Most people fail at a lifestyle change in the first 2 months. Why? Because they make too many dramatic changes that are not sustainable, and/or they don’t see results instantly so give up. A healthier lifestyle is relatively simple. And contrary to what you may think, it’s not about going to the gym 7 days a week and living on superfoods.
- Drink 2 litres of water a day, more if you can. Our bodies should be at least 50% water but due to lack of water consumption and over consumption of diuretics our bodies are not optimally hydrated. This can have all sorts of impact on short term goals but more importantly long-term health. People seem to find this one hard. The same people can guzzle 10 pints of beer or 3 bottles of wine at the weekend. That’s 5.68 litres of beer or 2.25 litres wine. You need to form a habit. I bring a 2 litre bottle with me everywhere I go. Others, refill a smaller bottle. Make it a priority.
- Preparation is the key to success. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This can relate to many parts of a healthy lifestyle. Firstly, making sure you have your water with you wherever you go. Then, food preparation. Ever heard it’s 70% food, 30% exercise, well they didn’t lie. I usually do a large food shop. I then pick 2 days in the week where I have a little extra time. I prepare all my meals for the week and either refrigerate or freeze the main meals. I usually go for a Sunday and Wednesday. That way I know exactly what I am eating each day. There is no room for ‘bad food choices’. This also saves time and money. But if you are someone who eats out, make sure you are going to a place that will facilitate you for your goals. Lastly, making time for exercise. We all have the same hours in the day. Yes, things will come in the way of that but let’s prioritise it. Even better, let’s make it an appointment. You wouldn’t ditch a doctor’s appointment so let’s make this as much of a priority. And if you have to work it around your busy schedule, do that.
- Try base most of your foods on one ingredient whole foods. Foods include: Meat, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit.
- Limit processed foods and excessive treats. Trans fats are found in a lot of fried food and cannot be broken down by the body. They contribute to high cholesterol, weight gain and can increase risk of stroke and heart attacks. Too much sugar in the diet can ultimately lead to problems with blood glucose levels and in severe cases can cause type 2 diabetes. So limit these foods to once or twice a week
- Increase your NEAT activity. Non Exercise Activity thermogenesis is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports like exercise. Trying to increase your daily steps (10,000 per day is the aim). This can be done by walking or cycling to work, taking stairs instead of elevators and parking further away so you need to walk.
- Find exercise you enjoy. You will adhere to it better if you enjoy it. So, if it’s weights, spinning, boxing, football, kayaking or Pilates. Go do it. There is no ‘better’ exercise than the one you can adhere to. Now, when you’ve got into a routine, you can start looking outside of that exercise. I usually say do 80% of the exercise you like and 20% of what you NEED. So if you’re an avid runner, run 80% of the time but 20% of your time should be what you need like resistance training or pilates. If you love powerlifting, try spinning once or twice a week.
- Calories count – No matter what diet you try ultimately all that matters is that your calories in are less than your calories out. If you want to go low carb, low fat, keto, paleo is up to you. That’s if weight loss is your goal. If weight maintenance is the goal, calories in must be the same as calories out.
These are simple starting points to a healthier lifestyle. Once you’ve mastered these you can start looking into supplements, organic foods and the latest fitness fad. Ultimately, you want to find a process that you can stick to and that adapts to you and your lifestyle.