Although I ate a well-balanced diet and stayed active as a child, as I entered my teenage years, I started developing some unhealthy habits. I recently started focusing on my health again, though, especially in regards to food choices and exercise. Simple changes in my diet and daily habits made all the difference in how I feel, and I want you to feel great, too!
Here are 5 tips that helped me get back on track to a healthier lifestyle:
1. Cutting Back On The Junk
Like most people, I love junk food, especially sweet treats. Most health research shows that loading up on the sugar is not the way to go, so I’ve been working on cutting back. I allow myself to indulge in goodies once per month and when I’m out with friends. I also make exceptions for special occasions like birthdays, but otherwise, I try to stay away from junk food these days.
Don’t beat yourself up if you eat a cookie, cupcake, or something salty, though. Living a healthier lifestyle does not mean you need to deprive yourself of sugar completely. However, don’t let one slip-up become an excuse for you to give up your healthy changes altogether. Rectify it with your next meal, not the next day.
2. Replacing Sugary Drinks With Water
At one point, I drank lemonade or iced tea with nearly every meal, but I started slowly replacing those drinks with water. Eventually, my cravings for those sugar-filled beverages decreased, and water became my go-to drink. Not only does cutting out sugary drinks help you reduce your sugar intake, but getting proper hydration also helps cleanse your body while also helping you maintain healthy joints and muscles.
Just like when you develop any other new habits, starting the transition to healthier living is the hardest part. Implement small changes over time, like replacing just one glass of tea with water. Going over the top isn’t going to make you any more committed to your new diet and frankly, you don’t need to show commitment to anyone other than yourself.
3. Portion Control
I used to struggle heavily with portion control. Even when I felt full and satisfied, I would continue to eat until I cleared my plate. I worked to learn the difference between still being hungry and simply wanting more food just because I enjoyed its taste. If you struggle with portion control like I did, I recommend plating your food in smaller portions until you learn how to recognize your bodily signals.
Healthy portion size is a prevalent problem that we need to address as a country. Small changes can lead to bigger ones, and in this case, less is best.
4. Staying Active
As a teen, I did not enjoy physical activity. Let’s be honest: who does? About five years ago, though, I started a fitness journey towards working out every day. I still mix up my workouts and activities to keep them interesting. Variety helps remove the boredom and keeps me busy!
We are lucky that today, there are so many ways to make working out fun! If you feel adventurous, try rock climbing or visiting a trampoline park. If you prefer something more mellow, many places offer yoga or martial arts classes. There are many simple ways to add a bit of physical activity to busy days, too, like walking to lunch or taking the stairs.
5. Body Positivity
I never really loved my body. I hated looking at myself in the mirror because it made me focus on my flaws. As I move through my late 20s, though, I am slowly learning to love my body.
Self-love and acceptance is a process. For me, it started with practicing these other healthy habits so that I would start liking the person I saw in the mirror. For others, it requires changing negative self-talk and reciting positive affirmations. Remember that you must love yourself first and foremost. Also remember that the choices you make each day are for you and no one else.
If you are trying to embark on a healthier lifestyle, know that there are limitless resources out there to help you. If you implement these 5 tips, I know that you’ll start to see the same changes I’ve seen in my own life. Be proud of yourself for making the choice to begin a healthier lifestyle. You can do this!