January was all about new year resolutions but how many have actually been able to stick to their resolutions? Most people believe that once the new year kicks in they have to become super healthy and fit. The first week they will throw away all the foods in their kitchen cupboards, go on a 7 day juice fast and kill themselves at the gym. No wonder this leads to numerous individuals going back to old habits after just one week! It is not about being perfect it is about making small realistic changes that will lead to a better, healthier lifestyle.
Ask yourselves the following questions:
Why do I want to become healthier?
Can I cope with change?
Do I have an addictive personality?
Do I want to change for me or for others?
You have to be really honest with yourself and keep your plan simple and realistic. If you have an addictive personality you will always be drawn to the things that are bad for you, thus making it more challenging. As mentioned before it is not about being perfect. Even if all you do is one small change towards becoming healthier that is ok. It is best to start slowly so you stay committed for longer. A drastic change can lead to binging on the wrong foods which is not what we want. It is important that any change happens because you want it and not because society or someone else wants it! For some people being healthy is easy but for others it can be a life long struggle. Why is it important to become healthier? Because you want to remain active and disease free for the rest of your life! This does not mean that you should never ever have a treat. I eat everything in moderation but 80% of the time I am super healthy and I work out 6 days a week. This way if I do have a treat from time to time I do not feel guilty at all.
Be realistic and make small changes at a time
Don’t feel that you suddenly have to throw all your coffee, pasta, sweets and every food in the kitchen away and just live on green juice. This will only lead to you craving certain foods even more. You have to sit down and seriously analise your diet and lifestyle. Ask the following questions:
How much alcohol am I consuming per day, per week?
How many coffees do I drink during the day?
Am I addicted to sugary foods?
How many cigarettes do I smoke?
Am I exercising enough?
Am I drinking enough water?
What foods do I crave the most?
Only you can answer these questions honestly. If a person’s diet is extremely unhealthy I do not advise any drastic action where an individual suddenly goes on a cleansing detox diet. You need to prepare the body otherwise it will be a shock to the system resulting in being ill and having cravings which will lead to binge eating. I suggest you cut down on the alcohol and coffee slowly. Do not eliminate it completely. If you are drinking 4 cups a day cut it down to 3 a day and eventually 1 a day. If this is the only change you make in a week that is ok. Eventually you can experiment with coffee substitutes like dandelion coffee. When you are ready do the same with alcohol. Alcohol has a devastating effect on the liver. A healthier liver will give you more energy and regulate your metabolism. Do the same with smoking until you eventually quit. Make sure you are well hydrated and start drinking more water. Stay away from all fizzy sugary drinks. Include more herbal teas in your diet. Start with little changes at a time. Don’t feel you have to give up your favourite foods for life. You don’t. Moderation is key. Exercise is also important for circulation and your lymphatic system. If you are new to exercise you can have a read of my previous post: A beginner’s guide to exercise. Again start slowly. Start with a brisk 30 minute walk. It is better to do something healthy everyday no matter how little rather than try to make unrealistic changes where you end up throwing in the towel after a week.
Make breakfast the most important meal of the day
A coffee with a danish pastry or a croissant is not a healthy breakfast. It will taste good but do no wonders for your health. You want to remain alert, active and sharp during your day, especially if you are going to work. Sugary foods will give you a momentary burst of energy and then suddenly make you feel sleepy and tired. It is ok to have a sweet treat once in a while but try foods like porridge, eggs or a smoothie in the mornings. Smoothies are very quick to prepare and you can even take them to work with you. I have heard so many people say that they do not have time to prepare breakfast in the morning because they are in a hurry. Trust me when I say that investing a little time in your health will benefit you enormously in the long run. Our health is the most valuable thing we have in life.
Include more fresh whole foods into your diet
Try to cook everything fresh from scratch. If you fancy a burger or chips make them yourself. They will be much healthier than the ones you buy from the supermarkets. By cooking meals yourself you will see exactly what goes into your food, how much salt you use. Include garlic, ginger and turmeric in your cooking. Try to increase your vegetable intake. If this is the only change you make it is still good. Ideally, half of your plate should be vegetables or salad. Always make sure you wash your fruit and vegetables thoroughly especially if not organic. Non organic produce has more pesticides. Wash with apple cider vinegar or bicarbonate of soda. This is very important to avoid toxins. Include more raw foods in your diet. This is easier to do in the summer as the weather is warmer. It is normal to crave warming foods in the winter but maybe a smoothie a day can help you have more raw foods.
Stay away from all processed ready made meals
Ready made meals in the supermarkets may be cheap but they are full of rubbish. They are full of salt, sugar, colourings and flavourings. I would definitely cut back and eventually eliminate them. As mentioned above cook everything fresh yourself.
Have protein with every meal
Protein with every meal is important as it balances blood sugar levels. Remember that the protein should be the size of your palm and no bigger. It is important not to have too much animal protein. Try to mix it up with plant based protein. You can have eggs for breakfast, quinoa for lunch and some chickpeas for dinner. If you do go for animal protein make sure it is of good quality. If you decide to have meat please go organic. This is very important as non organic meat is injected with hormones and antibiotics.
I hope the above advice helps you towards your journey of health and fitness. If you would like more advice or a bespoke nutritional plan please email me.