Healthy Living: A Day in the Life
A Day in Your Life of Healthy Living
Are you determined to start living a healthier life but unsure where to begin? Sure, we all know we should eat better and get a moderate amount of exercise, but if that hasn’t been your lifestyle in the past, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Good news! It’s really simple and you don’t have to purchase one of those fad plans from Jenny Craig, or Weight Watchers. You don’t need to pay $25-$100 a month to belong to a fancy gym. Are you ready to get started, but just need a little knowledge, support and motivation? You’ve come to the right hub!
The following is an overview of one day in your new life of healthy living. You can take it from there. Good luck!
It is best to start the day with a bit of exercise. It helps boost your metabolism and gets those brain cells perked up for the day. When you roll out of bed, allow yourself an extra 45 minutes. Start by drinking one 8 oz. glass of water. It will help keep you hydrated and give you the feeling of fullness so that you aren’t tempted to eat right away. If you exercise before eating, you’ll burn more calories.
Going for a brisk walk (or run, if you’re a runner) or swim is a great way to start the day. You only need 20-30 minutes of brisk exercise before hitting the shower. But use your time wisely. That 20-30 minutes should not include dressing or travel time. That is time fully spent on working out.
After you complete your cool down stretching, you’re ready to head home and hit the shower. This will allow about 30 minutes before you consume your first meal, which is ideal.
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For breakfast, avoid premade juices or juices from concentrate, which contain too much sugar. Opt instead for freshly squeezed OJ, water or black coffee. I’m not going to tell you what to eat. That’s kind of insulting. The basic rule of thumb is, avoid foods high in sugar, bad fats, cholesterol and sodium. Fair enough? That means trading in that blueberry muffin for a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries in it. Fresh fruit is always a good choice. Bagels are far lower in fat than other bread products. They are best if eaten plain but you may add a tablespoon of peanut butter, which is packed with protein. Ever had a bagel with peanut butter and banana? Delicious! And peanut butter can also be very filling, which is good.
Consuming five or six small meals a day is better for your metabolism than eating two or three regular meals. It also helps with portion control, which is where most Americans tend to have trouble.
At mid morning, have a snack. Even if you’ve never been a big snacker, trust me, this is a great tip for weight control. Great snack ideas are: a half tuna fish sandwich (do not add mayo, which is loaded with fat); a banana (they are packed with potassium); a palmful of toasted almonds (unsalted); a palmful of blueberries (packed with antioxidants); an apple or piece of your favorite fruit; fresh carrot sticks and/or cucumbers (you can even dip them in non-fat dressing); or a granola bar.
Did you know that if you have a sedentary job, you actually burn more calories when standing than sitting? Now that’s not always practical and no one is going to stand all day hunched over a computer to burn calories. That’s just dumb. But if you are able to stand during a meeting, when talking on the phone, or when doing a brainstorming exercise, that’s better than sitting all the time. Also, give yourself a break. Every full time employee (and many part timers) is entitled to at least one break during the day, but many don’t take it. We usually think, “Hey, I’m not a smoker, so what am I going to do for 15 minutes?” How about taking a short walk around the office, or outside in nicer weather? You might even go to the break room or close your office door and doing a few light stretches. Try isometric exercise (and don’t forget your kegel muscles) if you must sit for long periods of time. It will help keep your muscles limber and you’ll feel great!
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For lunch, you should be making healthy choices you can live with. One of my favorites is a mixed green salad. Do not use iceberg lettuce. It has basically no nutrients. Choose organic mixed greens and top your salad with your favorites like shredded carrots, celery, green peppers, broccoli florets, cauliflower, cucumbers and tomatoes. You can use a tablespoon of shredded cheese (low fat or fat free is best, but hey, if you’re not into that, live a little and use the regular cheese). I also like to put chopped hard-boiled eggs on my salad. They are delicious and no, you’re not going to OD on cholesterol if you eat one. But if you’re concerned about that, then take out the yolk, which is where the cholesterol comes from, and use chopped egg whites instead. Even small amounts of meat are acceptable. Choose lean options such as chicken breast or turkey, avoiding the processed options and making your own instead. Grilling or broiling is best. When choosing your dressing, keep in mind that most contain as much fat as a small burger or other unhealthy choice. Scout out a low-fat or no fat option and stick to it. Raspberry vinaigrettes and many low-fat Italian dressings are very tasty and good for you! If you need more crunch than the lettuce and veggies provide, try having a few crackers with your salad or even a few flax seed and veggie tortilla chips.
Another favorite choice is a homemade wrap. The fat-free tortillas are far better than bread and they are delicious. Spread hummus onto the tortilla (no mayo or fatty dressings allowed!) and stuff with your favorite veggies. I prefer a mix of green, red, and yellow pepper strips, broccoli florets, mushrooms, cilantro and cucumbers. If you must have meat in your wrap, fine. Stick to the healthy choices like chicken or turkey breast. If you don’t like the hummus option and prefer something more moist or juicy, choose a fat free dressing and use sparingly. I like the Spicy Rancy dressing at Aldi’s, but I don’t use much. You need to taste it, not swim in it.
Can you have dessert? Of course! Yogurt parfaits are delicious and you can make your own easily. Fruit, yogurt and homemade granola mixed together are sweet and crunchy. What could be better?
Mid-Afternoon and After Work
Don’t forget your mid afternoon snack. It should be something small and reasonably healthy. Refer to the mid-morning snack list and pick something different than you had in the morning.
After work is a great time to get in another workout if your schedule permits. It helps to reduce stress and will boost your metabolism before you have dinner. Be sure that you have been drinking plenty of water throughout the day to maintain a feeling of fullness and keep hydrated. If you prefer flavored water, consider adding your own flavoring. Slicing lemons, limes or oranges into water is a great way to flavor them. You might even try adding raspberries. Have you ever had water with cucumbers sliced in it? It may sound weird, but try it. It’s so fresh and delicious.
If you aren’t keen on walking, running or swimming more than once per day, I don’t blame you. We all get bored doing the same things over and over. Consider these alternatives: hiking a nature trail; joining a spinning class; taking up yoga, Pilates or some other trendy exercise group like Zumba or kick boxing. If you like being in the water but don’t want to lap swim more than once a day, consider taking a deep-water aerobics class. You might also join a team sport such as soccer, softball, or volleyball. Just avoid the excessive beer drinking after the games! These types of activities are fine if you do them only two or three times per week.
Set aside one or two days a week for rest and recovery. That doesn’t mean you can eat to your heart’s content and lay on the couch all day, but you don’t need to do vigorous, if any actual workouts on these days. It will allow your muscles time to recover and to be stronger for the next workout. Rest on days that you have other commitments to avoid winding up with too many rest days.
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Dinners can be tricky because you're trying to engage the whole family in a healthier menu, rather than concentrating on healthy items just for yourself. But if your family isn’t invested in a healthy lifestyle, you’re going to fail. Plain and simple. You can’t eat healthfully while your family munches on chips, popcorn and soda in front of the TV. Getting the entire family involved in living healthfully is critical, but if you pitch it to them, they’ll probably wrinkle their noses and refuse. You have to dupe them into it. Start cooking healthy foods that everyone can enjoy without making a big announcement about it. Fatty hamburgers can be replaced by delicious turkey burgers (not every time, but most times) and you can start using healthier ingredients like low or no-fat cheese without telling anyone. Incorporating vegetables into entrees rather than as side dishes is a way to make them more palatable for even your fussiest little ones. Spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and other veggies in entrees such as lasagna, stews or hearty soups are often gobbled up without complaint. Making fruit parfaits with fat-free pudding for dessert will please everyone.
After dinner, invite the kids to go on a hike with you, but make it fun. Turning a nature hike into a scavenger hunt is a great way to keep kids engaged. You can even use the items found on the hunt to make great craft projects at home.
Getting at least eight hours of sleep each night is very important for overall health and wellbeing. Planning for a good night’s sleep is just as critical as planning exercise into your routines. Avoid caffeine in the later part of the day to facilitate more restful sleep.
Best of luck to you in your pursuit of a healthier you!
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