Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Small steps to a healthier lifestyle.

Everyone has, at least once in their life, wished to change their lifestyle a little bit. In the majority of cases, this has been to lead a generally healthier lifestyle.

Of course, the reason people want to lead a healthier lifestyle is not always to be 'healthy,' per se, but to lose weight. It's understandable due to the pressure that the media, and unfortunately our society, puts on weight and body images.

Many have trouble with really changing the kind of life that they have led for a long time, and therefore need to be eased into it.

I was one of these people. I had fast food on a regular weekly basis (sometimes more than once per week) and I led a very sedentary lifestyle, which led to slight health issues as well as generally being unfit and feeling bad about my ever-increasing weight.

So, after looking through the 'fitspo' tag on tumblr - not thinspo, thinspo is not a road you want to take to be healthy - I decided to change my lifestyle.

Of course, I messed up a lot in the beginning, but it's been four/five months that i've really implemented a better diet and exercise and I can already see the difference.

So, without further ado, here are some tips for you to begin this slow but rewarding change:

Food:


  1. Don't try to completely eliminate junk food out of your diet. Although it's not good for you, the more you try the restrict yourself, the less likely you are to actually enjoy the process and keep up with it. Don't constrain yourself too much - you'll want to rebel. 
  2. Allow yourself a cheat meal a couple of times a week and/or a cheat snack every one/two days. This will ensure that you still eat what you like without too much guilt.
  3. Try to visit a local organic store to stock up on snacks. However, it is slightly pricier than regular groceries, so what I recommend is the following. Buy some snacks. Buy some organic snacks. Start off with snacks, so that even when you're having your 'cheat' and 'guilty' foods, they're the healthy kind. I'm not trying to contradict my previous statement, but it is quite easy to find some really great snacks that suit your sweet tooth but are also good for you. Here are some from my local grocery store that taste good and have no added flavours, just healthy ingredients squished together!
  4. If organic foods are out of your range, try to go to a regular grocery store and stock up on fruits and veggies instead. This will ensure that you still get to eat sweet/salty foods whilst giving yourself some nutrition at the same time. 
  5. If you're completely addicted to chocolate, try buying dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is actually quite healthy and beneficial, so both your craving and body could benefit from it.
  6. If you want to dip your veggies in something, try hummus. Hummus is quite healthy, as is peanut butter (given it's not filled with too many things to improve the flavour). Peanut butter is high in protein, which is essential to good nutrition, as it also helps to lose weight. Having it as a pre-workout snack along with a banana and maybe some whole wheat bread is a great way to give you energy without overeating. Also, it's a great breakfast option.
  7. Protein. Protein. Protein. Protein is one of the most important things you need to be eating in order to get leaner and lose weight faster (especially if you're working out, too). Chicken, fish and spinach are just some basic foods that contain protein (a simple google search will help you find them) given you don't drown your chicken in sunflower oil. A small amount of olive oil, some salt, pepper should be enough. Throw your (preferably brined for an hour) chicken into the oven, and you've got a delicious meal that you could eat along with some steamed veggies (steaming is the healthiest option).
  8. Try to drink water every morning with a slice of lemon. It helps detox your body and helps with bloating. For this purpose, also try green and peppermint teas. Generally, teas will be your best friend during weight loss (try not to add too much sugar and milk)

Workouts:

This part can be a bit trickier if you previously led a very sedentary life. The main thing you have to remember is to build up to it. Start by taking short walks around your neighbourhood. Once your breathing is not quite as heavy, maybe increase the time of your walks or the speed (or both!). Pushing yourself to your limits is an essential part of getting fitter - and by that I mean limits, not your breaking point. Walking is cardio, and cardio is what is used to lose as many calories as possible. Other cardio exercises are jogging, running, bicycle riding, rollerskating, swimming and multiple equipments at the gym such as the treadmill and the elliptical. But hey, why pay for a membership when you could get some fresh air on the side for free?

If you are ready to move onto your toning exercises (which many people recommend to do alongside your cardio), I can recommend you two/three of my favourite youtubers who do toning AND cardio workouts:
  1. ToneItUp - Karena and Katrina are two certified nutritionists who have released workout DVDs, protein powders, bars and now vitamins. If you do a quick youtube search, you'll find their very helpful and fun workout videos. They also have a website, toneitup.com where you can find some meal plans, food ideas and motivation. 
  2. Blogilates - another great trainer who has tons of workout challenges (she really kicks your butt!) and she also has a website, blogilates.com where you can get some of her meal plans and other monthly freebies.
  3. FitnessBlender - now this is who you go to if you want to do cardio at home. They have really great workouts (including HIIT workouts which are basically high intensity cardio workouts and burn the most calories). Theirs are a bit more challenging, but who is to say you can't work yourself up to doing them?

I've previously done a post on great fitness/health apps, so make sure to check those out. Remember, don't count the calories, count the nutrition. 

Good luck!

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