you have just had a great work out!
6. Pre-cook dinners.
It can be tempting after a long day to avoid the task of cooking dinner and, instead, turn to fast food. So what better way than to have your dinner waiting when you get home? I normally dedicate a few hours on my weekend to making a super large bowl of salad and a cooked meal that I divide up into portions and keep refrigerated.
7. Pre-plan meals.
I read a lot about meal planning which is great when your meal is pre-made, but when you do not have one and are therefore giving yourself an option it is likely to lean towards a more unhealthy, easy purchase choice. So when you step out on that lunch break, do not let the alluring advertisements reel you in. Think mindfully about what you are going to choose before you step out the door.
8. Aim for One Simple Principle.
Eat non-processed foods! If you mindfully observe and decide whether to consume any presented food options with this principle in mind, you will be sure to make the right choice.
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