March is National Nutrition Month. I visited the website and their theme for this year is “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Just like fitness, nutrition can be a little daunting if you are just getting started. So where do we even start? Well, here are 8 ways to help you take a bite into a healthier lifestyle:
1. Set a goal.
What are your health goals? Take some time to decide what you want- it could be abs, getting stronger, losing weight, or being heart healthy. Deciding what the end goal is, both short term and long term, will help stay you on track for success.
2. Start small.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Robert Collier
Celebrate the small victories every day and take each day as it comes. Focus on eating right and working out today. Stay present and keep your goals in mind.
Fitness isn’t about living solely off of bland broccoli and dry chicken breast. Find substitutions for your foods that you enjoy. Simple switches can make the biggest difference. For example, I love pizza. However, I cannot eat it every day. (Well, maybe I could, but my heart and body wouldn’t appreciate it). So I love making cauliflower pizza crusts then adding my favorite toppings. Some of these substitutions are amazing, but some are hit and miss. Mix it up! Try different things to see what works for you. If you do happen to stumble across a yummy, healthier version of something, please send me the recipe!
4. Treat meals.
While substitutions are great options for our guilty pleasures, I do understand that some things in the world need not be messed with. Grandma’s homemade pie, your aunt’s mac’n’cheese, or a delicious dessert from your favorite restaurant are perfect examples. You can have this! I recommend indulging in your favorite, hearty foods or meals once a week. A completely restrictive diet is unhealthy and can lead to binging.
5. Portion control.
Almost anything in excess is bad for you. Especially food. We consume a staggering amount of food every day and have been increasing this year by year. According to the Huffington Post, the average restaurant meal is four times larger than it was in the 1950’s. The average dinner plate in the 1960’s was 9 inches and has grown to an average size of 12 inches today. Portion control is a great way to make changes in every day eating habits. If you go out to dinner, try eating half and saving the rest for later. Try downsizing your venti latte to a grande or a tall. Be sure to always read portion sizes on labels. You will be surprised at some of the ingredients you’ll find in your food.
6. Edit your grocery list.
Go natural. When going to the grocery store, try shopping on the outer aisles, or perimeter of the store. The produce, meats, and made in-store-items are typically on the outside areas. The inside aisles contain more of the processed foods and snacks that we should be eating less of.
7. Exercise 30 minutes a day.
Almost 80% of Americans do not get the recommended amount of exercise. 30 minutes a day of moderate to intense aerobic exercise is recommended daily. Limited physical activity increases the risk of a number of deadly diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally.
Every little bit of exercise helps. If you can’t do 30 minutes consecutively, then break it into increments of 5 or 10 minutes a day. For some ideas, check out these exercises you can do anywhere.
8. Don’t beat yourself up!
Last but not least, don’t beat yourself up! Start small and keep it simple. Getting fit and staying healthy is a process. Every step counts. If you can’t work out for thirty minutes a day, then start with ten! If you really enjoy soda, then try to cut down from five a week to two a week and then one. Like life, this is a journey. Enjoy it. Eat good, workout, and feel great! You deserve it.