It can be hard to stick to a diet or keep healthy choices part of our lives for long periods of time. Whether you are trying to be more active or just trying to get some fruits and veggies into your diet, we have a few tips to help you commit to your healthy habits.
Start in Small Increments
Marathon champions will all tell you that they didn't compete in a 26-mile race on the very same day they decided to join the sport of running — it took many seemingly small steps (sometimes literally!) to get them across that finish line. No matter what your health goals, it's important that you also take small steps; trying to do too much all at once will end up discouraging you.
For example, working out for an hour every single day your first week of hitting the gym may lead to burnout just as you're getting started on your journey to better health. Instead, consider getting started by going to the gym three days your first week, or by going for longer walks with your dog in the evenings. If you are looking to add more vegetables to your diet, try eating them twice a week to start, and slowly ramp up to every other day. Soon, making healthier food choices will be second nature to you.
Setting realistic goals for yourself, starting small, and doing everything in moderation will help keep you on a stable path, and figuring out what works for you is the first step to healthier habits. Once you do that, you can move on to more moderate and continuous amounts of working out and healthier eating.
Drink Plenty of Water
It's no secret that drinking water is critical to our health — it keeps our organs strong and promotes healthy bodily functions. It can even help us maintain a healthy body weight, which is a key component in overall wellness.
The trick is to make drinking water a steady part of your routine every single day, and not just when you're thirsty. If you're hoping to add more H2O to your daily life, Women's Health recommends these sneaky tips:
- If you find that drinking enough water is difficult because it's too bland, flavor it with your favorite natural fruit juice for a touch of sweetness
- Keep a bottle on you at all times — if you've constantly got a bottle of water on your work desk, in your purse, and next to your bed, it's hard to justify not drinking enough
- Add water-packed foods like celery, tomatoes, watermelon and cucumbers to each meal — they'll help keep you hydrated and encourage healthy eating
Tell Yourself Yes
Never tell yourself that you can't do something when you are trying to better yourself. Telling yourself "no" or "I can't" can make it feel like you're depriving yourself of something you really want, when what you're actually doing is letting go of habits you don't need.
Instead, try changing the way you decline the "opportunity" to make a less-than-healthy choice. For instance, if your co-worker offers you a slice of chocolate cake at your company's potluck lunch, try not to say, "I can't." Instead, use positive language, such as, "It looks delicious, but I'm really looking forward to my evening treat after the gym tonight, so I'm going to snack on veggies until then." Both have the same message, but the second statement makes your brain feel like you're being rewarded rather than punished.
Eat at Home
If the healthy habit you're trying to maintain is food-related, cooking at home as often as possible can be extremely beneficial to you. Cooking at home allows you to have total say over exactly what you're eating. Restaurants often have "healthy" menu options, but they can still be packed with oil, butter, salt or even sugar, which can lead you to overindulge even when you're trying to make healthy choices.
Health isn't just about what you eat — it's also about how much you're eating, and a home-cooked meal lets you control your portion sizes. Restaurant-sized portions often far exceed what you actually need to be nourished and feel satisfied. By serving yourself a full portion of your favorite healthy dish at home, you won't feel like you're being deprived, and it will be much easier to make healthy-sized meals a part of your everyday routine.
As you can see, there are several things you can do in your everyday life to maintain healthy habits every single day. Commit and have fun. Good luck!