5 Simple Steps to a Healthier You
It’s New Years, so bring on the resolutions, right? I’m guessing that 85% of people’s resolutions revolve around food and fitness. Fewer desserts, more miles on the treadmill and the like. I’m no nutritionist, nor fitness buff, but from years of working out with learned professionals, and years of training as an athlete, I’m going to opine here on 5 steps to a healthier you this year. Welcome 2013!
1) Water is your number one drink.
Eliminate soda. Limit coffee & tea. Really limit beer (calories!). Eradicate energy drinks (so unbelievably terrible for your system). Pace freshly squeezed juices. Continue with milk (cow, almond, soy, rice, coconut). Pump up your water.
Water comprises 60% of your body. It’s necessary for almost all bodily functions (moving waste, carrying nutrients, providing moisture). You should be drinking a ton of it. Or 8-10 glasses a day. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you really need to be serious about your intake as dehydration can affect your amniotic fluid levels, your baby’s circulation, and the ability for your body to cope with the increase in blood volume. Drink up!
Often when we reach for food, we’re really dehydrated. If you’re nauseated by water, as I am during pregnancy, a little peppermint or lemon can help. Try water over food first. My big sippy cup jug from the hospital still serves as my water source during the day. Having a container you regularly fill up and drink down is very helpful to remember to stay hydrated.
2) Don’t eat after 7pm.
If you live in a hotsy totsy city, you probably eat dinner late. If you’re a middle american like me, you probably have a quasi-early dinner. Your metabolism has way slowed down by this time of night. Try to get your calories in ahead of evening. If you are going to eat late, ensure it’s something that’s healthy. I love a late night snack. It’s ice cream. Gotta kick that habit.
3) Throw away all the dessert and sweets in your house, except one.
Keep one guilty dessert around. Mine? Dark chocolate chips. That’s my one permitted vice. Just that. Now that the holidays are over, just throw away all the dessert. Don’t keep picking at them. Ditch them! But if you deprive yourself completely then you’re apt to binge.
Have easy finger food that’s healthy. Carrots, apples, celery, humus, nut butters, nuts, a whole grain cracker, to name a few. The key for me is that I reach for something easy to eat, and often that’s cookies (or caramels!!). I end up feeling sugar sick then, and totally miserable.
4) Elevate your heart rate three times a week for at least 15 minutes.
Walk, jog up and down your stairs, bench press your baby. I’m resolved to take both kids for a walk. Everyday. Despite the cold. We live in the tundra state so they’d better get their blood thickened sooner rather than later, right? I also have weights and a bench in our bedroom too for the few minutes at night when I can do a quick workout before someone (ahem, SweetPea) awakens.
Sometimes we put off exercise because we’re waiting until we are REALLY going to get into shape. For instance, I keep thinking that I’ll go on this huge exercise kick where I work out like an hour a day. And until I somehow magically get that time to do this, I’ll postpone doing any exercise. Instead, do little tiny bits at a time. And don’t feel guilty when you don’t. It’s the guilt cycle that prevents me from starting sometimes too!
5) Cut screen time; increase reading time.
Want to vegetate at night and still sleep well? Screen time is not the best answer. Yes, it’s nice to unplug from life and just sit in a passive vegetative state watching a show or surfing social media sites or reading the news. But it’s better for you, and provides better sleep, to read something instead, something tangible and paperback. A magazine, a book, a cookbook, a newspaper, whatever.
Over the summer, the American Medical Association issued a policy recognizing “that exposure to excessive light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders, especially in children and adolescents.” The blue light that comes off of our screens suppresses melatonin, the hormone that our body produces to aid with sleep.
We both use our smartphones as our alarm clocks, and I regularly read from it in bed before sleep–especially when I’m having trouble sleeping. Well, one resolution for 2013 is real bedside alarm clocks and no smartphones in our bedroom! Instead I can read from the huge stack of my “must-read-some-day” books that sit dusty on my night stand.