Four Easy Steps to Beginning a Healthy Lifestyle
There's no reason to wait until New Years or a few months before summer to start developing healthy habits when we can start right now. Not tomorrow, not next week -- TODAY! Dieters give up on their health goals are because their goals are too general and aren't sustainable. Also, dieters tend to abandon their goals before seeing real progress because they try to make big changes too fast and get discouraged when those high expectations aren't met. There's no reason to go big or go home when beginning a healthy lifestyle. It starts with small changes to bad habits in your life which will add up to big results and accomplishments. Here are four easy tips on how to start changing your life, today.
Write Down Your Goals
This should be your first step. Picture yourself at your best and write down what you need to do to get there. So, if your goal is to fit into those pair of jeans in your closet that are too tight to wear, then create steps and milestones on how to fit into them again.
Writing down your goals also serves as a motivator, so when you surpass one milestone, you're excited to complete another. Keep a list of your goals in a place where you look at them every day to stay motivated. This is especially helpful when those down days make you feel like you aren't making any progress.
Make your goals attainable too. If you gained 40 pounds in a year, don't expect to lose 40 pounds in a month or two. When I first started working with my trainer, I understood that I wasn't going to lose all of the weight I gained throughout the year and was happy with just losing a pound or two in the beginning. The goal was, and is today, to lose at least a pound every week. Even if a pound seems disappointing, keep in mind that the losses add up.
This is similar to the last section, but worth repeating because big changes don't happen overnight. If you've gained a lot of weight, chances are you didn't gain that weight overnight and that means you won't lose it overnight either. The same applies to the habits that helped you gain that weight. But, changing one or two bad habits at a time into good habits can make a world of difference. Trying to eliminate all of your bad habits at once can have the opposite effect and lead to many, many, binge eating sessions. I know this because I've lived it....more times than I'd like to admit.
A few years ago, I was drinking Dr. Pepper several times a day and eating junk food nearly every morning before class, for lunch and pretty much every weekend. It wasn't until I saw a picture of myself on vacation when I decided to make a change. The first thing I did was stop drinking soda and then reduce my visits to fast food restaurants to twice a week. Over time, I was eating fast food once a month and eating the majority of my meals at home. Throw in a daily jog or run around the neighborhood and those jeans in my closet started to fit just right.
Don't Diet -- Eat Real Food and Cook at Home
Yes, the girl with the food blog is definitely going to tell you to eat real food and start throwing down in the kitchen. I don't care if you don't ever cook, if you think you don't have time to cook or if think you're a terrible cook. Google is free and anyone can follow a recipe (heh, that rhymed). The $5 or $10 a day you spend on your lunch break can go towards buying vegetables, fruit, lean meat and other healthy goods at the supermarket. If you're really craving burgers and fries, make it at home where you can control the ingredients instead of a restaurant where they may add too much salt and fat.
I love chocolate and could easily buy a brownie from the bakery by my house or I could make my salted black bean brownies and have the same satisfaction. The same foods you love can be made in your kitchen and it can be a lot of fun recreating those dishes. Your body will also thank you for the introduction to fresh foods and will start to reject the ones without any nutritional value.
Psst...if you ever need ideas or tips on how to eat better or recipe ideas, subscribe to my website or send me an e-mail and we can chat. :-)
Build a Support System
Gosh is this ever so important! Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to stay on the path to becoming your best self. These people should be your cheerleaders and won't do anything to sabotage your progress. This means when you're craving a big, bacon cheeseburger with everything on it, they will tell you to eat chicken breast and vegetables instead. (S/O to my friends who say that on my Facebook statuses. I love and loathe you guys, lol). Think about who you're closest to and confide in them about your goals and ask them to help you reach them. True friends won't have an issue with that at all.
Seriously, I don't think I could have made the progress I've made without my support system. It helps that they're also into fitness, but I like that I can talk to them about my diet, training, and struggles. On my bad days, I go to them for encouragement and their support helps me to keep going.
Enjoy the Journey!
There you have it! Four super easy ways to start a healthy lifestyle today. Enjoy the journey. There will be highs and lows. There will be days when you want to give up and go back to your old habits. Hell, there will be days when you may briefly go back to them but keep in mind it's a lifestyle change. There's no rush to look like Beyoncé tomorrow or even in a year, just focus on being and doing better than the day before. Take progress pictures to stay motivated. Keep going bit by bit and have fun! Your efforts will add up and you'll get to where you want to be.
Tell me about what tips you have for others who want to eat and live better in the comments! Be sure to share on social media with your friends and family! Maybe my tips will help them too!