7 Tips To Kickstart Your Healthy Lifestyle
Are you ready to start your healthy journey but don’t know where or how to go about it? Or perhaps you’ve tried several times but still find yourself against a wall? While there are a million steps you can find on the internet, here are some simple tips that have helped me most along the way.
Inventory. Take a closer look into your pantry and eating habits. This is the best way to start so you can define how you eat and take control of it. As cliche as it sounds - “we are what we eat”. What did you eat during the last days? What did you snack on? Do you have a regular eating pattern? Is your pantry full of sugar-full snacks and processed foods? When you open your fridge or cupboards to cook a meal, what ingredients do you see?
To do - get rid of all processed and white flour foods in your pantry, in fact, don’t buy them e.g. cookies, sugar loaded cereals, pasta, powdered milk, white breads, chips, soda etc. Go shopping in the fresh market or supermarket and stock up on healthy choices: lentils, vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, nuts, dried fruits, legumes, gluten free oats. Ingredients that are as close to their natural state as possible - from mother earth.
Detox. Your liver and kidneys are working very hard to digest your food and make sure your system is working properly. We brush our teeth, wash our hair, take a bath. But how about inside? How do we clean them? It’s impossible to take a brush and scrub your liver or lungs. So the next step you want to do is detox your system.
To do - For the next two weeks, avoid all sort of processed foods. If it’s difficult for you, try a week and see how much better you’ll feel, your skin will look clearer. While doing this, please don’t starve. Look for healthier options to substitute with. It’s also helpful if you can stick to a detox food plan or a detox tea, like this one.
Hydrate. You’ve heard this before: 60% of the human body is water. It’s true. Do you agree that drinking 2 liters of water a day everyday could some times feel like a task? I mean that’s the way I feel on some days.
To do - Smoothies are a great way to stay hydrated - yes they count as liquids because most of the time, they’re mixed with water or milk. So it’s more practical to aim for 1 liter - 1.5 liters of water per day + 1 to 2 smoothies per day which makes staying hydrated more exciting & colourful. You could also add fresh lemon slices to your water.
Avoid gluten, refined sugar and processed foods. If I could give only one health advice, it would be this one, because this is what made the biggest, most profound change in my life. Let’s face it, most of the processed foods are high in refined sugar, wheat, preservatives, additives, colourings. Whenever we crave those junk snacks, those are the times when we ultimately want something sweet. Plain and simple. We don’t have to push that craving away, that’s suffering. My point is that there’s other ways to satisfy this sugar craving which we all have.
To do - Rather than grabbing a snickers bar, why not medjool dates or a banana? Try making this energy ball which you can stock up on for when you want something sweet. I’m working on a cookie recipe coming soon. If you want some french fries, why not chop some potatoes and put it in the oven to roast rather than deep frying?
Exercise - what comes to mind when you think of exercise? Most probably a gym and 10 kilometers of running right? You don‘t need to do all that. I mean the standard sprint once a week will do your body good but what is most important in exercise is consistency. There‘s no point doing intensive training for the first week and then kissing your gym membership goodbye because your body aches all over.
To do - It’s better to strive for a routine that you can maintain for a longer period of time for example, walk 30 minutes every day or 20 minutes yoga and 10 minutes running. I personally never exercise for more than 30 minutes, and it’s usually very relaxed. I don’t have a gym membership. When your routine is hard, it becomes difficult to continue. On the contrary, when your routine is easy and relaxed, you’re excited for it!
Cooking over eating out. This is one of the most important things you could do. If you eat out for lunch and dinner all the time, it means you’re relying on other people to nourish you. Other people decide what you put into your body. Every single day. When we cook, we can directly see and navigate what goes into our bodies. I mean wouldn’t you like to select and choose the elements that nourish you? If I could go back to my teenage years, I know that I’ll definitely do it over again - rather than eating all those snicker bars, cheese balls and oreo cookies. Of course, I eat out once in a while and I love to discover new restaurants, but it’s the exception, not the rule.
To do - believe me, we all have busy lives. Start small, look for recipes that are quick to the point and easy. You don’t have to spend two hours in the kitchen just to make dinner. Greens, greens, greens. Tell yourself that you’ll feel better in the long run, try to integrate as much greens into your daily diet as possible. If you don’t like the taste, put them in smoothies. What helps me a lot is making a big dinner so it serves as lunch the next day.
Sleep. Many times we underestimate the necessities or benefits of an eight hour-disturbance-free sleep. But study has shown that sleep deprivation (6 hours a day or less) deteriorates the brain, ages your skin, leads to depression, affects your ability to retain information, to learn, and may increase the risk of accidents due to your lack of concentration. Over a long period of time, it can lead to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and serious health issues.
To do - track your sleeping pattern for a week - record what time you go to bed and what time you wake up. If you’re getting less than 7 hours a day, you know what to do next. It’s also advisable to go offline (phone, laptop, ipad, TV, all screens) two hours prior to your bed time, so that your brain slowly comes down before you sleep.