I had a completely different post topic planned for this week entailing the inside scoop from our recent winery operations, but our family got a little sidetracked and, well, here it’s Thursday and I haven’t pulled it together. Instead, I’m following my gut’s lead (somewhat literally) and posting some health and fitness tips that have been idling in my mind lately.
You know how January goes – personal health seems to finally take a priority for at least 31 days. As a personal trainer I have big mixed emotions about this time of year. The kind that make me grin and say, “Ah…January.” For one, I’m always happy to see people think about their health and wellness and make changes. On the other hand, watching some sprint out of the gate and then hit the wall by March gets tiresome. I applaud all efforts, I do. I would just love to see them stick. I feel like my kids when they see a freshly wrapped present and get all spring-happy and then I have to tell them it’s for someone else. All hopes: Thrown down, stepped on and crushed. “But whyyy?”
I tend to call myself a real-world trainer, which simply means I don’t jump on diet trends, I don’t prescribe cleanses and extreme fitness fads and my specialty is helping people learn how to be healthy and still enjoy life’s little pleasures without the guilt associations. But hey, if you want to read all about that rant, check out this post. Otherwise, let’s dive in for some real-world tips!
I thought about all the things I could recommend you do but when it comes down to it, there are 10 super easy tips I have for getting your health on-track. Even if you’re a moderately healthy and fit person, I think these are great reminders for staying the course. With that said, this is in no way an exhaustive list. I would love to hear: What are YOUR tricks and tips for making easy changes to your health? Leave a comment below if you’ve got some for us!
10 Super Easy Healthy Changes You Can Make Now
1. Drink warm lemon water. If you’ve been following this blog at all you’ve likely read this a few times. That’s because I swear by it. First thing every morning, pour yourself a cup of warm water and add a wedge of lemon. How much lemon juice? It depends on the lemons you get. I prefer using Meyer lemons because they yield so much more juice, so I only need to use one wedge. But Meyers can be hard to find. If I’m using a typical lemon I’ll use about a fourth of it per cup. Do this before you drink your coffee or eat anything. If you try it for a few days, you’ll understand why it’s so great based on digestive reasons alone. But if you want to know now why I’m so obsessed with it, read all about the metabolic and overall health benefits here.
2. Make a green smoothie for breakfast. If you really want to give your digestive system a boost, combine the above tip with a green smoothie for breakfast. I know you’re thinking you don’t have time to make a smoothie in the mornings. As it is I’m lucky if I get to make them once or twice a week. But eventually you get pretty good at it, which means you’ll spend less time making breakfast than you do scanning your Facebook feed. Also, you get a bit addicted to the feeling of being nourished by one. So with that said, try out some recipes and start by using spinach, since it’s the most versatile green for smoothie-making. If you have protein powder you can throw that in, or use plain nonfat Greek yogurt instead. One of my staple green smoothies is made with a handful of baby spinach, a cup of unsweetened almond milk, a frozen banana, 1/2 cup of frozen dark cherries, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, a few ice cubes and maybe a drizzle of honey.
3. Switch to a food-based multivitamin. This is actually something I just did, as did one of my good friends. So far I’m loving it. After years of taking a generic women’s one-a-day during my 20s, then spending the last three years on a prescription prenatal, I had no clue what to start taking. I knew I didn’t want a bunch of unknowable stuff in my body (that I would consequently pee out anyway) and I knew I needed something to complement my already vitamin-rich way of eating (iron and probiotics are the two I need extra of the most). After much searching and price-comparing I landed on the Rainbow Light brand (which I found at Fred Meyer in the natural section). If you’re in need of a natural way to get in some complementary vitamins, minerals and enzymes, check it out or just do a Google search for “food based multivitamin.”
4. Walk 2 miles a day. Seriously? Okay so this is something I’ve just started doing this week. Yes, it’s winter and yes, it’s cold outside. But those are excuses. My kids appreciate the air time and my body appreciates the extra cardio. Plus this takes me about 18 minutes if I decide to run or 30 minutes if I walk, so even on extremely busy days I can’t complain about the time it takes. If I already worked out that day, it’s an extra calorie burner. If I haven’t (like today), it’s a sanity saver.
5. Buy a fitness/health/wellness magazine to refresh your outlook. I don’t subscribe to many magazines anymore (other than Food & Wine, ha), but I do enjoy buying the occasional magazine to boost my knowledge/see what’s new in the health and fitness world/try new recipes and workouts. Sure this stuff is also all over the web, but I find magazines are such a concentrated wealth of information even in this era of smart phones we live in. I have plans for a post about my favorite magazines, so more on that another time. In the meantime, check out Oxygen or Natural Living for a start.
6. Try a new health food. You can do this once a week or once a month, but I find that trying out a new healthy item every once in a while keeps me from getting bored. Sometimes I’ll try a new cooking oil (like pistachio), or a snack (recently it was crunchy roasted broccoli florets – so good!), or a new fruit (ever had a dragon fruit?). Places like Trader Joe’s or Rosauers are perfect for finding this kind of stuff.
7. Stop eating two hours before bed. If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that no matter how I’ve ate or drank throughout the day, my body does best when I give it some alone time. While I don’t necessarily think people who eat late gain more weight than people who don’t, I do think you’re better off metabolically if you don’t go to bed on a full stomach. Also, if you’re like me and you eat around 6:30-7:00 pm and have a glass of wine, you might be tempted to reach for the dark chocolate somewhere around 9 pm (after the kiddos go to bed). I find I do far better if I have a piece of dark chocolate at, say, 8 pm and call it. That way if I’m in bed at 10 pm I’m not miserable and I’ve also fixed the issue of eating more than I truly need (too much alcohol and sugar tend to cause us to wake up hours later and have trouble falling back to sleep). Try it and see what you notice.
8. Drink 2-3 cups of green tea a day. This is far easier to do in the winter months, but as it turns warmer you can simply switch to unsweetened iced green tea. There are all sorts of reasons this is good for you. Metabolically speaking again, green tea is a pretty superior force. It does have a small amount of caffeine in it naturally (unless you specifically buy the decaf kind), so I would recommend not drinking it past 3 or 4 pm so as not to interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night. To read about the health benefits of this stuff, check this out.
9. Go meatless one day a week. You’ve likely heard health and fitness professionals recommend doing this, or at least recommend eating meat-free one night a week. I suggest one whole day simply to let your body detox from it. You probably noticed I’m no stranger to lean meats and I would likely be divorced if I told my husband we need to stop eating meat altogether. But I find a good compromise is this rule. Thanks to the web and magazines and cookbooks, there are tons of great meat-free recipes you can experiment with.
10. Set a small, realistic goal for the immediate future. Everyone needs accountability. I think the best way to get that is by setting 4-week goals. Maybe those goals are stepping stones to a much bigger goal, or maybe not. I find this time of year particularly motivating because my birthday is in February and even if my goal isn’t to lose weight, it’s always my goal to feel my best. So I have no trouble fueling my body, mind and spirit right now. After my birthday month comes and goes it’ll be a different goal, something to keep me on the path. Maybe your 4-week goal is to lose 3 pounds, maybe it’s to see your cholesterol numbers drop or sleep better or lose some inches or workout more. Maybe it’s to walk two miles a day. Set your goal and work daily to reach it.