Healthy lifestyle is a choice and staying fit is one of the many positive outcomes of that choice. There are no other tricks or secrets to becoming slim and fit but to make changes to your lifestyle and eating habits that after due time, provide expected results. Nevertheless, here are a few essential tips that will make your journey to becoming fit easier in the long run.
1) Avoid Falling For Fad Diets
Every now and then, a new fad diet sensation becomes national news, only to be discarded as a waste of time and money a few days later. Of course, few of these fad diets turn out to be actually effective but the majority almost always flatter to deceive.
So, while it might sound enticing to switch to the latest “green veggies only” diet or the “peanut butter” diet or the “no diet at all” diet (dieting, in other words), you might not find them of any value at all in the end. Remember, it always pays off to stick to the old, time-tested dietary plan – eating a balanced diet that contains ample amount of all the essential nutrients coupled with spending ample time working out.
2) Include Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
Fruits and veggies provide all the essential nutrients, fibers and help your body remain well hydrated as well as detoxified. All you need is a couple helpings of fresh fruits and 2-3 fresh vegetables as part of your dinner every day and you can yourself notice a significant change in the overall health of your body.
An important point to note here is that you must switch regularly between the types of fruits and vegetables you are eating. Besides making the diet boring, sticking to the same set of fruits and vegetables means you are keeping your body devoid of some essential nutrients that are only provided by other fruits or vegetables. This might also lead to general nutritional deficiencies, lethargy and lack of mental clarity.
3) Drink Lots and Lots of Water
Drinking more water helps with keeping fit as it ensures all of the organs are working fit and your body stays regularly hydrated. Additionally, drinking water before a meal (a glass would do), helps you feel full faster and avoid the risk of overeating.
In order to make sure you are not drinking too much of water and overloading your poor kidneys, start by adding 1-2 extra glasses of water to your daily habit of drinking water. As you find your body adjusting to the increased amount of water intake, increase the number accordingly till it is at the recommended level (1.5-2 liters or 6-8 cups).
In case you find the good old H2O to be boring to your taste, you can mix it with orange juice to quench your thirst throughout the day. Two portions of water coupled with only one of orange juice is good enough for your liver and kidneys.
4) Control the Size of Portions You Eat
The best way to ensure that you are not exceeding the amount of food your stomach can hold, is to compare it with the size of your cupped hands (both of them). However, if at times you find yourself unable to do so, at least make sure that the time you decide to overindulge yourself is at lunch, when the digestive juices tend to be at their strongest.
Another handy way to measure your food is as follows. Keep the meat portion equal to the size of a deck of cards, the proteins as much as the palm of your hand and the carbs as the size of your fist. There is, by the way, no limit for the amount of green vegetables you can eat!
5) Sleep Better and Longer
A direct correlation has been established between people who are overweight and who lack sufficient hours of sleep. A healthy and good night’s sleep ensures that your body works like a clock through the day and all the metabolic processes are running fine.
Remember 8 hours of sleep is enough for all of us. However, there is a difference between sleeping from say, 12 am to 8 am and sleeping from 10 pm to 6 am. Early to bed and early to rise remains the golden rule of sleeping. It is a healthy practice that is like the natural circadian rhythm of the body. You make it jump off the routine, you run the risk of losing your body’s health.
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6) Eat Fat to Cut Fat
Not all fats are bad for your body. Make sure that you increase the amount of good fats in your diet while at the same time, cut back on all the bad ones. This means no more foods that are cooked in oils such as corn oil, coconut oil etc. Also avoid products that carry the label of Trans-fats or saturated fats. These are the types that get congealed in the blood and accumulate in the arteries, ultimately leading to blocking of them.
Take up the good fats. You can find them in products and fruits such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, peanut butter and safflower oil. Good fats provide body with the energy to burn calories and thus, help it lose unnecessary weight.
7) Stop Eating When You Feel Full
This habit can be credited to the childhood days when our parents would make us clean our plates. However, if you are trying to shed the extra kilos, this rule needs to change.
Once you feel that your body is signaling you to stop eating, you should stop. A good way to make sure you don’t overeat your food is to avoid eating while watching TV or working. Also, avoid eating too quickly as it does not allow the body enough time to send you a signal that your stomach is full and you keep eating way beyond your threshold.
8) Eat From a Smaller Plate or Bowl
Yep, this really helps! This simple method actually helps you to avoid the temptation of overeating. The trick lies entirely in the view. Sitting down to eat with a plate that is full up to the rim with food makes sure you feel full after you are done eating. Whereas eating out of a large bowl with the same amount of food but with more empty space, is mostly bound to leave you feeling cheated or short-changed. Funny but true!
9) Eat Meals at Regular Intervals
Instead of the habitual 3-meals a day, try eating 5-6 smaller meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
This helps your body in two ways. First, it ensures that you are not keeping your body famished for long intervals of time. If you keep starving your body for long hours, your body adjusts and starts storing more of food you eat as fat for future use instead of processing it all to produce energy. Secondly, eating regularly in small portions helps boost your metabolism rate and improves digestion.
10) Work for Your Junk Food
If you have to eat that bag of crisps, ensure that you make your body work for it at least. So, next time you feel the craving, get up and walk to the nearest convenience store to get the bag. For this to work though, you must make sure that you don’t have any lying at home. Avoid keeping any junk food in the house.
This also helps you stay clear of any guilty feeling that you might develop while indulging into your favorite junk food. The more you sweat for getting it, the less harm the bag of chips does in the end.
11) Get a Hobby
Doing activities that interest you helps keep your mind and body healthy. The logic behind this is simple really – the more you do what you like, the more your mind feels good, the more effectively your body works, the healthier it remains!
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There is another scientific reason for doing more of what you like too. When we are feeling good, like when doing things we like, our body produces Serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. The higher the Serotonin levels in the body, the more active and positive our brain stays.
A hobby also works as an effective distraction to eating. Those who might have developed an unhealthy obsession with eating when bored or having nothing to do, can easily overcome their situation with taking up a hobby.
12) Avoid Any Guilt Feeling Associated With the Food You Eat
It is important to not feel guilty if you have let yourself down by indulging in some overeating or junk food occasionally. What is important is to remember that you want to get back on track.
Don’t allow an occasional mistake to drag you down. If you accept your mistake and program your body to do better every time you commit one, you will ultimately end up getting healthier and stop committing these mistakes. However, if you fail to do so, and feel guilty about eating unhealthy, you will end up encouraging the emotional part of your brain to convince you that there is no point in eating healthy for rest of the day or week or month, since you have already broken the chain of eating healthy!
13) Avoid Using Scales
Healthy people don’t spend every day measuring their weight fluctuations and neither should you. Instead focus on how healthy you feel or look. Having a scale around and stepping on it to measure your weight every day can prove to be quite distracting and demotivating, if you don’t find your weight coming down as expected. You need to give it enough time to see how you are doing weight wise.
If you really have to check your weight, use a measuring tape instead of a scale. It is a much better indicator of your body mass and a decreasing clothing size in cms or inches will help you feel much better instead of losing a few grams of weight.
14) Adopt a Holistic Approach Towards Health
Instead of just looking to lose weight, try to ensure that you are working towards making your entire body healthy. As long as all your organs are working perfectly and are in order, your body weight will take care of itself.
Good internal and external hygiene, good mental condition and good diet – all of these need to come together to create a healthy and fit body. So, by treating your body right, you will be able to naturally slim down your weight and feel healthy.
15) Keep Positive Thoughts and People Around You
This is one of the most important aspects of staying fit and healthy. Don’t let others undermine your effort to become fit. When facing criticism or negative feedback about your new lifestyle or eating habits, try to ignore the negative comments and stick to your new rules. Do not try to react to criticism with “healthy lifestyle lectures” either. Chances are they won’t listen to any of it. Those who really want your help will come forward and ask for it straightaway.
All you need to do is stay positive and keep people who support you closer to yourself. Having a good support system in place allows you to work more enthusiastically towards your health and fitness goals, and add a bit of accountability to your plan.
There are hundreds of tips that are all useful and effective to various extents. However, the key is to remember that you must always stay positive in your approach and do only those things that are healthy and beneficial for your body and mind. Once you learn to separate the good from the bad and the healthy from the unhealthy, you will find the pieces of the fitness puzzle falling into place by themselves!