We all want to live a healthier life. We want to eat healthier and exercise regularly. We want to cut out the empty calories and do yoga and meditate seven days a week. We want to get drunk with our girlfriends and binge on a salad with fat-free dressing rather than ask the Uber driver to hit the McDonalds drive-thru at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Wishful thinking. For many of us, our schedules (and motivation) do not allow us to hit the gym with any regularity. And when we get off work late, the last thing we want to do is go home and make dinner. Unfortunately, though, the late-night munchies, the pitchers of beer, and the lack of vegetables and sleep we all suffer from is going to catch up to us. The trick, then, is to start forming habits now that promote a healthier life.
1. Drink a Glass of Water Before Each Meal
This is an easy trick that goes a long way. Because water is an appetite suppressant, drinking a glass before each meal may ensure that you don’t overeat. You’ll feel more full, which will result in eating less. Also, drinking a glass of water before a meal aids in digestion.
So while you’re out to dinner, while you’re waiting for your food to come to the table, chug a glass of water. You’ll be walking out of the restaurant guilt-free and with leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Exercising can be hard. Whether it’s about finding the time, finding the motivation, or finding cute workout clothes, it’s easy to come up with excuses as to why we can’t make it to the gym for our biweekly workout. However, many experts say that walking can be enough exercise. Here’s the trick: for every hour you spend sitting (at work, at home on the couch binging on your favorite TV show), dedicate five minutes for a brisk walk around the office or your home.
If you work a 9-t0-5 job, and if you stay diligent, at the end of your workday, you’ve already walked for 45 minutes, which is 1/3 of the suggested weekly exercise! You go, girl!
3. Get More Sleep
This one’s obvious. A better sleep tonight means a more productive day tomorrow. But easier said than done, am I right? Seven to nine hours of sleep a night is recommended, but how many of us actually reach that goal? Often it feels impossible to train ourselves to go to bed earlier. So rather than telling yourself (and then inevitably failing) to go to bed an hour earlier, try every night to go to sleep five minutes earlier than the night before.
At the end of the week, you’ve changed your bedtime by 35 minutes. That half an hour could be the difference between waking up groggy and in a bad mood and waking up ready to conquer the day.
4. Eat Your Vegetables
Turns out your mom was right. Eating the recommended servings of vegetables a day is important. Vegetables go a long way toward helping you to live a healthier life. They reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. They provide essential vitamins and nutrients.
These healthy little suckers should be our best friends. It’s recommended that we eat 2 to 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a day, so try to eat vegetables with every meal.
5. Trade Soda for Seltzer Water
I’m the first to admit that sometimes a Coke is the perfect partner for a piece of greasy pizza or a cheeseburger. But drinking soda can lead to many health risks: dental decay, obesity, high blood pressure. The list goes on. If you’re a lover of soda, try switching it out for seltzer water (and I’m not talking about drinking a White Claw with every meal).
Seltzer water is bubbly like soda but with the benefits of water (see #1). Squeeze lime into it for a little added flavor or try one of the many brands of flavored water available today. Raspberry rose, anyone?
6. Choose One or the Other…Not Both
It’s inevitable. We’re going to go out with our girlfriends and drink. And drink heavily. And we’re going to end our night in the Jack in the Box drive-thru, or McDonald’s or Taco Bell. We’re gonna wake up in the morning with ketchup on our pillows and guilt in our hearts. (Only me?) Believe it or not, living a healthier life doesn’t mean crossing both alcohol and fast food off the list of things we can indulge in every once in a while.
You don’t want to rob yourself of life’s simple pleasures. So here’s the deal. Next time you go out, choose between the two. Either drink or drive-thru, but don’t do both.
7. Don’t Skip Breakfast
It’s been said that skipping a meal, especially breakfast, leads to both out of control hunger and irresponsible snacking. In fact, people who eat breakfast are more likely to have healthier habits. Eating a breakfast that has protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains means you’ll feel less hungry, more energized, and less likely to recklessly snack throughout the day.
And a piece of avocado toast does just that: an egg for protein, arugula for a vegetable, avocado as your fruit, and the toast for your whole grains. It’s not just a hipster fad, it’s a balanced breakfast.
Attempting to integrate all of these tips into your daily life may seem impractical. If that’s the case, focus on a couple this week and a couple next week. And in no time you’ll be the epitome of healthy living!