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How to Build Healthy Eating Habits and Make Them Stick

How to Build Healthy Eating Habits and Make Them Stick


    As a lifelong fitness enthusiast, I know the great importance of proper nutrition. Still being able to maintain a 30 inch waistline in my middle age, I think that I should have enough proven credibility to give you a few tips on how to build healthy eating habits and make them stick.

    Physical activity is only 50% of the overall health equation. The other 50% is nutrition. And without healthy eating habits, one will not be able to achieve good health and fitness.

    So it does depend on what you eat, and in this modern age of convenience and rushed daytime schedules, it’s easy to eat unhealthy. So here are some areas to consider that will help keep you on the right health track.

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    Educate Yourself On Food And Healthy Eating Habits

    In order to eat healthy, you have to understand which foods are actually healthy and which ones are not. Learn from reading nutrition books and websites. Maybe even consult a dietician to get you started.

    Quite often, convenient foods are laced with too much salt, sugar and other ingredients, which are not considered healthy. These ingredients can often be hidden, so it is important as part of your education to learn to read food labels while at the grocer.

    Learn what ingredients to avoid, as major components are usually listed first in the food labels. Also verify and compare fat contents since many food items — which are promoted as ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’ — might very well still be quite high in fat. Being educated on what is contained within various types of food will help you weed out much of the unhealthy food you otherwise might end up eating.

    Learn To Substitute Foods And Ingredients

    In the old days, healthy eating meant a diet of bland-tasting food. I still remember that veggie burger that tasted like cardboard.

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    Those days are thankfully gone as food technology has improved significantly. Many of the lower fat versions of food items (like cheese and frozen yogurt) taste just as good as their standard “full-fat” versions.

    One can also still cook great tasting food at home by simply substituting some of the ingredients. For example, use olive oil instead of butter for frying. Reduce salt by adding spices instead. Choose leaner cuts of meat and trim off visible fat before cooking. Something that I’ve done over the years is to drastically cut down on red meats at home and increase my intake of fish and poultry. By learning some great recipes with fish and poultry, I really don’t miss red meat all that much.

    One of the big areas to substitute is in snacking. Instead of candy bars or potato chips (or other junk food), try nuts or fruit. During the hot summers, I keep a supply of frozen grapes and if I feel the urge to nibble on something, I just grab one or two frozen grapes. Not only are these healthy, they are also refreshing during hot temperatures.

    Keep Related Goals In Mind

    In order to help you stick to healthy eating habits once you plan them, I find that it helps to keep related goals in mind. For example, each time I look in the mirror I make a point of looking at the condition of my abs. I want to maintain a half decent physical shape so what I see in the mirror is a constant reminder that I have to keep eating well.

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    When I see other people around my age group or even younger than me who are out of shape, I always observe that they are not eating healthy. They usually eat foods that are high in fat. Keeping observant with this helps me even more to keep away from bad eating habits since I don’t want to end up like those poor folks who have let themselves go in that department.

    Another goal that is more specific is that I want to be able to perform well on the ski slope during the winter and maintain my martial arts all year round. I can generally tie in my overall performance levels in these sports back to my diet as one of the elements required. See if there are any related activities that you want to do well that you can somehow relate back to nutrition. Then keeping this top of mind will help you steer clear of bad foods.

    After all, you don’t want to blame poor performance in your favorite activities partly on bad diet.

    Be Around Others Who Eat Healthy

    This last point is related to having others help you in your goals. Sometimes it’s hard to eat right when all of your friends, family members and co-workers eat unhealthy. So make sure that you spend time with other people who already eat well. This will help inspire you to eat healthy as well. You’re basically using teamwork to help you achieve the goal of eating healthy.

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    There’s really no magic in how to build healthy eating habits and make them stick. Good health is long term and the only way to achieve it is through all the little successes that add up when you have another healthy meal and finish another workout.

    Follow the above tips — as I do each and every day — during your meals and snack periods to ensure optimum health.

    (Photo credit: Woman Feeding Fresh Vegetables to Kids via Shutterstock)

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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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