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Most of us start the New Year with grand plans of resolutions and goals, and yet by February most of these goals have fallen to the wayside. January is often a hectic month dealing with the aftermath of Christmas and bringing a bundle of new stresses with the start of New Year. So instead of offering up a blog post on how to keep your resolutions, or resolutions you ‘should’ be making, we have put together some simple tips to help keep you healthy in both body and mind for 2014.
Some of the tips may be obvious but they are also easy to forget! Whether you want to lose weight, increase your strength, de-stress or simply sleep more every night, finding your healthy zen will help you feel better and hopefully ensure a year of smoother sailing.
Let’s face it; this isn’t the easiest job in the world! With fast food, treats and junk being constantly advertised and forced upon you it is hard to avoid the temptation of so many delicious foods. However, there are plenty of healthy options that are as equally delicious but are overlooked because they are not ready to go and branded.
As with exercise, once you’ve started eating healthy, the easier it is to keep up - it’s just getting past that first hurdle! Here are a few tips to help you on your way to healthy eating.
Fruit and Veg: The New World
There are so many different fruit and veg for you to try. Many people struggle with eating their five-a-day because they do not like many (mainstream) fruit and veg – but how many veggies have you actually tasted? Have you tried cooking them in various different ways? It’s time to explore outside the comfort zone and try something new, whether a lychee or a zucchini, you have nothing to lose but plenty to gain!
Drinking enough water in a day is not as easy as it seems. With distractions and work, it can sometimes be very easy to get to the end of your day without having drunk so much as a glass of water, especially if you are tea and coffee drinker. It is, however, important to fit in a couple of glasses of water in a day.
The NHS recommends 1.6 litres a day of fluid for women and 2 litres for men. While they recommend ‘fluid’, compiling this amount of fluid solely from tea, coffee, squash or even fizzy drinks isn’t necessarily the healthiest option for your body. A healthy mix of everything is a good idea, with water, milk and fruit juices at the top of the healthy list and fizzy, ‘added sugars’ drinks at the bottom as they are both high in calories and bad for your teeth.
Make these healthy and small. Going for longer periods without eating can mean that you overeat when you do sit down to a meal because you feel so hungry, but this isn’t good for your body. Small and healthy snacks- fruit, yoghurts, veg sticks and hummus – can help keep the hunger at bay (especially in the afternoon) so that when you reach your evening meal, you don’t overeat.
Drinking your calories…
Big one here, we often forget that we can drink our calories and this isn’t always the healthiest option! This includes fizzy drinks, sweetened coffees (hazelnut etc) and of course the worst offenders - milkshakes and Frappuccinos! Think of all of these as a treat and not as a regular fixture.
Hearty Home Cooking
Don’t fall into the easy meal trap this year. Homemade food is cheaper, healthier and can last for many meals, whether frozen for another time or taken for lunch leftovers, home cooking is key to healthy eating. You can control the amount of salt, sugar and calories that go into the meal as well as cutting out any preservatives – just remember that portion size is important too – using a smaller plate can be a helpful guide.
This also goes hand in hand with rationing yourself to one takeaway meal fortnightly or once a month to cut down on greasy unhealthy meals and food costs. Homemade meals can be quick, and for the slightly more time consuming meals, set aside an hour or two on the weekend and batch cook for the week - voila you have your own ready meals.
Take a look at this blog’s collection of 25 delicious and healthy recipes to help you started!
Keeping active seems simple but when put into practice is actually quite hard to do, especially if you work long or unusual hours. However, there are a few things that can help you get your needed ‘workout’ without it seeming an impossible task.
Wear a pedometer
This can help you monitor how much walking you’ve done in a day and if you are little bit under your goal, you know to try and fit a tad more in! This is a great option for those who walk quite a bit but don’t have enough time to go to the gym- it is also worth trying to take the stairs whenever you can to add to your step count. A good minimum to go by is around 10,000 steps (a half an hour walk) per day.
If you find that you just don’t have time for exercise or cannot afford a gym, an easy daily routine can help you fit in some muscle building and calorie burning without delaying your day. A quick sequence of squats, push ups, lunges and ‘the plank’ will work both upper and lower body and you can do as many or as little as you want depending on your time constraints. If you keep up on doing them every day, you will quickly notice a difference in muscle and overall health (mental and physical).
These are an underrated exercise tool that many people would benefit from. Hitting the gym for half an hour on a treadmill can be utterly off-putting, especially after a long day of work. However, going to a couple of gym classes you enjoy, whether it is the rhythmic dance of Step or the high energy of pump class, can transform the way you approach exercise, especially as you’re not doing it alone! The classes are also good for those who need a structure as they tend to run at set times and days, removing the ‘I’ll go tomorrow’ mentality.
Use a buddy system
Keeping active can be much more achievable if you have someone to go with as well as set goals with, don’t under-estimate the value of peer encouragement!
Exercise videos/console fitness games: If the gym is too expensive- use what is available to you. Exercise videos are great- no one can see you pink and puffy and they still provide a workout as good as hitting the gym. The same principle applies for console games- if you have a Wii or Xbox- invest in a fitness game- they offer a great workout and you can choose from a range of activities to keep you fit so you won’t get to bored easily.
Getting some fresh air is often an underestimated feel good activity. Going for a brisk fifteen minute jaunt can make the biggest difference, especially if you are cooped up all day so exert some energy and enjoy a little time with nature.
Find a Release
Stress is a big factor against living a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to cut out any unnecessary stresses because they not only contribute to increasing grey hairs but to your exhaustion levels, moods, and even your digestion. We know cutting out stress from your life isn’t as easy as saying ‘I’m not going to be stressed’, but you can however, find a release from that stress so that the frown lines are no more!
Learn a new skill – put all that stress energy into something productive - learn a new skill or start a new project. You will feel great once you’ve accomplished the end goal and you can release your anxious energy into the activity and forget all about what you were stressed about in the first place.
Make time for you – whether you enjoy a half hour relaxing bath, curling up with a new book or film, enjoy sometime that is just yours, preferably something away from the digital world – no emails, calls, texts, Facebook etc. It is surprising how relaxing being disconnected from the world can be, even if only for a half hour or so.
Write it down on Paper! – Release your stress onto paper and write lists of all the things you have to do and remember. This takes away the worry of forgetting something you have to do and therefore adding to your stress. With so many apps that provide many ways to write lists, organise them, cross off tasks and sync across all your devices and computers so you are never without it, list writing is easier than ever. We recommend Evernote, which can be installed on your computer and syncs with the app on your device.
Sleep is incredibly important and is very much a necessity rather than a luxury, which many of us forget. Here are a couple tips to help you get the sleep you need.
Disconnect– Turn of the digital an hour before bed. Using digital devices and watching Tv before bed can actually hinder your ability to fall asleep. Try turning everything off and do some reading or writing before you sleep, both of which can quickly bring on drowsiness!
Commit to at least 7 hours- simple but if you set this goal of 7 hours sleep, it’ll be easier to actualise!
Can’t sleep? Plenty of people struggle to sleep, and then there is the dreaded clock check until the early hours furthering your stress as you continue to count sheep for an unsuccessful slumber. A tip for this one is to get up, try sitting somewhere else in the house for 15 minutes or so, and then get back into bed. This helps renew your drowsiness and prevents you getting stressed out in the bed as sleep continues to allude you. Getting up may be the last thing you want to do, but it does help…
Quite an obvious one but alcohol just isn’t all that good for you! So for a healthier you, cutting way down on how many times a week you have a glass of wine or two will massively help your mind and body feel better!