Have you noticed that your quick fixes or diets don’t last very long and you end up going back to your old ways? That’s because we are creatures of habit and in order to see long lasting positive changes in our lives we need to work on improving our habits one at a time. Achieving a healthier and happier life doesn’t have to be hard, overwhelming or something you do all at once. Just take it one day and one habit at a time.
Here is my two week campaign to help you transform your life. Some of the tasks you may find easy, others you may find challenging and that’s ok. The next two weeks are about you. Start with day one and stay on day one as long as you need to; as long as it takes for you to make it something that you do habitually. I’d love to hear how you go with this and what positive changes it makes in your life.
Day 1: Drink more water
Our bodies need water to function properly and because we can’t store water we need to drink it every day. Water is needed for most of our body functions and the general consensus is that the average adult should be drinking at least two liter of water each day (eight glasses each of 8 oz (= 240 ml) every 24 hours). However, there is not one size fits all when it comes to the amount needed. Aim for two liters a day and if you still feel thirsty drink more, if you don’t drink a little less. You just have to listen to your body and drink accordingly.
Day 2: Rethink your drink
This one should be a little easier now that you have increased your water intake. The next time you pick up a drink I want you to ask yourself – is this good for me? Sugary beverages are high in kilojoules with no other essential nutrients and regular consumption may lead to weight gain, obesity, reduced bone strength and tooth decay. Try drinking water or green tea instead. Green tea can potentially protect you against heart disease while coffee (no more than four per day) may help protect against type 2 diabetes.
Day 3: Eat mindfully
It’s time to stop eating on the run, in the car, while watching television and with little attention to what you are actually putting in your mouth. From now on, I want you to be mindful of what you are eating. Ask yourself – will this food give my body the nourishment and nutrients it needs? Also, start practicing the following: eat only when you are hungry, stop eating when you are full and slow it down. Digestion begins in your mouth, so the more chewing you do (approx. 20 times before swallowing) the happier and more grateful your tummy and intestines will be later.
Day 4: Get the right amount of sleep
“From serotonin production to blood sugar management, immunity, and heart health, sleep impacts every aspect of your health.” Dr. Frank Lipman
We all know how important it is to get enough sleep and just how cruddy we feel when we don’t. Research suggests that the ideal amount of sleep may be seven hours a night although some people may need more. Again, it’s about listening to your body and making note of the amount of sleep that makes you feel at your best. Then when you figure out the ideal amount, stick to it and resist the temptation to oversleep.
Day 5: Stop buying junk food
It’s pretty hard to resist the temptation of your favorite junk food when it’s staring you right in the face. “One little bite can’t hurt.” Next thing you know, you’ve downed a whole packet of chips, block of chocolate or half a tub of ice-cream. I get it; it’s delicious! But doing this regularly is not helping that healthy diet of yours. So avoid the temptation and just stop buying it. Get rid of everything that is sugary, fatty, greasy and salty. Clean out your pantry and fridge and avoid even going down those aisles at the grocery store.
Day 6: Ditch the low-fat, no fat products
Shira Lenchewski, RD, summed this one up much better than I can:
“One of the most pervasive food myths is the idea that consuming dietary fat makes you fat. But truthfully, consuming any macronutrient (meaning carbohydrate, protein or fat) in excess will result in weight gain. The fact is, fat adds flavor, and when it’s removed, sweeteners and artificial flavors are typically added in its place. And trust me: that is not a good thing!”
I would pick fat over sweeteners and artificial flavors any day.
Day 7: Practice some self-love
You made it to day seven! That calls for some serious appreciation and self-love. Changing our bad habits is a tough gig and if you have been sticking to the above I’m guessing you’ve been working pretty hard. So today is about taking some time out for yourself. Do something that makes you happy and / or practice some of these self-love techniques. Be proud of yourself and what you have achieved so far! You’re halfway there :)
Day 8: Cut down your sugar intake
We’ve already worked on cutting down the sugary beverages but now it’s time to cut back in other areas. I know this can be a big challenge for some but I’m not asking you to go Sarah Wilson on me, I’m just suggesting you cut back on the amount of sugar you are consuming each day little by little. There are a ton of studies, research and opinions out there about why too much sugar is bad for your health (you can check a few out here and here). In my opinion too much of anything is bad for your health. It’s all about moderation.
Day 9: Add more fruit and veggies to your diet
You know that eating more fruit and vegetables will improve your health. So what’s stopping you? Today I want you to make a list of the different fruit and vegetables you like eating and how you plan to add more of them into your diet. Some tips: keep ready to eat fruit where you can see it, work out ways to make fruit and vegetables a part of every meal or snack, buy in season products, purchase a little bit at a time so it doesn’t go to waste and most importantly, enjoy the benefits you will see and feel when you start incorporating more of these foods into your diet.
Day 10: Try some protein in the morning
Contrary to popular belief, current research has shown that weightloss may not necessarily occur by eating breakfast which has sometimes been thought of as “The most important meal of the day.” I find that eating a healthy protein breakfast helps to control my appetite and gives me a clear mind.
“High-protein breakfasts reduce the amount of ghrelin — a hormone that stimulates a feeling of hunger — in the bloodstream more effectively than do high-carb breakfasts.” Institute of Food Technologists
I encourage to just give it a go. Try eating protein (eggs, greek yoghurt and fruit, oats, meat) and see how you feel afterwards. Then the next day compare this feeling to your usual breakfast routine. I think you will be surprised to see the difference. Just make sure when you make over your breakfast routine, you avoid high sugar and processed cereals, they really aren’t doing your body any favors.
Day 11: Change your toothbrush head
The American Dental Association recommends replacing the head of your electric toothbrush or your regular toothbrush every three to four months. Your toothbrush is home to microorganisms from your mouth and also the environment where it’s stored. Changing your toothbrush regularly will decrease the number of bacteria you are exposed to and ensure your teeth are always cleaned well.
Day 12: Sneak exercise into your day
It’s time to get that gorgeous body of yours moving; no excuses. You know what you need to do, you just have to make the commitment and do it. Here are a few ideas on how you can sneak exercise into your day:
- Always take the stairs.
- Do 20 squats when you’re done in the bathroom.
- Use your lunchbreak to go for a walk outside.
- Park your car a little further away from work and enjoy the walk.
- Before sitting on the couch at night do 25 jumping jacks, 25 pushups, 25 crunches and 25 squats.
- Dance while your cooking, cleaning, working, whatever. Yes you may look a little weird but who cares, get a bit silly and have fun.
- Google the ridiculous amount of at home work outs that are free on Youtube
Day 13: Meal prep
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Meal prep is one of the best ways I know to keep your healthy diet on track. When we have delicious healthy snacks and meals in the fridge or freezer ready to go, we are more likely to choose them rather than an easy option like takeaway. My suggestion is to pick afternoon or a day each week that you dedicate to your meal prepping. Get your recipes together, get the ingredients together and have a massive cook off. You could prepare some salads, some vegetables that are ready to be cooked when you need them, fruit salad, boiled eggs, healthy treats, meals that you can eat this week or store in the freezer for when you need them. Make it a habit to prep and I’m sure you will see the difference in your eating habits.
Day 14: Find one thing to be grateful for every single day
Happy people are not happy because everything is ALWAYS blissful and amazing in their life. Happy people choose to be happy, they choose to look for the good in any situation, they choose to support themselves and they choose to make their happiness a priority in their lives. So from now on, every single day I want you to find at least one thing you are grateful for.
“We only live once. We all have an expiration date after that we will never come again. I am not saying that to make you sad. I am saying that so you can cherish each moment in your life and be grateful that you are here and you are Special.” ― Pablo
Fourteen day challenge complete! Your next steps are to do a very big happy dance, practice some serious self-love and then work out what area of your life needs a little makeover next. Keep going, you can do it and you deserve it!
Featured photo credit: bean bowl with poached egg-3/jules via flickr.com