6 Tips to Improve Nutrition and Overall Health You can start Today and Maintain for Life!!!

How many times have you said, "I'm starting a new diet" or "I'm going to make lifestyle changes" and then you eat your words and it all fizzles out? You are not alone.

And why does it have to be a "diet?" Most people hear the word diet and think restrictions, boring and not fun, right? Right.

It doesn't need to be a "diet" or a crash course on starvation to lose 15lbs by vacation and then nothing lasts after the fact. When we decide to improve our health, reach certain goals via nutrition and fitness, those changes should be permanent. A new way of living life and eating food. Not a 30 day challenge or 7 day cleanse or blah blah blah. Commit to permanent lifestyle changes that help you reach your goal and allow for balance and happiness. You won't stick to it if it sucks, so find ways to make it suck less and make you happy more.

Below are 5 tips you can initiate now to achieve positive changes in your life via nutrition and fitness.

Tip 1: Drink WATER!!!!

Yes, drink water. Lots of water. Til your pee is light yellow. I'm serious.

You should be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. If you weigh 150lbs then you would drink at a minimum 75oz, that equals about 5 (16oz) bottles of water. I know most y'all ain't even gettin' 2 bottles in, time to level up!!! Hydrate that body of yours!

In return, decrease and slowing eliminate other beverages that are high in sugar or fake stuff. Look at ingredient labels, read what you're actually drinking. Cappuccinos, lattes, sweetened teas, soda, etc are all loaded with sugar and/or fake sugars which add up to empty calories and they do not hydrate you. Black coffee, unsweetened teas, and kombucha are all great beverages to add to your daily water intake that won't add tons of calories but will add some flavor to your life. Adding real lemon or lime to your water can help spice it up and make it less boring as well. Another helpful tip if you struggle with busyness and forgetting to drink, download an app! I use a water remind app on my watch to buzz me every 90min, reminding me to drink water. It has helped my own consumption tremendously.

Tip 2: Eat More Veggies!!!

Set a goal of getting at least 4 servings of veggies per day. FOUR. You can do it, I believe in you.

How? Add a veggie to every meal and have some as a snack. Boom. Done.

Throw spinach or kale in your breakfast protein smoothie or add a handful to your eggs. And really, you can eat green beans for breakfast if you want, don't let anyone tell you you can't!!

Have a mixed green salad for lunch or roast veggies or raw veggies...any veggie!

Saute, roast, or grill veggies with your dinner. Use cauliflower rice or pearls instead of rice or in addition to your rice. Zucchini, butternut squash and spaghetti squash go great with pesto or a tomato sauce.

Have carrots or any raw veggie with hummus or guacamole as a snack.

The best way to be successful in your veggie intake is to be prepared. Make a large batch of roasted veggies on Sunday to eat throughout the week. My fave....sweet potatoes, a few strips of bacon cut up, and either brussell sprouts, asparagus, or sugar snap peas and mushrooms. Place them all on a jelly roll pan, roast at 425* for approximately 20 min, flipping once. I add my mushrooms after about 10min so they don't overcook. Wash your veggies when you get home from the grocery and separate them into containers so you can grab and go. Eat yo veggies yo!!!

Tip 3: Get Your Head Right.

Mindset is the majority of it all. When we make our minds up about something and DECIDE to follow through with it, we are unstoppable.

You must make the decision and take action. Be conscious of the choices you are making each day. Journal about your goals and why you are making these changes to reach them. Leave yourself sticky notes on the bathroom mirror and on the fridge door. Ask a friend to help keep you accountable. Involve your spouse or significant other so they can support you and possibly join you in positive changes. Hire a coach (hey, I know a girl...wink, wink).

Remember that change and results take time. Be patient. Every day that you make effort is progress and leaning into a healthier you.

Tip 4: Move Your Body Daily!!

Move your body daily does not mean soul crushing, 2hr long workouts at the gym, or running 10miles. Move your body daily means just that, move it, every day, for 20-60min.

Ways to move your body include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from store entrances, walking, running, biking, rowing, hiking, swimming, weight lifting, group classes like spin, Crossfit, yoga, pilates, orange therapy, kick boxing, etc. Walking for 20min every day is

plenty and a great place to start. You don't need to go rogue here and then not be able to go up the stairs for a week. Start small then if it interests you, add more or change it up. Weight bearing exercises like walking, running, yoga, weight lifting, are best due to the fact that they make our bones stronger. Swimming and biking are great aerobic exercises but they are not weight bearing, so mix it up and walk some days is you're an avid swimmer or biker.

By moving daily and using our muscles and bones, we strengthen them and keep them healthy. Inactivity weakens our bodies. Advice from my 91yr old patient who still mows his own lawn, "Don't stop using your body or it will stop working for you."

Tip 5: Allow for Food Freedom and Balance.

Y'all know I preach BALANCE...but what does that mean or even look like?

It looks like pizza on a Friday night with your family, cake on your birthday, pie at Thanksgiving, drinks with friends on a Saturday, dinner out for date night, a piece of dark chocolate on a Tuesday...do you get it now?

When we allow for some freedom and balance in our food choices then we are mentally healthier, we feel less restricted, we don't feel held back for social outings or during holidays. It's so important to still eat foods that you love!! Life is short, eat the cake. And then eat the broccoli tomorrow. I recommend to all my clients that they have a "refeed" meal once a week. I don't like to use the word "cheat" because that's a negative term and I also never want anyone to feel restricted. So refeed and enjoy it. Following the 80/20 rule works well for most people and they are still able to reach their goals and maintain them long term.

Ok so last night I had pizza, now this morning I hate myself, I feel like crap, I've undone all my hard work this week, I suck. Ever had these thoughts? Yep, me too. Why do we feel guilty about eating pizza or a piece of chocolate? We shouldn't. First of all, one refeed meal per week will not undo all your progress. Secondly, we gotta work on our relationship with food. The labels "good" and "bad" drive me crazy, that's why we're all walking around with food guilt in our brains. I use the term "high quality food." Eat high quality food most of the time, allow for a refeed once a week or on special occasions and you'll feel much better, physically and mentally.

Tip 6: Sleep!

Getting adequate sleep is huge! Our bodies and brains need time to recover and rejuvenate from all the hard things we put them through during the day. Strive to get 7-10hrs of good sleep every night.

Sleep aids our brain in detox, memory, happiness and mood. It also helps us reach and maintain a healthy body composition, athletic performance, pain management and immunity. If you are someone who struggles to get enough sleep or sleep well, start with a bedtime routine. Make your bedtime earlier to allow for more sleep time, power off electronics at least an hour before bed, read instead of scrolling social media, limit caffeine late in the day, practice meditation or bedtime yoga to help slow your brain and relax your mind and body. Certain blends of essential oils can also aid in sleep. Turn on white noise or a fan, wash your sheets regularly, as well as maintain a cool room temperature.

In closing, food is what fuels us. You wouldn't put sugar or low quality fuel in the tank of you car so treat your body the same and fuel it with high quality foods, most of the time.

Exercise doesn't have to be extravagant to be beneficial, just start moving your body every day. Get enough quality sleep.

Mental health and self love play a giant role in our overall well being. Seek help if you're struggling, journal, read books, listen to Podcasts, something that will help you mentally become stronger and start loving the body you were given. Treat it with respect, it does a lot for you.

It's crucial that we build a healthy relationship with food, exercise and our bodies and take action to change. If we change nothing, nothing changes.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Be well!

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