by Shannon Talbot
I am on a mission to help others live happier, healthier and more present lives. For the longest time, I put myself and my health last. My family and my career always took precedent. And the busier I got, the unhealthier I became. I didn’t have time to eat healthy. I didn’t have time to exercise. I was exhausted and burnt out and knew I needed a change. Just one year ago I made that change. After binging on wine, chips and chocolate most nights after the kids went to bed, I would wake up feeling lethargic, grumpy and guilty. Soon that yucky morning feeling outweighed the evening comfort feelings from the wine and chips and I slowly started new habits, healthier habits.
Today, I’m excited to share my top 7 healthy habits that have now become my regular routine (with some give and take every now and then as we’re only human). I’m hopeful this will help you create some healthier habits in your life and that after reading this you pick one or two to start implementing tomorrow. The key to habit change is doing it gradually. If we try and create too drastic a change, we usually end up right back where we started after a couple of weeks as it’s just not sustainable. We all know the phrase slow and steady wins the race – the same applies when it comes to your health.
Here are my 7 top tips to creating healthier habits:
1. Drink more water! Basically you want to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces of water every single day. If you drink coffee or alcohol, add more water to offset those. You can read my post here for further tips and tricks.
2. How many of you LOVE your sweets and aren’t ready to give them up? I have great news - you don’t have to. You can however switch to healthier sweets and still satisfy that sweet tooth. Try using stevia instead of sugar or natural sugars, such as date sugar (one of my personal favourites). Other suggestions are to add naturally sweet foods and spices to your diet, like squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, berries, figs, apples. And then spices like cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom all help curb sweet cravings.
3. Get your sleep. For many of us, this is easier said than done. But if you're constantly tired, your body is going to look for energy, usually in the form of sugar or caffeine. Power down an hour earlier than usual and notice how your cravings disappear. And by powering down I mean put away your laptops, phones, iPads and turn off the news! Try having a bubble bath, hot shower, reading or journaling. Your brain and your body will thank you. You can find more tips on healthy sleep habits here.
4. Check your protein. This is a fun, cool fact. Eating too little protein can lead to massive sweet cravings and eating too much protein, especially animal protein, can also lead to sweet cravings. The best part is, we were all given the best resource to experiment with when it comes to finding what foods work best for us - our bodies! So, experiment with protein to find your optimal kind and amount.
5. Stop counting calories and start counting chemicals. When looking at food labels, the less ingredients there are, the healthier it is. Plus, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s likely to be a chemical. Also, did you know that when food manufacturers take the fat out of food, they replace it with sugar? It can actually be healthier to go full fat. When I decided to make the switch to a more whole foods, less processed diet last summer, I counted up all the ingredients in my processed foods. The average number of ingredients was 24. Yup, 24 – with many of the ingredients chemicals. Talk about a great motivator to eat healthier. Find out more about my processed foods journey here.
6. Move your body! Movement is another kind of food for your body. It releases stress and makes you feel and look great. When you don't get enough movement, the body starts to look for other ways to blow off steam, like binging on chocolate, wine, cupcakes, etc. Did you know you technically only need 150 minutes of exercise each week where your heart rate is elevated? (Source: Centre for Disease Control & Prevention). That could be 30 minutes, 5 times a week. If you're thinking that's a lot, I challenge you to start counting the time you spend watching TV or on social media.
7. Create new post-meal rituals. If you are a dessert after dinner person, it may be more about having a ritual than the dessert itself. Try a kitchen dance party, going for a walk, playing a board game or calling a friend instead.
Lastly, one of the first things I learned as a Health Coach is knowledge doesn’t equal action. Most of us know how to be healthier - but the follow through can be hard. So to help you, I now invite all of you to share in the comments or tell a friend what are the 1 or 2 action items you’re going to implement starting tomorrow? By telling someone else, you're already more likely to go through with it! Way to go!
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