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Are you trying to lose weight? Get in shape? Increase your endurance? Lower your cholesterol? Control inflammation? Eat more protein? Eat fewer carbs? Recover from injury? Whatever your goals are, getting healthier is about eating nutritiously, exercising, and sleeping well. It’s a big change for a newbie, but it’s easy if you incorporate these everyday strategies to get into the best head-to-toe shape and health.
1. Consult a doctor before you start any diet or exercise program. If you have a medical issue, it’s important to know what works best for you. Some foods that are considered healthy for most people might cause allergies or trigger medical conditions. Some injuries can be exacerbated by exercise.
2. Shop smart and eat fresh. Make a grocery list of exactly what you need to buy and stick to it. Avoid going down the dry food aisles unless you’re buying grains or oils. Stick to the refrigerated aisles for whole foods that nourish your body. If you have trouble avoiding temptation in the snack aisle, place your grocery order online and have it delivered to you. Another healthy shopping option is to have Imperfect Produce delivered weekly. You’ll be helping prevent food waste while getting fresh produce at a discount.
3. Cook your meals at home. Cooking will save you money and calories. Pre-packaged foods have preservatives and restaurant meals are prepared with lots of fat, sodium, and sugar. When you’re the chef of your own meals, you know exactly what’s going into every bite.
4. Log your food. Food tracking apps aren’t just for people who are counting calories to lose weight. You can log your food to keep track of your macros (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) and vitamin/mineral intake. You’ll know whether your nutritional values are up to par throughout the day so you can adjust your food intake to make up for any excess or deficiency.
5. Practice portion control. Americans have been conditioned to eat large portion sizes. We usually eat more than our bodies need for optimum health and function. Calculate how much you should be eating per day with a metabolic calculator, and portion out your food throughout the day according to those needs. Many dedicated food loggers still overeat because they make inaccurate guesses about their portion sizes. To reduce calorie consumption, use a digital scale and measuring cup to help you keep track with accurate serving sizes.
6. Eat your biggest meal early. Your last meal of the day should be your lightest meal, eaten at least a few hours before bedtime. Too early, and you might get hungry again right before bedtime. Too late, and you’ll have trouble sleeping as your body works to digest the last meal.
7. Go for an after-dinner walk. A brisk walk after a meal will help you digest your food, get your heart rate up, burn some calories, and bring you more restful sleep. Since a night time walk won’t overexert you, it won’t keep you up the way a full workout will.
8. Exercise earlier in the day. A fitness regimen is just as important as a healthy diet. Try to workout at least three days a week for 30 minutes or more. If you’re short on time, a HIIT program can help you get the most out of a short workout. A high-impact exercise is better to complete in the morning so that your metabolism is revved up for the day and your body gets tired at night, great for restful deep sleep.
9. Read a book before bed. Reading is a non-stimulating activity that can help you fall asleep faster and avoid the blue light from your phone. It also keeps your brain healthy.
The path to good health is filled with learning curves and road bumps. It might seem overwhelming at first, but all it takes is one minor change in your lifestyle to get started. You might not turn into a health expert overnight, but you can incorporate small actions that grow into good habits. It won’t be long before you become stronger, leaner, fitter, happier and more productive.