With the rise in popularity of all things health and fitness, has come an abundance of free, online, information and resources.
Which is great!
Everything you need is just a click away. Only there’s too much, isn’t there?!
Too many diets to choose from. Too many conflicting ideas. Too many influencers all saying different things.
Information overload, and you’re stuck like a rabbit in the headlights.
The truth is, it really isn’t that difficult to be healthy.
The best, most effective things, are actually quite simple.
And the best results come simply from consistency; doing these things every day, for ever.
Sure there’ll be the odd blow out pizza party or day in your pj’s watching TV, but that won’t matter if most of the time you’re doing these 10 basic healthy steps.
There are many activities you do sitting down each day where you could be moving instead. Always sit comfortably while eating, but when you’re on your phone (either chatting or scrolling social media), pace around. Go for a walk with a friend rather than a coffee (or finish you walk with a stop at a café?), and stand and watch your kids’ after school clubs rather than slouching in a chair.
Well it is movement, but general movement like walking and housework (known as NEAT – non exercise activity thermogenesis) should be in addition to more strenuous exercise. That means feeling hot, sweaty and achy. It could be a challenging local class, a gym session lifting weights, or an intense home bodyweight workout, just make sure it’s challenging and you’ll be making progress in your fitness and strength.
At least roughly. Calories are THE most important factor for weight loss, so if you get this wrong you’ll never achieve your weight or body shape goals.
That being said, calories aren’t the only thing. You can eat the right calorie intake of chocolate digestives and canned soup, but you wouldn’t be healthy. Whole, real foods, or foods made from real food (like nutty snack bars, good quality protein shakes) should make up most of your diet, with only a small amount coming from empty calorie junk as treats.
Do you feel better on fewer, large meals, for example skipping breakfast and having a large lunch and evening meal? Or are you more of a snacker? Both are fine, so long as your over all calorie intake is good, your hunger and cravings are low while energy is high, it fits within your life and schedules, and the food you eat it mostly nutritious. Do what works for you. And stick to your routine as much as possible – your body likes a predictable routine.
Protein at every meal keeps hunger at bay and is needed to repair muscles after exercise. Fibre, in the form of non-starchy vegetables (starchy ones being potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes and yams, which are heavier in carbohydrates) are high in water so filling while being low calories, and very high in vitamins. Most people can’t over eat vegetables, so pile your plate high!
A healthy body eating a nutritious diet doesn’t need supplements (side note; protein powder is a food not a supplement). Most people do, however, have one or two things that could be helped through supplements. Oily fish is great for good brain health, preventing dementia, and helping mood disorders. Vitamin D is probably needed by anyone with dark skin living in Northern parts of the world, especially in Winter (find out more about home Vitamin D testing here). Probiotics can really help IBS, and iron levels can be low in menstruating women, especially if you get heavy periods.
8. Stress Less
Stress, and not enough sleep (sometimes caused by stress) raise cortisol, which encourages fat storage round your tummy. Hunger are cravings are worse when you’re tired and stressed, and willpower is lower. Life is generally easier all round when you’re sleeping lots and not stressing out. Try the meditation app Headspace; I love it.
If you have just 7 lunch, and 7 evening meals you know how to make (breakfast is usually easier), you’ll have endless choices, since all you have to do is vary the protein (meat, fish), vegetables, and flavourings like spices and low calorie condiments you use. A chicken and broccoli stir fry with ginger can easily be morphed into a prawn and bok choi stir fry with miso, with no new cooking skills needed.
Physical health is meaningless without mental health. Have good relationships, friends, family, fun, relaxation time and laughter as part of your life, regularly. The value of this can’t be understated. Loneliness and isolation leads to lack of self-care, and even self-destruction.