Before I started this blog I was in a pretty bad place health wise, both physically and mentally. I was overweight, I still am, but not on the same scale as I was, I hated my job- I came home crying after every shift and I really didn't know who I was anymore. As cliche as that sounds, I just didn't know what I wanted out of life. I knew I wasn't content to stay in the position I was in. I was sick of feeling depressed, exhausted, overweight and like my life was never going to change when it really needed to.
I went into more detail about how I changed my life by quitting my job and stepping out of my comfort zone for a life of travel and happiness in the first post I did for this blog. To me however, the most important change I made was to my eating and exercise habits. Once I did this, everything else fell into place.
It can be so intimidating if you're taking that first step into leading a healthier lifestyle. A lot of people think it's all or nothing. They have to change everything about their lifestyle overnight, but it isn't that simple. I tried this, the changes were way too overwhelming and drastic and I just fell back into old habits. The trick for me was baby steps. Changing smaller things gradually over time led to me losing a stone and I felt amazing.
I thought I'd share some of the small changes I made to my lifestyle to make it easier for any of you who may be struggling a bit with getting healthier or for anyone who is thinking of changing their eating and exercise habits. So here are 7 simple ways to ease into a healthier lifestyle.
Quite often it is the amount of food we eat in one sitting that causes us to feel bloated, unwell and put on weight. Many of us are brought up not to waste food, so even if we aren't necessarily hungry anymore we carry on eating until our plate is clear. This is something I was guilty of so I simply changed the size of my plate. Having your meal on a side plate instead of a big dinner plate is a great way to control portions. You'll also find that you still feel full, even without all the extra food you felt you had to eat before.
I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing this, but drinking water is the best thing you can do for your health. I have failed miserably at drinking water in the past. I never seem to get thirsty. Drinking around 8 glasses of water a day cleanses your body of toxins, leaving you feeling less bloated and giving you healthier, clearer skin. People often mistake hunger for thirst, so drinking enough water also stops the urge to overeat.
When I started my journey to a healthy lifestyle I lost a stone just by eating healthily and doing a 30-45 minute Youtube workout video 5 days a week. There were no secrets, wraps or diet pills, it was simply a balanced diet and 30-45 minutes of exercise a day. Of course if you're confident enough you can go to the gym for a workout, but I'm not the most confident person so prefer to workout without the presence of others. My nomad lifestyle also means that I have to work out at home.
There are so many great, completely free workout videos on Youtube (perhaps I should do another post on my favourite ones). There is something for everyone. Whether you like dancing for exercise, pilates, yoga, boxing or even power walking, you will find something you enjoy doing and in the comfort of your own home!
It's no secret that refined grains like white rice, white bread and pasta are not our best friend. You have to eat a lot of them to feel full because our bodies get very little nutrition from them and they leave you feeling uncomfortably bloated and tired. A lot of people think they drastically need to exclude all grains from their diet, but this isn't necessary. As I've said, making drastic changes can be a bit overwhelming, so instead just make a small swap from white carbs to whole grains.
Whole grains are a great source of fibre so they're amazing for your digestion and don't leave you feeling bloated like their evil counterparts. You'll also find that you eat a lot less of them because the nutritional value in them lets your body know you've had enough. When you've consumed enough nutrients from your food, a message is sent to your brain to tell you you're not hungry anymore. This is why it takes a lot of refined carbs for you to feel full.
It can't be all work and no play. When I had a successful week of healthy eating and exercise I treated myself to a small bar of chocolate on Saturdays. Completely denying myself the treat of chocolate would never work for me. Moderation is key. If you've had a fantastic week of eating healthy food and exercising, a little bit of chocolate (or whatever your preferred treat is) won't ruin it. Rewarding yourself is so important for acknowledging that you're meeting your goals and this is a great motivator to reach more goals!
The best way to tell if you're having a balanced meal is to see whether or not it is colourful. If your plate is completely beige, chances are it isn't (maybe with the exception of cauliflower?). A balanced meal should consist of protein, fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Half of your plate should be fruit and vegetables, so if your plate isn't about the unicorn life make this a new habit. If you have spaghetti bolognese, half fill the plate with a nice leafy salad or if you're having an omelette, instead of having fries with it have some grilled tomatoes.
If you're anything like me, after a meal you crave something sweet. Unless it was my treat day I battled these cravings by having a piece of fruit after my dinner. This honestly worked for me, and it wasn't hard or overwhelming because I love fruit anyway! My go-to is a nice juicy orange or grapes. If you want to make it seem more like a treat, freeze your grapes. Frozen grapes make a great substitute for naughty sweet treats.
Contrary to what the media will have you think, adopting a healthier lifestyle doesn't need to be all blood, sweat and tears. You don't have to run head first into it and change every aspect of your life. In all honesty baby steps are the best way to introduce a healthier lifestyle. If you make drastic changes it can become really stressful and depressing when really we should feel great about making a positive change in ourselves. Set small goals, achieve small changes and adopting a healthier lifestyle will seem so much easier.
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