Many chronic diseases are caused by lifestyle issues. People tend not to exercise as much as they should. They allow themselves to become overweight. They eat unhealthy foods that lead to things like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and strokes.
The problem with lifestyle issues is that they are difficult to change. Many people try to improve their lifestyles all at once, which is extremely difficult to accomplish. As a result, they often give up all of their healthy habits and resort to the usual negative health habits that they had been doing before they attempted a healthy lifestyle.
Sometimes it takes only a few days or a few weeks of trying to make lots of changes at once before the individual becomes overwhelmed and stops altogether. He or she stops exercising and goes back to eating processed foods and junk foods.
This is why it is better to change your health habits one habit at a time so that you do not become overwhelmed. Just make one small change at a time. Take baby steps, and wait until the one change becomes a habit before incorporating another change.
The best weight loss programs are those that if done carefully do not deprive the individual too much. The same is true of exercise programs. If you choose an exercise that you really enjoy or increase your physical activity more gradually, you can usually stick to the program so that you do not become discouraged and quit exercising altogether.
The trick to healthy living is to begin gradually. Do not try trendy diets or fitness fads. If you try these things with gusto, you are likely to respond negatively and might very well have a hard time sticking with the programs.
There are a few simple things you can do to live a happier and healthier life. Here are some ideas with which you can start:
1. Try eating one healthy meal a day.
Even if you eat processed foods most of the time, if you try to eat just one healthy food each day, you will feed your body with good nutrition and healthy proteins. Healthy meals consist of mainly fruits and vegetables, supplemented with whole grain products, legumes, and healthy fats.
It does not matter how much you eat because, if the food is healthy for you, it generally will not cause weight gain like junk foods or highly processed foods since your body will be getting high quality nutrients. Be mindful, however, that you do not overeat because even too much of a good thing is still too much!
2. Drink a glass of water before each meal.
Water is perhaps the best liquid you can drink. When you decide to drink a glass of water before meals, (an eight ounce glass is enough), you will feel fuller before eating, and you probably will not eat as much at the meal that follows a glass of water.
Add a lemon wedge to your water for a bit of flavor and to help alkalize your body. For the greatest benefit, gently squeeze the lemon over your water before dropping the wedge into it.
3. Be active during lunch.
Even if you are given only half an hour to eat, it usually does not take that long to eat your meals. Try eating your meals; then take some time to exercise. It is probably not a good idea to work out rigorously. A brisk walk is fine. Not only will this energize you but it will also aid in the digestive process.
It really does not matter what type of exercise you do as long as you choose something reasonable that will help you feel better after eating your lunch. Exercising during your lunch break also helps decrease the stress of your job and could make the rest of your day easier.
4. Carry healthy snacks with you.
Fresh fruit and nuts make a great snack. They help stave off hunger pangs that are so typical of the midafternoon time. They give you a good combination of healthy carbohydrates (think fiber), protein, and fat. A snack like this will keep you from going to the vending machines and making poor food choices.
Aim for foods that do not have a complicated peel, are not super sticky, and cannot be squished easily.
If fresh fruits are not feasible, try dried fruits. Just be sure to carefully check the ingredients list and the packaging to make sure there are no added sugars and that the fruit is not sulfured. The best dried fruits have only one ingredient—the fruit itself!
Keep a stash of snacks in your desk at work or in your purse or briefcase so you can grab a quick snack whenever you feel hungry. If you have access to a refrigerator at work, utilize that, and keep a supply of berries in it. Berries are low in sugar and high in antioxidants.
More snack options include vegetables, such as: carrots, celery, cucumbers, snap peas, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes.
5. Exercise regularly.
If you have a gym membership, try going about three to four times per week. Choose an activity you enjoy, and make the most of it. This will help energize you, will build muscle mass (depending on what you choose to do), and could help you lose weight by burning off excess calories.
What easy health habits do you practice? Please share them in the comments below. Are you going to incorporate any of the habits above? Which ones? Please share that in the comments below, too.