Hello, friends! Along my journey to better health, I have discovered some things that I have found to be vital for maintaining a healthy and happy life. Last week I shared 5 of the things that have helped me. You can find Part One of my list of tips here, in case you missed it. This week, I’ll be giving you 5 more.
I hope you found the advice for healthy living in my last post helpful! Today I am sharing some more things I have tried and found to work for keeping me on track with my diet, as well as helping me to stick with it for just over a year now!
Here are my 5 tips for you:
Drink plenty of water.
This is so very important; that’s why I’m including this tip even though you are probably rolling your eyes right now because you’ve heard it way too many times before. Sorry. :)
Sometimes when you feel hungry, you are actually thirsty. Whenever I feel hungry, I take a big drink of water. If I’m still hungry a few minutes later, I eat. If not, I know I was only thirsty.
I’m not a naturally thirsty person, and if I’m not intentional about hydration, I will go all day barely drinking anything. So, whenever I do take a drink of water, I really guzzle it, like a cup or two at a time; I don’t sip it or it will take forever to get through one bottle and I’ll end up dehydrated.
Our bodies need lots of water to survive. I’ve heard the recommendation to drink half of your body weight in ounces, (If you weigh 140 pounds, you’d need to drink 70 ounces a day) and that’s usually my goal.
I have a very large water bottle, and I try to drink 2 of those every day. I don’t always finish it all, but it’s a good visual reminder of how much I’ve had and still have to go.
However, if you eat a diet that is mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, which have a high water content, you don’t require as much water as they recommend.
That’s not for me.
When I open my pantry and see that can of dog food or that package of cat treats, I know that those things are not for me to eat, so they don’t even tempt me to have just a few or to indulge in just one bite.
The same would go for some infant formula or a tub of playdough. They are not for me, so I don’t even indulge the notion of eating them.
That is what I tell myself every time I see a bag of chips or a box of crackers or a candy bar. Those things are not for me. If for one second, I let myself think that I could just try one bite or eat a small portion, the wall around my resolve will have a gaping hole in it, and will be more likely to crumble. I will have to exercise tremendous willpower to resist it.
It’s just a mental thing, but it does help. I wouldn’t think of eating a nice juicy box of crayons because it’s not for me. It’s not what I eat. And neither is that piece of cake.
Eat more vegetables, less meat.
If your goal is to include lots of vegetable and fruits, beans and nuts and seeds in your diet, then you will be doing great things for your body and your health, and a little meat or cheese won’t hurt you. But the fact is, fruits and vegetables are more nutritionally dense than any other kind of food, so the more you eat of those things, the better off you will be.
You can try decreasing the amount of hamburger or chicken you add to your chili, burgers, soups, or casseroles and replacing it with a few extra veggies. You can make one day a week meatless or restrict meat to one meal a day. Just find something that works for you.
If you concentrate on making your food as nutritious and healthy as possible and including as much fresh or frozen produce as you can, you can feel good about the fact that you are preventing diseases and doing great things for the health of your body. You are ensuring that you will maintain a healthy weight and a long life.
It has to be doable for you and for your life, though, so make the effort to find out what that is. It may be making your diet “clean” 80% of the time or 90% –just do what you can. Make the commitment to increase your vegetable consumption. You’ll be so glad you did.
Make your move.
Find a way to move your body that you enjoy and that will be something you’ll want to do on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to be weight lifting, unless you enjoy that kind of thing (which I do) or something super strenuous or time-consuming.
Walk your dog, dance along to some music, go kayaking, take a hike in the park or in the woods or through the snow.
What I like to do is to turn the music on really loud and jump/dance on my mini trampoline for the whole song. Songs usually last at least 3 minutes and are the perfect mini-workout. Since I work from home, I just go in there every hour or so and get bouncy! The time and steps (if you’re tracking them) really add up!
For many years, until recently, I worked at an elementary school, and I would go walk through the halls and go up and down flights of stairs every hour or so.
It doesn’t matter what it is, just do something that you will be able to stick with long-term and that you won’t dread or put off. You will enjoy increased energy and a consistently better mood.
This may be the most important piece of advice I can give you. Diets are short-term. Temporary. They are restrictive and impossible to stick to for very long. They involve hunger and willpower and hard work. There is an end to diets, a goal weight that you strive for every day so you can finally reward yourself with everything you’ve been forced to avoid.
Diets don’t work. If they did, everyone would be at a perfect weight; no one would have any of the health issues that are inevitable when people are overweight. Everyone I know, myself included, has been dieting off and on for their whole adult lives, and still not happy. If diets were successful, we wouldn’t still be stuck in a place of frustration and defeat, ready to try the next new thing.
What do we do then?
What does work, however, is to change your mind; the way you think. You have to commit to better health and not focus on the number on the scale. Throw the scale away or ask someone to hide it if it causes you to get discouraged. Sometimes, I would step on the scale and if the number wasn’t where all of my sweat, hunger, and effort thought it should be, I’d be ready to give it all up. Why bother???
I needed to change my goal from being a number on the scale or even fitting into certain clothes to something more important.
What I do now is to put all of my focus and energy and efforts into being healthy, to feeling good, to having energy, to having great digestion and not feeling terrible after everything I eat. And it works!
After years of making myself work out, now I have noticed how my mood and outlook improve and I just feel good when I move my body! That’s my reason and motivation to do it and I actually want to!
I eat healthfully because it makes me feel so great and I remember how bad I felt eating the way I used to. That’s my reason and motivation for the way I eat, not to lose weight.
Since eliminating the unhealthy foods from my diet, I now feel great after everything I eat! Where before I often felt overly full and bloated and tired after I ate, now I feel completely satisfied and full of energy.
So ditch the diet! Change the way you think. Eat for health and to feel good. Move your body to be happy, to drive away depression, and because it’s fun! I promise you, it works. It really works.
A good resource:
I want to recommend a book that will outline exactly what to eat for a healthy life and the science behind it. It is filled with many stories of people just like us who changed their minds and their eating habits and experienced amazing results. It is called The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. He has quite a few books, the most famous being Eat to Live, and they are all good, but this book is concise and to the point and compares several popular diets with simply eating for health.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful and that you have a great, healthy, and happy week!