I go on health kicks several times a year. I’ve done it since I was a teenager; I have a real desire to be healthier but like most of us, something always stops my progress. The older I get, the more I learn about the impact of what I eat has on my body, and the more extreme I take my attempts at changing.
My ideal diet consists of mostly raw fruits and veggies, whole wheat grains, nuts and seeds and the occasional meat. After going on and off this diet several times, I can say without a doubt that eating as little processed foods as possible and eating food in their natural state as much as possible is the best thing I have ever done for my health. I feel energized every day, my mind feels clearer, my intestinal issues and headaches go away, and even my mood stabilizes.
So keeping it up should be a no-brainer, right? It’s not as simple as it looks. The biggest obstacle is the cost. While eating healthier isn’t the bank breaker it’s usually thought to be, it is a little more expensive. And when money gets tight, food is the first thing I cut back on- although it shouldn’t be.
My other big reason is laziness. When you have fresh foods, they spoil within days or weeks, which means more trips to the grocery store- I hate going to the grocery store. Another component? Having to prep all of the food. We live in a world where dinner comes in a box, and all we have to do is add water and stir. I like that world. But fresh produce doesn’t work like that.
It can seem overwhelming, especially if you have a family to feed as well as yourself. So, if you’re new to eating healthier, or you just want to tread lightly, here are a few simple ways to get your feet wet:
1. Replace one of your sugary drinks. Many of us drink several cups of coffee daily, as well as sodas and juice. I don’t drink sodas or juices, but I can’t live without my coffee. Most of us know we should cut back on our sugary drinks, but it’s easier said than done. To start transitioning, replace just ONE of your drinks for water with honey and lemon. I just started drinking it in lieu of coffee in the morning. Instead of having two cups of coffee (which is bad for me because I’m not supposed to have caffeine at all), I’ve cut down to half a cup. I didn’t get any withdrawal headaches, and honestly, I don’t miss having more coffee. I’ll be honest- the drink tastes like hot, sugar-less, lemonade. It’s not the best tasting- but you get used to it quicker than you think. And now, it’s a part of my routine, and I actually am starting to like it instead of just tolerating it. The recipe is simple, I add the juice of a half squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of honey to boiled water. Sometimes, I’ll add a dash of cinnamon.
2. Walk. We think we need to go crazy in the gym in order to have effective health benefits. Sometimes we ignore just how powerful a simple walk can be when we see so many people on social media squatting tons of weights, burning a zillion calories, and twisting into crazy yoga poses. Fitness and health are a marathon, not a sprint- it’s okay to go slow. I like to take a 15-30 minute walk outside everyday. The warm weather and sun are a mood booster, the fresh air feels good in my lungs, and the time gives me a chance to think if I’m by myself, or reconnect with my husband if it’s the both of us. And you don’t need to carve out much time for it- I usually just take my dog on an extended walk. You may not think a simple walk is doing anything for you, but your body will thank you.
3. It’s okay to have off-days. Remember when I was talking about all that fresh produce I like to eat? Yeah well, I love cheese too. And greasy foods. And dipping wings dripping in hot sauce in even more sauce. Add a beer with that, and I’m in heaven! So, some days are better than others. But you know what? That’s okay. As I adjust to my new healthy lifestyle, my binge days are lessening in severity, but I don’t regret a single one. At the end of the day, we are human, and life is pretty awesome with cheese. If you fall off the horse, you can always get back on it.
Whatever your health goals are, they are achievable, but don’t obsess. We spend so much time worrying about where we want to be, we forget to enjoy where we are. These are three of the small things I implemented this time around, and it’s just the start of a new and exciting lifestyle for me.
What are some small changes you’ve made in your life to promote your health?