It is a common belief that the one good thing we can do for our health each day is go to the gym but while exercise is important, what we do outside the gym is even more important. 80% of the way you feel & look is down to what you eat & other healthy habits such as hydration and sleep.
Taking the time to exercise is great but it will not make up for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle so here are a few tips you can start applying now to boost your health & wellbeing even if you don´t have time for the gym!
· Eat more vegetables. You may have heard this a million times but this advice ain´t going out of fashion. Vegetables are where you'll find all your vitamins & nutrients in the form your body was designed to digest them. Fill 2/3 of your plate with veg at each meal. Choose vegetables that have a lot of color and try aim for at least 2-3 different colors on your plate each time!
· Eat healthy fats. some people still believe that eating fat will make them fat but this is not the case. Eating a healthy fat at every meal will not make you fat. It will help oil your pipes ;) We're talking nuts, avocados, seeds, fatty fish as well as coconut, sunflower & olive oil for example. Not only can these fats help lower bad cholesterol but they also help with vitamin absorption so always couple your intake of vegetables with some sort of healthy fat.
· Cut out processed foods, completely. If it comes from a plant eat it, if it was made in a plant, don't. It doesn't matter how shiny the wrapping is and how many health claims it has on it, most processed foods are filled with trans fats & dodgy ingredients. Eating whole natural foods as they were intended by nature will nearly always be a better option than eating something coming out of a factory.
· Take a movement break instead of a snack break. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk working on your business it´s normal to feel like you need a valid excuse to get off your butt and take a break. Most of us use “hunger” and snacking as an excuse but a lot of the time all we need is to get away from the damn screen! So next time you feel like you need a break, do 20 squats, jumps, pushups or situps or walk up & down a few flights of stairs a couple of times. Keep a record of how many movements you do in a day and challenge yourself (and maybe your coworkers? ;). Integrating small bursts of movement into your day will do wonders for your energy levels and your mood. Doing them outside is even better!
· Snack healthy. If you do resort to snacking instead of moving, try keep it clean. A handful of nuts and some berries are a great snack for example. Berries are high in antioxidants and low in sugar compared to other fruits. By coupling them with a source of healthy fat it helps with nutrient & vitamin absorption and also prevents a peak in blood sugar levels. Another option would be an apple with almond butter or tahini for example. Dark chocolate (70% cacao minimum) coupled with nuts or fruit is a healthy snack in my book too :)
· Hydrate! Nothing beats plain old water! Depending on your weight, the level of humidity of where you live and your activity level, drink at least 1,5 - 2,5 liters a day! Coffee, Tea & soft drinks do not count!
· Sleep! I know most people are short on time but if you want to do one thing that will have a positive effect on your energy levels, your concentration, your metabolism and your weight, make it sleep. Sleep is one of the most underrated things ever! If you can't do it every night then try get at least 2 nights a week when you go to bed early and aim for 8 hours of sleep minimum!
If you feel overwhelmed by doing all these at once, I suggest you start by doing one the first week and just keep adding one more each week! Small steps make a big difference and in 8 weeks you will have created yourself a whole new healthier lifestyle!