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If You Want to Eat Healthier, You Should Follow This 7-Step Plan

If You Want to Eat Healthier, You Should Follow This 7-Step Plan

Mention healthy eating and there are images of green concoctions and complex recipes swirling in your head. It doesn’t have to be so hard and dull. Let’s break down the simplicity of achieving the balanced diet you want and need.

1. Clean out your kitchen cupboards

That stash of candy and bag of chips have to go. Anything with more than three artificial ingredients, heavily processed foods, anything that contains high amounts of sugar or sodium should be thrown out. Say goodbye to microwavable and packaged meals. Once you’re done cleaning your fridge and emptying your cupboard, check your pockets and bags. Perhaps there are snacks and candy, hidden or forgotten, that need be to chucked as well. Out of sight, out of mouth.

Choosing stems from having options so put yourself in the clear to ensure you’re making smarter choices.

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2. Buy a water filter or a portable container

You’re probably sick of hearing this but it’s worth repeating. Your body needs water, your organs, your brain, your mouth, your stomach. Consider it electricity for the body. Every healthy, balanced diet starts with a proper amount of hydration. Aim for at least one liter of water a day, not including water from the foods you eat.

Having a water mug or container keeps you remain mindful of your required daily intake while a water filter saves you money as it limits the usage of plastic water bottles.

3. Learn the basics on Nutrition Facts

Those nutritional tables you see on the sides and back of nearly everything possess a lot of crucial information. It’s important to know the nutritional value of food. This will help you choose foods that effectively nourish your body with crucial, core nutrients. The Nutrition Facts table should inform you of calories, core nutrients (fat, sodium, protein, fibre..) and the daily value (%DV) of nutrients based on the amount of food. Knowing this will enable you to compare products in order to make better choices and will allow you to choose better products more easily, over time.

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Not all foods have nutrition tables (fruits, meats, alcohol, bread); however discerning which items are healthy for you should be fairly easy.

4. Set a food budget

So the kitchen’s de-cluttered from unhealthy options, you’re drinking like a newborn fish to stay hydrated and avoid overeating, and you actually understand what those digits mean on the nutrition label. You’re on a roll and ready to buy super foods, anti-oxidant fruits and enough lemons to start your own grove.

But before you set out to the grocery store, excited to implement all these changes, do your wallet a favor and set a number for food purchases on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. This will prevent you from overspending, which we sometimes do to compensate for other cravings, and avoid you from being overwhelmed with too many options.

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5. Make a grocery list

This is the fun part. Budgets and lists are conjoined at the sexy hip of financial management and awareness. Try to diversify your shopping lists to include at least one item from the food pyramid. Stock up on fruits, vegetables and filling items like sweet potatoes, beans and nuts. If you have a sweet tooth, load up on sweet seasonal fruits like apples, mangos, kiwis and grapes. If chips are your weakness, try pistachios instead.

I asked a few friends for reasons why they resort to fast food and the most prevalent response was convenience. Jot down a few easy-to-make meals or go-to recipes to avoid that pitfall. My lazy dinners often involve a baked sweet potato (loaded with vitamin A), a fried egg (protein) and homemade tomato sauce I make in abundance prior to the week.

6. Get creative

Healthy eating boasts many benefits from noticeable energy increase to better moods and easier weight management. However as the day wears on or as you begin to settle into this new change, you might feel tempted to resort back to comfort foods.

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It’s crucial to find a healthy medium between the foods you love and the foods your body needs. Find healthier substitutes for foods you cannot live without. If you despise drinking water all day, buy de-caffeinated green tea or hoard sliced watermelons, cucumbers and carrots. If ice cream is your guilty treat, reduce the amount of times you indulge and consider replacing your daily scoop with a bowl of unsweetened yogurt with sweet and crunchy granola bits. Next time you need something quick between meals, reach for natural oatmeal and slices of actual fruit (bananas, peaches and berries).

I cannot function without my daily dose of dark chocolate and on days where my sugar cravings are out of control, I reach for mango and peach smoothie popsicles.

7. Be patient

Don’t beat yourself up for the occasional slip. It’s okay to make mistakes as they help you adjust to what fits your lifestyle and discover what doesn’t work for you. Incremental changes in the betterment of your diet can be enjoyable, if you stay patient and curious. Sometimes persistent cravings despite all your efforts are signs of a nutrient deficiency. Do a little research.

Healthy eating is not about depriving yourself of the things you enjoy, it’s about finding the balance between the things you love to eat and the food your body needs to function at its best. Continue on that journey to find that balance for yourself.

Featured photo credit: Bruce Tuten via flickr.com

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Jolie Adam

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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