Healthy Living for a Healthy Body: tips and ideas that work for me
Healthy Living for a Healthy Body
Everyone thinks they’ve got some weight to lose. Men and Women constantly battle weight gain and often resort to unhealthy diet plans for the quick weight loss fix. These quick fix diets hardly ever work long term and most people gain back the weight they lost and more. Healthy living is the key.
Healthy living comes down to a decision, one that you make and stick to for the rest of your life. There are no quick fixes when it comes to health and weight loss. You have to think about how you want to live your life and how you want to look and feel. If you can make the decision to look after your body for the rest of your life and can commit to it then, in the long term, you’ll be healthier and much happier.
Please understand that this commitment to healthy living doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be able to eat chocolate and pizza ever again or drink a few glasses of wine on the weekend. On the contrary. It’s all about balance. It’s a balance of eating and exercising. If you commit to adding this balance to your life then the rest will fall in place. You’ll achieve a healthy body through healthy living.
It’s all about the calories
It’s simple math really. If you eat more calories than your daily allowance then you need to exercise to burn off the extra calories. If you exercise for a couple of hours one day then you can eat extra calories. When you go out to dinner and eat a three course meal as well as a couple of glasses of wine then you need to cut down on your calorie intake as well as exercise to offset the indulgence.
You should start by knowing what your recommended daily allowance of calories is. For women it’s about 2000 calories and men it’s about 2500 calories. Now I have to tell you, I found this too high for me. During the work week I sit at my desk a lot, even if I try and walk around as much as possible, I just don’t burn the calories. Plus I’m now 50 and the older you get, the less calories you burn. You have to understand your metabolism and factor in how active you are during the day.
Nearly all my life I’ve eaten fairly healthily. Lots of fruit and vegetables have always been included in my diet. What I’ve been good about is moderating any processed foods and fatty foods. For example, I love sausage rolls but these are both loaded with fat and full of unhealthy processed meats. This doesn’t mean I don’t ever eat sausage rolls. In fact, I have to stop myself from buying them every time I walk past them in the supermarket. These are types of foods that should be eaten in moderation. Most ‘golden’ foods like french fries, crisps, crackers and really anything fried, are generally unhealthy and will quickly pack on the pounds.
Add some color to your plate
The more colorful foods you eat the better. Lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet is a great way to start. Meat is fine as long as it’s not processed but you really don’t need to eat a lot of meat at all. Eggs are a fabulous source of protein. I always keep a few boiled eggs in the fridge. They’re an excellent snack or delicious on a salad. Nuts and seeds are essential to a healthy body but these should be eaten in moderation as well. You really only need a small palm full to get a daily allowance of these nutrients.
Don’t forget the water either! A healthy body is always well hydrated. You can Google what your average daily intake should be but I promise that the results you find will differ massively. Just drink as much water as you can, without going crazy. I probably drink 2 to three pints of water a day which is pretty good but isn’t the recommended daily intake. Surprising I know!
It goes without saying to cut out unnecessary calories. If you like salad dressings like I do then you’ll know that they can be loaded with fat and calories and completely sabotage the benefits of a salad. Thankfully, there’s lots of great low calorie dressings in the supermarket.
Cut down on the bread
Bread is really a pointless filler. There’s hardly anything nutritious about bread, even the heartiest brown or wheat loaf. You’re much better off with a handful of nuts or seeds. The trouble with bread is that it’s often accompanied by butter or mayonnaise, both of which are definitely not good for a health body. Sandwiches can be a minefield so it’s just better to avoid them all together. We hardly ever buy bread so that the temptation to make toast or sandwiches is removed.
Again, I want to stress that I don’t cut bread out completely, or sandwiches. I sometimes bake bread at home. Our weekend meals are often full of ‘treats’ including home made bread or mashed potatoes and sometimes a delicious dessert! We do tend to cook from scratch though and include lots of healthy fresh ingredients. Even though our weekend meals may be higher in fat and calories, they’re still filled with nutrients. I just make sure that I balance out the extra weekend calories with low calorie weekday meals and exercise.
First things first
Before thinking about losing extra pounds I recommend that you fix what you eat and you add exercise. Don’t set any weight loss goals initially. Change how you treat your body for 4 weeks and see what that does. Most likely you will lose weight anyway. Cutting out those golden foods and unnecessary fat and calories will naturally bring down your weight, especially if they have been the main staples to now.
Exercise can be what you want. Walking, running, weight lifting, tennis, swimming, you name it. It should be something you enjoy especially if you plan to commit to regular exercise. Mixing it up is good too. Your body gets used to the same exercise and it gets boring doing the same thing every day. The government publish all kinds of minimum exercise requirements but I say go with what you can manage, especially at first.
Ideally you’ll be exercising a little every day but that’s just not always practical. I really enjoy weigh lifting and will get to the gym every other day. Tennis and badminton are a couple of my favorite sports, so I mix those in when I can. I believe that the best exercise regime is every other day for at least an hour.
Whatever you do though, do it regularly and don’t skip a day that you planned to exercise. Once you miss one day, you’ll miss more. Stick to your schedule.
As I suggested earlier, don’t set any weight loss goals for the first 4 weeks of your new healthy living commitment. If you include exercise in those 4 weeks as well then I’m confident you will lose weight as a by-product. You will certainly look healthier and feel healthier. Stay off the scales!! These are destructive in my opinion as they’re usually a source of frustration. In my experience my weight goes up after a lot of exercise in a week and if I ever used them daily then my weight swing could be three to four pounds in a day.
The best practice is to simply see how your clothes fit after the first 4 weeks. Most likely, if you’ve truly committed to your new healthy living lifestyle, your clothes will be loose. Weigh yourself at this point if you like, just to see how much you’ve lost but honestly I’d just donate the scales to charity. Your clothes will tell you all you need to know as well as your bright and rosy cheeks and an extra pep in your step.
Get techie with it
I highly recommend an app that helps you understand the nutrients, calories and fat in the food your eating. Without this you may not realize how many calories you’re eating in a day or which nutrients you’re missing. The one I like to use is called ‘Lose It’. It has a pretty extensive database of food labels so it’s easy to scan the food you’re eating and understand its nutrition and calories etc., even fruit and vegetables. Otherwise you can enter the name of the food and search through the database or even add your own custom foods.
You can set weight loss goals on here as well as what you’d like your daily calorie to be. As we talked about earlier, it’s important to understand what your ideal daily calorie intake should be as it’s different for everyone. With this app I found that really easy. I set my daily allowance to 1600 calories but I often have 1200 or less days, especially those when I’m at work at my desk all day. The app links with several popular exercise apps that come with the Fitbit or Apple Watch. It will deduct the calories you burned from your daily allowance. Even though I’ve always eaten fairly healthily and exercised, I have been surprised by what I was actually eating and burning off.
Get some sleep
Sleep is just as important to a healthy body as food is. I find that my body (and brain) works best on 7 hours of sleep a night. To achieve that I try and go to bed at the same time as well as wake up at the same time. There’s lots of great tips on the internet to help you get a good night’s sleep.
You could also Google what amount of sleep is recommended for you based on age usually. I love my iPhone app called ‘Sleep Cycle’. I’ve used it for a year now to log my sleep patterns. It’s quite in depth on it’s analytics and provides some insightful information about your sleeping patterns. Sleep Cycle very easy to use and has a great wake up feature to help you wake up more naturally and around your sleep patterns. It’s a pretty comprehensive app and I highly recommend downloading it.
My healthy living weekly breakdown:
I thought it might be useful to share what my food and exercise schedule looks like over a week….
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
On workout days I’ll have the 5am breakfast but on non workout days I will only have my coffee and then latter before 10am.
5am – Breakfast – 1 cup of Fage Total 0% fat Yoghurt with a few strawberries and a small handful of crushed Special K. Small cup of coffee with a half teaspoon of brown sugar and a teaspoon of non fat Milk (I love BOB milk)
6.15am Weight lifting – 1 hour at the gym. Weight lifting includes cardio sessions in between weight sets so that my heart rate is between 120 and 140 for the entire hour.
8.30am – Arrive at Work with a Grande Non Fat Latte with half a teaspoon of brown sugar (100 calories approx)
10am – Boiled egg
Lunch time – Pear and non fat yoghurt (no sugar substitute) sometimes with fresh berries mixed into the yoghurt.
4pm – Arrive home. Snack – another boiled egg or cold meat leftover from Sunday Roast. Sometimes I’ll have a bag of low calorie popcorn – usually the Marks and Spencer kind with 80 calories a bag.
6pm – Dinner – Salad with lettuce, mushrooms, beetroot, tomatoes, spring onions, red pepper, a few seeds sprinkled on top and a low calorie dressing.
8.30pm – Bed with one biscuit. Rich tea are a great treat for being ‘good’ all day. One biscuit is only 40 calories.
This is the same as above except for the following
6pm – Sushi night! Kevin stops on the way home and brings a selection of sushi as well as sashimi in the form of Ahi Tuna. YUM! This is filling but at the same time super health, oh and – delicious!! I’ll often have two large glasses of wine on a Friday.
Saturday and Sunday
As before, these may be workout or non workout days. If I workout then I’ll have my yoghurt breakfast early as above but on a non workout day I often won’t eat until 10:00. Weekends tend to be more active for us too so I increase the calories with fruit or vegetable snacks as needed.
10am – light snack – boiled egg or small tub of yoghurt, or some fruit
Lunch time – fruit, veg dip with humous or Ryvita with fat free cream cheese
Dinner – usually a nice homemade meal made with fresh ingredients. We try and keep the portions small but anything goes really, for example, Spaghetti Bolognese, Thai GreenCurry, baked Cod with herb crust and rice. Always includes a glass of wine or two.
Bed Time – Treat time! The usual, carefully selected, low calorie dessert.
You can see how we totally enjoy our weekends with some indulgent meals. I still exercise to make sure I keep up with the every other day regime. Eating lighter and more sensibly in the week offsets a little fun on the weekends. We keep it fresh too with making sure that we don’t cheat with ready meals or processed foods.
When doing our weekly grocery shop, we typically don’t buy things we know we’ll indulge in like crisps and chocolate. Anything that will sabotage your diet should stay in the supermarket. It makes life much easier when the only things available to eat at home are healthy.
Make the commitment and think balance!!
Commit to your new healthy living lifestyle and see where you’re at after 4 weeks. I bet you’ll have a hard time returning to your old bad habits if you’ve successfully completed 4 weeks of healthy living and exercise. Balance out your calorie intake by eating less when you’re not active or have indulged and eating a little more when you’ve exercised. Above all else, stop eating rubbish food. Eat as much fresh food as you can and cut out the junk like crisps and golden foods. Good luck!