I'm going to share with you 10 of my current habits and how I try to go for a healthy lifestyle. Some of these are common sense, some are some personal advice. Anyway, this is info I gathered when I was looking for tips and advice to lose weight and feel better around 2 years ago. I went from 80 kg to 60 kg in the past year and ever since I have maintained my weight and my health.
Cut on empty calories
And salty foods, saturated fats, soft drinks and snacks rich in sugar
All of the above are examples of what you should avoid the most, both in meals and during the day. Our body needs nutrients to work properly, and plenty of them. Proteins to construct and regenerate muscle mass, carbohydrates to fuel and give energy, fat to satiate hunger, vitamins and anti-oxidants to strengthen the immunity system and water to make everything work.
Empty calories are calories that contain little, to no nutrients of the above. An example of those would be refined white sugar contained in candies and soft drinks. It's an empty white carb with no real nutritional value and only serves to feed caprices. White sugars are rapidly digested and absorbed by the body, easily accumaled as fat and leave you hungry and wanting for more since it is not giving the body what it needs.
By this I don't mean to say to completely cut on empty carbs! I like my chocolate and piece of cake once in a while. What I mean to say is to control and reduce their consumption, and learn how to choose richer sweets and less sugary-drinks.
Eat green, red and yellow!
Have colourful meals
Fruits, vegetables and legumes are all your friends! The health benefits of natural foods are immense, and everyday something new and amazing is discovered about a fruit or a vegetable.
These foods are rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and fibres. Fibres help your digestive system by giving it more time to digest and absorb nutrients (to put it simple) and are of great importance to have a body with less fat.
Learn to replace cakes, waffles and snickers with apples, bananas and oranges. Grab a handful of berries or grapes before or after a main meal. Give your main meals the company of vegetables.
Tip: You can easily sauté frozen veggies with mushrooms, onions and garlic in olive oil and make a delicious and healthy accompaniment to rice dishes, pastas or meats.
When you wake up, have breakfast!
Never leave home without a meal in your stomach
This should be a no-brainer, but I see it everyday. Among family members, in work, I saw it in school, etc and etc.
When waking up, your body is hungry and thirsty, so the first thing you should do is drink one or two glasses of water. In an hour or two have a meal, and have a good one, the first meal of the day is the most important one. A nice breakfast will provide the body with very much needed nutrients, it will energize you for the day and greatly reduces the risk of going for unhealthy snacks or overeating later.
People leave home and go to their businesses without eating first all the time! Even if you are healthy, even if you are fit, leaving your stomach empty for long periods of time will have its negative impacts in the long run. Better be safe now than sorry in the future.
Move your body once in a while
Exercise is important to keep your body working in the best possible way. If you don't move often, your metabolism will eventually slow down, fat starts accumulating in the arteries, the risk of heart diseases rise and you will feel unwell and energyless more frequently.
Doing exercise doesn't necessarily mean "get out and go running!" It's understandable as well that most people nowadays don't have the time, or the time they have they would rather spend it doing something they actually enjoy. I completely understand that and feel the same way. Just try to find out what is the best way to include some exercise in your life, mine is to go running when I have the time, it helps me "unplug" from the world and keep in shape.
Try to include some of these routines in your daily life: Go up and down stairs more often avoiding elevators and automatic stairs. Stretch your body often when you are long periods of time sitting or at work. Move your arms and legs, move your neck, contract your abs when doing chores. Do some squats when watching a movie or TV, try to go for some push-ups or leg-raises on the couch during breaks. If you have a day off and don't have much to do, go for some jogging, you'll feel good when you get home.
Spread your meals during the day
Avoid having super-meals
Everyone loves those dinners when you start with appetizers, go for some soup, then the main dish and then the second dish! Have some beverages and finish with a spectacular dessert! Now this is great and I love it, but then again, once in a while.
The best way to keep your body well-fed, avoid hunger impulses and those parts of the day when you feel sleepy and without energy, is to keep eating! Pick up small meals every two or three hours. Have a nice breakfast, have a meal during the morning, pick-up a fruit before lunch, have a light lunch, eat a wholegrain bread slice with ham in the afternoon and have a light dinner.
I believe this routine is the best to avoid food-craves and keep you satiated during the day. When you go to college or to work, take some fruit, liquid yogurt and cereal bars with you. Never deny your body of food when it needs, and keep those special dinners for special occasions.
Spice it up!
Give your food that seasoning
Many people have no idea of the benefits of spices. These wonders give color and exotic flavors to any food and their health benefits are undeniable.
A great number of spices also have a thermic effect on your body. Have you ever bitten a raw chilli pepper? This means that these foods raise the metabolism and at the same time demand that more calories are spent in order to digest the food. This is a good thing because we want our metabolism working fast to avoid those fat deposits in our body.
Chilli Pepper is great for the lovers of hot and spicy foods! You also have cinnamon whose health benefits have been comproved a number of times and is great to add to desserts. Saffron is ideal for rice and pasta and is full of anti-oxidants and health benefits (especially when combined with black pepper). And garlic is a natural source of benefits that should never be denied to your seasonings.
Nuts are great snacks
If you are like me and love nuts, then this way of keeping yourself healthy is as easy as done!
Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and all the other nuts are nutritional bombs for your body! They are full of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, can help fulfil those craves of biting something, are great friends (or substitutes!) of chocolates, cakes and pies and will make you full if you are hungry.
Be careful though, do not indulge in these en mass! They are nature's most caloric healthy way of saying "have a snack"! Have a few here and there, no more than a handful per serving.
Tip: Combine nuts with dark chocolate to make a great and healthy snack! Dark chocolate (the darkest the better) is full of health benefits and can even help you lose weight due to its nutrients, anti-oxidants and thermic properties. If eaten in moderate quantities.
Replace white carbs with wholegrain foods
Wholegrains keep you full for longer
And it's not only that, wholegrains are the best way to stay in shape and keep your energy.
The problem of most grain foods is that they lose most nutrients and natural fibre when processed. The trick here is to try to replace these for their more natural versions. As the name says, replace the whites (white rice, white flour, white bread, white sugar) for their natural, wholegrain or brown versions.
My main grip with this point is that these foods are generally more expensive than their processed counterparts which is a huge bummer. I guess the problem is that the demand is much inferior, and so, less demand equals to less products, less competition and higher prices for the end consumer.
Drink lots of water
Water is the source of life
You drink water when you are thirsty or when you eat salty or spicy foods! However your body needs water for many more reasons.
Water cleans the body by removing those unwanted toxins away from it, maintains the balance of body fluids, helps energizing the muscles, purifies the skin, makes your bowels and kidneys function properly and benefit your body on so many more levels.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but no cell in this world can function without water at one point in time or another. And never ever forget to drink water first thing in the morning. This simple act will make a huge difference in your wellbeing and behaviour of your body through the day. It will also help to keep you in good shape.
Tip: For those of you who are struggling to lose weight the healthy way, use your lemons! Lemons have numerous health benefits and alkaline properties. Alkaline foods counter the effect of acid-forming foods. Lemons cleanse your body from harmful toxins, remove fat deposits, not to mention it aids your body functions in so many more ways. I found out that the best way to use lemons to aid in weight loss is to drink sugar-free lemon-water first thing in the morning.
Last, but not least: EAT!
If you want to be healthy or even to lose weight, you need to eat
I know this seems as a cheap way to fulfil the 10th spot, but believe me when I say it isn't.
The human body is a complex machine, and as the machine it is, it needs to be maintained to function properly. More than that, a machine needs to be maintained with care to keep functioning in the future. Invest in your body today and keep feeling well and healthy tomorrow.
Not everyone is the same, and some advice don't apply the same for me as they apply for you. My main advice is, take some of each step of the above and make it work for you, find a balance and good things will eventually happen.
A final tip: Some of my favorite foods to stop you from thinking of this as a cheap way to end my article!
-Smoke Salmon: Anti-inflammatory, rich in healthy fats and Omega 3 (good for your heart) and rich in protein. Salmon is one of the richest foods in nature and a delight to eat! Always try to find room in your menu for fatty fish (Salmon, Tuna, Sardines and Mackerel) some of the best fat and protein sources out there. Don't be shy in going for the canned!
-Eggs: Another source of protein, delicious and fast to prepare! They can go different ways and variety is king! Always have some protein in your meals.
-Wholegrain rice with veggies: You need your carbs, your fibre and your veggies. It's so simple and easy to prepare. Just add some veggies to your rice.
-Sautéed Mushrooms with Onions, Garlic and Red Bell Pepper: Delicious, easy to prepare and friends with all type of meats and pastas.
-Seeds: Seeds are also nutritional bombs as I like to call my almonds. They are tasty and crunchy and can be added to salads or eaten just like that! Some cheap and easily found seeds I like to have a flask of always at home include: pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds.
-Fat-free milk: Honestly I don't notice that much of a difference. I find it tasty, it's a low-calorie source of calcium and protein and is the best friend of my cereals, wholegrain biscuits and dark chocolate muesli oatmeal!
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