Spoiler alert: You won't see dieting, running marathons, or starving on the list. We can all get behind these quick ideas.
Reports have shown 71 million Americans have gained weight during the pandemic.
Let's cover a list of dos (not don'ts) to create a healthier lifestyle.
I love starting with this one! I'm guessing I surprised you. Rest is so important for a healthy lifestyle. We're not talking about lounging on the couch binge-watching Friends ... again. Think of ways that your mind and body are truly at rest.
Create a space and set aside time for you to get enough sleep each night. Before you voice hindrances such as small children or unique work hours, let's all agree to do the best we can. While you might not get the recommended 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, you might find yourself closer to the goal with just a few changes.
- Consider purchasing a noise machine. If you find that your life and your home are just too quiet for you to sleep, this might be a great option for you.
- Try trading off nights with the kids. Ask your spouse to be "on-call" certain nights of the week while you take the others. This could help you get a great night's sleep many nights.
- Turn off electronics before bed. While you might enjoy watching TV or reading on your iPad right before bed, the electronic blue light can affect your ability to enter into a deep, restful sleep.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
You knew this would make the list, so let's get it out of the way. It's not just your mother who says fruits and vegetables are good for you. Though, we're not suggesting you just grin and bear your least favorite fruits and vegetables because they're good for you. There are certain foods even us adults just can't get down (steamed Brussels sprouts, anyone?). Try new fruits and vegetables to see which kinds you prefer ... and even like. It's best to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen options are still good for you, and canned fruits and vegetables have fewer nutrients than fresh due to the canning process.
The recommendation is at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day (and up to nine servings!). Don't just stop at five. Fruits and vegetables are a natural source of many vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are essential to your body's health. The American Dietetic Association lists lots of creative ways to get in your fruits and vegetables each day.
Drink More Water
Again this might not be news to you, but water is essential for many of the body's systems (brain function, pumping blood, digestion, etc.). Some people dislike the taste of water or would prefer more flavor to their beverages. Consider adding lemon or lime juice to your glass of water for added flavor. You can also infuse a pitcher of water with a variety of fruit, vegetable, and herb flavors. Try strawberry-banana, lavender-mint, or cucumber-melon, and you're on your way to enjoying drinking more water.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women are to drink 92 ounces of water per day (and men 124 ounces). People have set the goal of drinking two glasses of water before breakfast or reaching a water milestone before their first cup of coffee for the day.
This is a fun one! Exercise doesn't have to be a four-letter word, and it doesn't need to be a chore. There are countless ways for us to move each day, and we all don't have to choose the same form of exercise (whew!). While some enjoy running, you might prefer kayaking or rowing. Boxing can relieve a great deal of stress, and walking on a bike trail definitely counts as moving.
Grab a friend and try a variety of ways to move. You can enjoy talking and laughing while walking or paddleboarding. You can share the adventure of hiking or fitness classes. Check out the offerings at a local athletic club or recreational center. The point is to move ... and to have fun while doing it.
Include More Variety and Moderation
Toddlers often enjoy the same foods over and over (ever hear of a pancake phase?). But as adults, we benefit from a wide variety of foods. There are no "good" and "bad" foods. Certain foods should be consumed often, while other foods can be eaten on occasion. Bring on the fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and dairy every day. Though a large burger and fries can be enjoyed on special occasions.
Listen to your body when it's full, and eat modified portions of food. Regardless of what your mom says, you don't need to clean your plate. If you're full, consider boxing up the rest of your meal to have the next day. Food manufacturers don't always do us a favor with serving sizes. Have you noticed that a standard candy bar often contains two or three servings? Who in their right mind grabs a knife and cuts up a candy bar into serving sizes? I'm thinking most people open the wrapper and devour the entire bar. Here are some tips on knowing the differences between serving size and portion size.
Whew! You made it through the list, and I don't think you saw any mention of dieting, running marathons, or starving. A healthy lifestyle can be fun and so worth it. You'll be glad you made some changes.
What new healthy habits have you implemented this year? Tell us in the comments.