So. Much. Stuff.
Living in this day and age, we are almost spoiled by the availability of information available to us. At any given time we can know about wars on the other side of the planet, who’s wearing what one the Red Carpet, and what the operational hours are at a local SPCA.
The entirety of human discovery is literally at our fingertips, and all within minutes! The problem is, no one has enough time to sift through the immense amount of data available, especially when you’re looking for details on a particular subject.
Searching for reasonable suggestions for healthy lifestyle changes can be every bit as challenging. Five minutes of casual looking can turn up hundreds of celebrity diets, how vegetarianism is good/bad, where to order the ‘best’ protein shakes, and innumerable ‘miracle weight loss pills’.
Miracles Found Here!
First of all: there is no such thing as a miracle pill for weight loss. The only thing thing they make you lose miraculously is your hard earned money. The true miracle is deciding on a positive change and sticking with it.
The human brain is an immensely complex system and convincing it to change is one of the single most challenging activities ever undertaken.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. That doesn’t mean that healthy changes cannot be maintained (or even enjoyed) in the long run. The secret is to incorporate small, reasonable changes into your lifestyle- ones that gradually accumulate into impressive long term benefits.
In this light, I give you the Top 5 Tiny Changes For Massive Results! No one is perfect, so if you mess up one day, no problem. Tomorrow’s a new day. Carpe diem!
1. Stop Starving Yourself
Hey, this should be a no-brainer by now. Not only is being constantly hungry unpleasant (both for you and the people around you), not eating enough has dire consequences.
Low energy, dull skin, hair loss- these symptoms are just the easy to see external ones. Inside, much more troubling ones are developing. Recent revelations on the immensely popular TV show ‘The Biggest Loser’ only prove this point, in horrifyingly sensational and public detail. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/27/biggest-loser_n_4868870.html
In fact, if you want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and a healthy body, it’s recommended you eat every two to three hours. That might sound like Hobbit logic to you (breakfast? Second breakfast? Elevensies? Luncheon?) but in fact, eating many small meals perpetually keeps your blood sugar levels stable.
And your mood, too! You can’t eat immense amounts of any old junk- but nicely balanced carb/fat/protein combos work really well. Think almond butter and apple slices, or cheese and crackers.
And yes, the occasional sweet treat is fine- as long as it’s just occasional, and in a reasonable serving size. You’re committing to a lifetime of health, not a convent.
2. Be Mindful of What You Eat
Take your time, select your food carefully, and take pleasure in the components of your meal. Whether you prepare it yourself or order it in a restaurant, slow down and appreciate what you are about to consume.
This is something that you want to become part of you- and that is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Along those some lines, eating your meal should include mindfulness if not reverence (ever think about the fact that all your food is made of sunlight, either directly or indirectly? Look at me, eating sunlight. Wow!).
Chew slowly. Savor. Speak and share your experience with other people enjoying your meal with you- and everyone put your bloody phones down.
By paying attention to what you eat, it becomes incredibly satisfying and rich with sensations that have nothing to do with shoving food into your mouth as fast as you can.
You’ll digest everything better, enjoy it more, and potentially eat less. When we are distracted, we tend to mindlessly eat until our plates are empty- which may happen well after a comfortable ‘full’ point.
3. You Are What You…Drink?
Soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks are marketed to quench our thirst, but are laden with unnecessary sugar and chemicals. They may taste yummy but they are definitely not what your body needs for hydration- some of them are actually dehydrating, making you want to drink more of them!
Speaking of sweetened, dehydrating drinks…flavored coffee concoctions are every bit as bad for you as soda, and often can contain more sugar. Sure, a daily cup of coffee is fine- but if you start loading it up with syrups, whole milk, and whipped cream you might as well have sat down to a second helping of dessert.
Small steps here, remember? Just try to drink more water- one cup at a time if you have to. Despite being very active, I personally am terrible at drinking plain water- which is why I keep sliced fresh limes around.
It’s an instant perk of yummy flavor and eye-catching color- and one that makes drinking my eight glasses a day much more bearable. Enjoyable, even.
Experiment with lemons, cucumber slices, or crushed mint. Healthy hydration never looked so pretty! Just try one more cup a day- slowly adding healthy aspects, remember?- and you’ll find yourself guzzling water at a rate that will surprise you.
4. Flossed and Found
This one might look strange amongst all the food- based ideas, but it’s a really, really important one. Regular flossing help keep your teeth and gums healthy- which in turn affects how you chew your food.
Poorly chewed food does not digest properly, leading to nutritional deficiencies and digestive upsets. What you don’t know is that flossing is the fastest way to remove dangerous bacteria from your body.
Dental plaque is responsible for tooth decay and bad breath. It’s also a dangerous contributor to high blood pressure and diabetes. It’s a fact that cardiologists will not perform non-emergency surgery on someone until their dental caries are dealt with; plaque is that bad for your health.
Ideally, you should floss at least once a day. If you’re waaay less frequent than that, start by attaching a flossing habit to another regular habit- like watching your favorite TV show, or when you’re stuck in traffic.
Classic loose floss works (the mint flavored stuff is refreshing!), but there are useful little floss picks and even tiny spiky brush-like devices to help scour out the hard to reach places.
Start small. Find a way that works, and stick with it. Your dentist may stop crying himself to sleep every night thinking about the state of your teeth.
5. I Like To Move It, Move It!
Well, in reality, I don’t. I might be one of the healthiest lazy people ever to walk the Earth. Exercise is hard. And sweaty. And it smells weird, and there’s always someone out there who looks like an Olympian and makes it all look effortless.
Surprise, surprise. It’s not effortless. Even people who ‘love’ exercising have trouble. People who are really physically fit just have a well-established set of habits- ones that started small (ahem, notice a theme here?) and consolidated into something amazing.
So for the love of heaven, don’t jump straight into a 5K run if you’ve never jogged- start small, start reasonably, and start something that you can enjoy.
Involve friends, your dog, whatever works for you. Can you work in 30 minutes of exercise a day? Try it in little ten minute walks during your lunch break. Did you know that 2000 steps is approximately a mile? That walking up and down stairs with laundry, or around a grocery store counts?
Invest in a pedometer or a Fitbit and get involved in a community of other beginners- you share the support and the challenges together, so everyone wins!
Weight training should be part of your week too- it helps with bone density, muscle strength and balance, and the overall appearance of your body. Strong, sleek muscles look awesome on everyone.
You don’t have to be a bulging Arnie to reap the benefits here. As a goal, you should try for 30 minutes of weight bearing activity, twice a week. You can do that lifting moderately heavy soup cans during commercial breaks during shows, or playing airplane with your kids. It’ll build if you stick with it- and if you stick with it, it’ll feel amazing.
Small Is The New Big So don’t go heroic on us. Don’t dive into the mysterious kale-and-kumquat cleanse. Don’t attempt so many new changes that you can’t figure out how to function, and just fall back on familiar routine.
Small steps add up over time, so be patient. It’s like the old joke: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: one bite at a time. Taken one bite at a time, this is a battle you can win, and the rewards are beyond measure. Yes, you can do this.