I am by no means an expert when it comes to health and fitness, and I am simply learning as I go, but hopefully some of what I have learned can be of use to anyone who wants to learn more about health and fitness, rather than diets.
I have only had a general interest in health and fitness for about three/ four years, but I have committed to a healthier lifestyle over the past six months. The reason for that change came from a serious change in my weight, I had quit smoking at new years and allowed myself to eat just about anything in my path as a result. I was not exercising and managed to gain almost a stone over the space of about eight weeks! If only gaining a stone was easy as losing it! Since February I have been working out three to four times a week and I have made some small tweaks to my lifestyle to help me stay healthy and happy. I am by no means a dieter, and allow myself to indulge without feeling guilty.
I am not quite near my goal weight, although I don’t really focus on my weight and more how my clothes fit me and how I feel physically. I have set myself small goals which are achievable once I commit, but I try not include my weight in those goals. I have also been working on my mental attitude when it comes to working out and eating healthy; in the back of my mind I would always think of an end date, like there would be a day when I was totally happy with how I looked and felt and after that I would be done with exercise. That is never going to happy in a million years, so I have been bringing my mind around to understanding that this is a lifestyle choice, and should be a part of my life permanently.
To start off my health and fitness posts I really just wanted to explain where I am coming from, and give a couple of small changes that can add up to a bigger change over time. Below are 10 small changes anyone can make in their lifestyle, which over time will become healthy habits.
- Start the day with warm water and the juice of half a lemon. Par boil the kettle and add lemon juice as a energizing morning drink. The drink will get your day off to the right start as it aids digestion and weight loss, cleanses, boosts the immune system and can even clear skin problems. It is a really simple way to start your day right, and the zingy lemon juice can get you just as alert as a coffee would. I have also heard of people add a little ginger, which I would like to try myself soon.
- Swap tea or coffee for green tea. I love having a hot drink throughout the day but I take milk and sugar in tea and coffee so it is a lot healthier for me to drink green tea instead. For anyone who has never tried green tea, or does not like the flavour, there is now a large variety of flavours available including cranberry, lemon, salted caramel and more. My personal favourite is the M&S green tea with jasmine. Try switching one tea/ coffee for a green tea and gradually increase over time. Drinking green tea can aid weight loss, regulate blood sugar, prevent tooth decay, reduced the effects of sun damage to the skin and has been linked with a delay in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Add Chia seeds where possible. Chia is a small but powerful seed, packed with nutrients. I find it easy to add Chia to my granola, yogurt and smoothies. In a 28g serving of Chia seeds you will get 11g of fiber, 4g of Protein, Calcium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, potassium and Vitamin B. Chia seeds turn gelatinous when liquid is added, and in the body this gel will absorb any toxins in the body and carry them out of the body, when they would often get reabsorbed in the intestines. Again, a very small change you will barely notice but it is making an impact to your health.
- Enjoy a frozen smoothie rather than desert. I have a sweet tooth and love a little dessert, so I like to make a thick and creamy fruit smoothie which is a healthier than an ice cream alternative. I usually use Spinach (50% of the cup as Spinach does not have a strong taste), Raspberries, Blueberries, natural yogurt, Tropicana and add a scoop of optimum nutrition strawberry whey protein. Usually this breaks down to about 28g protein, 27g of Carbohydrates and only 2g of fat.
- Switch to whole grain. Many people think that carbs are the enemy when they are eating healthy, but that is not true at all. Making a small change such as whole grain bread, brown rice or sweet potato can result in big changes over time.
- Stop buying unhealthy snacks: If I have crisps in the house I will eat them, but if they are out of sight they will be out of mind. Enjoying a chocolate bar every so often is not a problem, but keeping them in the house can result in me eating junk all the time when there are healthier options available.
- DRINK WATER: This is just the most important thing to do, and for many people it has to be a conscious decision. I carry a bobble (reusable water bottle) with me everywhere and try to keep track of how many times I refill it throughout the day. Women should aim for about 2-2.5 litres a day, while men should aim for 3 litres.
- Learn portion sizing. Without realising it, I have been eating much larger portions of foods and I only discovered this after buying a digital weighing scales and downloading the phone app My Fitness Pal. The digital scale was a cheap and cheerful purchase from Aldi (or lidl :/) and the app is free to download on your iPhone. Now that I am more aware I can make a conscious decision to add more greens and highly nutritious foods to my plate, and choose to eat less of the foods that may not be as nutritious. My Fitness Pal also shows me the macro nutrients in my food, as in how much carbohydrates, fats and proteins is actually in what I am eating. This app has helped me realise that not all ‘healthy’ food is what it seems, for example: low fat foods which can be packed with sugar! It is so easy to use as it can scan labels on food and provide full nutritional breakdown.
- Track your steps. My iPhone tracks my steps and distance walked everyday simply while it sits in my pocket, for anyone without this software, look into a pedometer. I aim each day to take 5,000 steps minimum, and on days when I don’t work out I like to try to reach 10,000. I was really surprised with how little steps I take some days, sitting at a desk the day can slip away and walking to the shop or around a park can make a big difference.
- Buy activewear. How can you be expected to become more active if you don’t have the proper equipment. Invest in some trainers and workout clothes and you may find yourself looking for reasons to wear them. Whether it is because you feel guilty about buying clothes you aren’t wearing, or you feel inspired to put them to good use, a new pair of runners can get you up and moving. See my favourite workout pieces here.
So none of these tips are going to change your life dramatically, but it is the first step in the right direction. Many times I have completely abandoned a healthy lifestyle as I have tried too much too soon, such as a strict diet and intense workout out regime. These 10 tips are really about changing your mental attitude towards health and fitness, and to make smarter decisions when it comes food.
As I mentioned above, I am far from an expert when it comes to this area, just someone who is trying to live a healthier and more active lifestyle. If you have any tips I would love to see them in the comments below.
Thank you for checking out my first fitness post!