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Transform Your Life In 2 Weeks: 14 Simple Things To Do That Will Make You Healthier And Happier

Transform Your Life In 2 Weeks: 14 Simple Things To Do That Will Make You Healthier And Happier

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

Would you car for a....

    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

    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

      Close Up Of Woman Eating handful Of Almonds

        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.

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        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

          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

            ditch low 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!”

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              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

              cut down on sugar

                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

                fruit and veges

                  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

                  try some protein

                    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.

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                     “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

                    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

                      sneak in exercise

                        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

                        meal prep

                          “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

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                          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

                          gratitude

                            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

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                            Published on November 14, 2018

                            Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                            Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                            With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                            For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                            In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                            Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                            Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                            It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                            For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                            Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                            Symptoms of Fatigue

                            Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                            • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                            • mental blocks
                            • lack of motivation
                            • headache
                            • dizziness
                            • muscle weakness
                            • slowed reflexes and responses
                            • impaired decision-making and judgement
                            • moodiness, such as irritability
                            • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                            • reduced immune system function
                            • blurry vision
                            • short-term memory problems
                            • poor concentration
                            • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                            Causes of Fatigue

                            The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                            • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                            • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                            • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                            • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                            Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                            Medical Causes of Fatigue

                            If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                            Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                            Anemia

                            Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                            Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                            There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                            Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                            Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                            This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                            Diabetes

                            Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                            Sleep Apnea

                            Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                            Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                            Thyroid disease

                            An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                            Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                            • Lack of sleep
                            • Too much sleep 
                            • Alcohol and drugs 
                            • Sleep disturbances 
                            • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                            • Poor diet 

                            Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                            • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                            • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                            • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                            • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                            Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                            Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                            • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                            • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                            • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                            How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                            Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                            1. Tell The Truth

                            Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                            To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                            Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                            The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                            One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                            • How you feel
                            • What time of day it is
                            • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                            • How your mind and body reacts

                            This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                            2. Reduce Your Commitments

                            When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                            If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                            When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                            Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                            3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                            If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                            Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                            If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                            Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                            Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                            4. Express More Gratitude

                            Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                            It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                            Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                            5. Focus On Yourself

                            Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                            There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                            But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                            We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                            6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                            Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                            Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                            The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                            Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                            7. Take a Power Nap

                            When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                            Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                            This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                            8. Take More Exercise

                            The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                            Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                            The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                            You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                            9. Get More Quality Sleep

                            To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                            Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                            My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                            10. Improve Your Diet

                            Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                            Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                            On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                            To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                            Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                            Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                            11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                            Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                            When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                            Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                            My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                            12. Get Hydrated

                            Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                            Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                            If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                            The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                            The Bottom Line

                            These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                            If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                            Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                            Reference

                            [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                            [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                            [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                            [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                            [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                            [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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