Become healthier by making a few easy changes!
When last did you meet an indisputably stringent health nut intent on racking up the years with hours in the gym and unsavory soy products? In this day and age, if you still find someone willing to sit down to a HOME COOKED meal and eat with his/her family at the dining table (Still remember what a dining table is?), consider yourself lucky! You have a better chance of spotting a leopard buying a fur coat.
Unfortunately, most of us don't have that much time on our hands anymore, juggling work, kids, spouses and various tasks everyday. So for most of us, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a bit of a challenge. It's no wonder a lot of us are sporting a few extra rolls (and I am not talking about the bread variety!).
Good news is, you don't have to turn into a nutritionist/personal trainer/Madonna in order to keep your mind and body happy and healthy! You can easily become healthier by just adjusting a few minor details of your current lifestyle.
Things You Will NeedThe following tips are not only easy to apply to your daily life, but you will see results faster than you can shout "Supersize that for me!" You won't need much apart from an open mind and an innovative shopping list.
Fats and Oils
One of the easiest ways to get rid of a few extra pounds is to simply replace your bad fat intake with good fat. Instead of always cooking your food with sunflower oil or butter, rather use canola oil or even better yet, olive oil. Not only will your heart be tickled pink by this little modification, but you might notice that your scale doesn't groan so much when you are on it! Granted, olive oil is more expensive than regular sunflower oil, but there is no substitute for the health benefits it has.
Replacing all your "white flour" products with the wholegrain variety, can have a massive impact on your health. Not only will you lose a few pounds, you will stay fuller for longer, have more energy and have regular bowel movements.
Wholegrain food have a lower glycemic index (GI) which means that it releases energy in your body at a much slower rate. In turn, that means that you won't be hungry an hour later, so you won't grab the nearest takeaway item at hand. (This has happened to me more often than people grabbing for tissues at an Oprah show!)
Having sustained energy throughout the day also means that you won't "crash" as often. What I mean by crash is, once you eat something with a high GI, you immediately have energy in your system which makes you feel great, but it also wears off quicker, which makes you feel sluggish and tired again at a very fast rate.
So introducing wholegrains, be it bread, pasta, pizza bases or wraps is the best bet for feeling (and looking!) better.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
A lot of us have fallen into the trap of buying frozen vegetables. Hey, I don't blame you, they are quicker and easier to make, why wouldn't you buy them? Here's why you should rather opt for the fresh variety:
Nothing has more benefits for your body as a daily intake of FRESH fruit and vegetables. The best way to eat any fruit or vegetables is raw. Raw vegetables retain all of their healthy nutrients and vitamins, where as it tends to lose some of the nutrients when it's being cooked. It is a bit difficult to only eat your vegetables raw, but keep in mind, if you steam or cook it, the vegetables must still be "crisp". If it's cooked until limp and lifeless, chances are that most of the nutrients have been lost. Fruit and vegetables are also a natural source of fibre which is great news for your digestive system!
If you are not fond of fruit and vegetables, or more likely if your children don't like it, an easy way to incorporate it into their diet is by chucking it into a blender. You can add this to all kinds of food, from muffins to omelettes and your child will be none the wiser! Another great thing about pureeing vegetables or fruit is that you can quite easily store the mixture for later use.
Bake rather than Fry
Baking your food, rather than frying it, reduces a lot of fat intake. As well as making your food more tasty, baking it means that you do not have to use copious amounts of oil or butter to fry your food in. Granted, using canola or olive oil is better for you, but using less oil than neccesary is the best option.
A great example of a delicious healthy alternative I have found, is to bake your fries. Kids love it, the fries are still crispy, addictively delicious and a lot more convenient to make!
* Peel and slice four large potatoes thinly
*Place in a suitable casserole dish
*Drizzle olive oil over
*Spice up with a bit of salt, herbs and garlic
*Bake in the oven until deliciously crisp and golden
See, now how easy do you want it?
Caffeine and Nicotine
Quit TODAY. Need I say more? Okay, quiting coffee entirely may be a bit extreme, as I know that I myself am like a cavewoman without my morning cuppa, barely able to do more than give an occasional grunt. Try to limit it though, caffeine is addictive and can be harmful in large doses. Limit yourself to at most 4 cups a day. You will feel better, trust me. Try having a cup of green tea instead. It might not taste the same, but you will be aiding weight loss, fighting free radicals and lowering your chances of cancer and heart disease!
Cigarettes on the other hand, apart from making you smell terrible, costing a fortune and aging you faster than you can reach for the anti-wrinkle cream, it is a terrible health hazard. No big explanation needed here. Just quit.
Water. 6 to 8 glasses a day. No exceptions! Not only does water not contain any calories, actually aides weight loss, keep you hydrated, flush out toxins, but it's free! (Apart from some countries where you can't drink tap water, but hey, it's still cheap!)
Diets do generally work, but most only work for a short period. Somehow, one night while you are off in dreamland, someone replaces your newly obtained Cindy Crawford thighs with dented, wobbly one's again. That's because once you start eating your favorite food again after your wonderful success on your rabbit food diet, your body naturally resorts back to it's old way of being. Rather maintain a healthy eating pattern. It may take longer, but the results tend to be continuous.
Easy ways to manage your weight (and your chocolate fixated mind) is to eat throughout the day. Call it grazing if you will. Just eat smaller and healthier meals or snacks during the day to keep you filled up. Listen to your body, it knows what it wants! (and no, chocolate cake doesn't count on a daily basis!), but seriously, eat when you are hungry and STOP when you feel sated. I know, I know, but that feeling of nausea is NOT when you are full. You should stop sooner!
Have treats! Once in a while though. Have that delicious chocolate winking at you! Have your glass of red wine (in fact, it has been proven that having DARK chocolate, I am talking more than 70% cocoa and a glass of red once in a while, is very beneficial for your heart. Yay!), you can have whatever your heart desires, but all in moderation.
Get Enough Sleep
Do I even have to elaborate? They don't call it beauty sleep for nothing. Make sure to get atleast 8 hours of sleep every night.
If you want to be healthy, you have to get exercise. No exceptions. That doesn't mean that you have to slave off in a gym completely filled with Kate Moss and Brad Pitt lookalikes. Just get moving! Take the stairs, instead of the lift. Take a walk with your dog. Dance. Jump for joy. Just get moving! Not only will you feel good (thank you endorphins!), but it will gradually get easier, you will end up wanting more and getting over the perception that exercise is dreary.
Live your Life
The easiest way to stay healthy is to just live! Spend time with your family, with your kids, with your pets! Appreciate them, enjoy the love! This may sound silly, but it's true. Have confidence, hold your head high and bask in your own beauty, help other people and see how good that can make you feel, knowing you contributed to someone else's life! Do the mundane things that make you happy. Pick flowers, ride your bike, sing in the shower or do crosswords (which by the way is a great way to keep your mind sharp and healthy!), just do whatever makes YOU happy!
Most importantly (trust me on this one), count your blessings and laugh. Every single day.
I wish you a happy journey on your way to a healthier life!