While most people want to lose weight, get fitter, get healthier … it can be tough forming the habits.
It can take many starts and frustrations before learning how to live a healthier lifestyle.
How can you change? Here are a few simple strategies making the most of the time you have at home. Also, these aren’t for everyone, so pick and choose the ones that might fit in your life, and give them a try!
1. Toss out the junk food. Having junk food in your house makes it too hard to stick to a healthy diet. If at all possible, toss everything out (or give to a neighbour that has more self control) that’s sugary, fatty, greasy, salty. The best strategy is not having it around. Clean out your pantry and fridge!
2. Find some healthy recipes and buy the ingredients. There are thousands online. Find one or two to start with, easy ones that don’t take an hour to prepare, and go buy the ingredients on your next shopping trip (there’s no hurry).
3. Cook in bulk. It’s easiest to stick to a healthy meal plan if you prepare things in advance. So cook big batches of veggie chilli or soup, or stir fry, and put the bulk of it in containers in the fridge or freezer. Divide things into meal-sized containers so you can just heat things up when it’s mealtime.
4. Stock up on healthy snacks. When you’re hungry for a snack, what will you eat? Have healthy things to munch on at home, and for walks. Fresh fruits, chopped veggies, raw nuts, dried fruits are some of the favourites.
5. Use social media for motivation. You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your favourite online forums for motivation and accountability. Publicly announce a month-long health challenge, and have people keep you accountable. Try Fitocracy — it’s a social fitness game that can make getting fit fun.
8. Play outside. It’s important to go outside every day and get some fresh air and sunshine. Move around, take the kids out and play, take a walk or throw or kick a ball around. Keeping your 2-metre social distance of course!
9. Make water & tea your default drink. Many people drink soda or sugar coffee drinks all day. This is not necessary for a healthy or enjoyable life. Water can become your favourite drink, and (unsweetened) tea can be very healthy.
10. Schedule active breaks. If you’re on the computer all day, schedule short breaks every 30-60 minutes where you stretch, walk around, maybe do some squats or pushups, drink some water. Exercise doesn’t have to be just once a day.
11. Get your spouse on board. It’s hard to make changes if your significant other is resistant. So early on in the process (read: right now), share your thinking, share your reading materials, and ask them to help you get healthy. Don’t ever force them to change, but see if they can be on your team.
12. Start small — don’t overdo it. Big changes tend to be hard to sustain. Make one small change on this list, and then try another, then another. Each step along the way, you’ll get used it and it will become your new normal. No step needs to be very difficult.
13. Have fun exercising. Create challenges for yourself, and your partner in exercise if you have one. Find the sports you like to play. Use running as a form of meditation. Exercising doesn’t need to be boring or hard — it can be one of the best parts of your day.
14. Explore berries, kale, raw almonds and walnuts, avocado, flaxseeds, quinoa, tofu. These are foods that many people don’t eat on a regular basis, and some people have never tried some of these. One by one, explore these foods, they are very healthy. Some of them take some time to acquire the taste, and others (like tofu) just need the right seasonings — they don’t have to be bland!
15. Add healthy ingredients to your meals. If you don’t want to change your entire diet, start adding some healthy stuff to your usual meals. For example, if you normally eat spaghetti, try ground turkey or meatless grounds instead of beef. Add some finely-diced kale and carrots, and some flaxseeds. You can do this to many recipes.
16. Try new ethnic foods. Don’t look at changing your diet as a sacrifice. Think of it as a joyous adventure. Want to try going meatless a few days a week? Try some healthy dishes from India, Japan, Thailand, the Mediterranean. It can be a lot of fun, even for the whole family.
17. Stop smoking. OK, this isn’t the easiest strategy, but it is one of the most important. It will be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life. It takes about a month of focused effort.
18. Diet before exercise. One of the easiest ways to start getting healthier is to start improving your diet — it’s fairly easy to add some fruits and veggies, for example, and maybe cut back on some of the sweets. Starting exercise takes a bit more focus, and doesn’t always get results as quickly. On the flip side, if you start exercising, don’t let that be an excuse to eat whatever you want — it’s easy to negate the benefits of your morning run with a doughnut and sugary and fatty coffee drink.