It is 49 days since New Year's Day. Did you make a goal to live your best life in 2019? Or to live your healthiest life? Or to improve your health in some way, either by exercising or eating healthier? You are not alone. Unfortunately, most of us have fallen back into our unhealthy routines. It is not uncommon to go back to well established routines. Changing anything in our lives is hard. We are used to being able to balance work, family and the household in a certain way. It is probably the same routine we've had for years! It is ingrained in us.
Making a change in our lives takes 21 days. Not 7 days or less. We live in a time where we have little patience and want instant gratification. If our goals do not measure up quickly, we think we can't do it or we are a failure. In reality, we need 21 days before a habit becomes routine. It doesn't matter if it is a good habit or bad habit.
Living a healthy life is often a top goal for the new year. Unfortunately, most people equate following a diet as the way to have a healthy life. A diet often means restrictions. Giving up something to achieve a goal. This is not sustainable for a long period of time. Instead, it is a philosophy that focuses on short term achievement. This is why January is a popular time to start a diet. Most of us overindulged during the holiday's and want to reverse the damage we've done.
Changing your thinking about not dieting to live your best life takes time. We may not actually believe that making a small change everyday will help us live our best life. The dieting industry has taught us that unless we deprive ourselves we won't see results. This is simply not true. It does take longer to see results when we focus on a healthy lifestyle. But if we take it slow, our new routine will be something we can maintain for the rest of our life.
Here are 5 tips that will help you live your best life:
#1 Use smaller plates when serving meals. I was shocked to learn that the size of our plates have increased by 33% in the past 20 years. This is important because we tend to want to fill a plate with food so there is not a lot of space. When we fill the plate, we are increasing the amount of calories we consume. If we switch to using a plate that is 9 inches in diameter, similar to a salad plate, we would eat 33% fewer calories. The plate will be filled faster, which means fewer calories. How do you start doing this? Use the smaller plate 3 times a week for two weeks. Then increase it to 4 times a week for two weeks. By alternating the use of the smaller plate, your family will feel the difference when the larger plate is used. Don't be surprised if they start asking for less food when presented with the larger plate.
#2 Buy Organic. Organic food is nutrient dense. This means you will eat less of it because it fills you up faster. Organic options are becoming more mainstream in many aisles of the supermarket. They often go on sale just like conventionally grown foods. A health benefit for eating organic is that you and your family are avoiding chemicals and pesticides. When our body ingests chemicals, it wants to fight against them to keep us healthy. Over time, this constant fighting results in our bodies becoming fatigued. When the body is fatigued, illness and disease sets in. Look for organic options whenever you can. If you can't find organic it is OK. I try to get at least 80% of each meal to contain organic ingredients.
#3 Move your body. Exercise is a must for living your best life. The saying is true: Use it or Lose it. Exercise allows your body to work better and longer. Moving your body makes your heart pumps faster, sending oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body. The heart gets stronger and muscles get firmer as they use oxygen to create energy. (Source: Study.com) This doesn't mean you have to belong to a fancy gym. Walking is the most overlooked form of exercise. When you first start, try to walk at least 30 minutes a day. As you get stronger, you can increase the time, increase your speed or start to hold light hand-weights. If the weather is not cooperating, there are free exercise classes on YouTube that you can try. So many in fact, one day a week you should try a new one. When you make moving your body a fun activity, you are more likely to stick to it.
#4 Cook more often. Eating out often is a recipe for bad health. Restaurant meals are high in sodium, fat and sugars. While cooking more often sounds time consuming, it doesn't have to be. I have a very long commute to the office, which means very little time to cook throughout the week. I meal-prep or precook meals on the weekends so that healthy meals during the week are easy to make. Casseroles, pasta dishes and slow cookers are my go-to's for precooked meals. I often cut up veggies and combine them into one container, store them in the fridge, to make a stir-fry dinner in 30 minutes. If this still sounds like too much work, there are meal delivery services that supply all the healthy ingredients you need along with instructions. Sunbasket delivers organic ingredients helping to save you time on shopping and meal planning.
#5 Practice Being Happy. A positive mental attitude is one of the pillars of living your best life. I am at my happiest when I feel great as a result of sleeping well, exercising, meditating, learning something new and eating organic food. I feel I can take care of others better because I have taken care of myself. Finding what makes you happy may take time. Especially if you've never considered happiness as a way to live your best life.
To find your happiness, try meditation. If you are unsure where to begin, there are plenty of free sites available. The Chopra Center has resources for learning how to meditate as well as free meditations to listen to. Meditation doesn't have to be a long time investment. Try 5 minutes and then increase it to 10 minutes. Another way to find what makes you happy is to journal your thoughts. Don't put any pressure on yourself about what you write. Just write. It can be a sentence. It can be a paragraph. But finding a way to express yourself that is just about you will help you find your happiness.
I hope this post about how to live your best life was eye-opening. As you can see, following a diet is not a way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. If you try any of the above, let me know what you think!
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