No doubt, 2020 has been a challenging year to say the least. But, with that being said, there are many who continue to choose to make positive changes to staying healthy.
Healthy can mean different things to folks (this can vary with individuals with certain health conditions who need to follow specific nutritional guidelines) But, generally speaking, each individual has to find a way, in which a healthy lifestyle can be sustainable and something they can live with for life.
When I think of my own personal journey, healthy habits was on my "to do" list and it didn't start in January but in June of 2019, which is my birth month.
My point is, your timing does not have to wait until the new year to make resolutions. If it is ,so be it. If it falls on another month of the year other than January that is fine too!
One thing I want to emphasize, is there is plenty of advice on how to get healthy and the vast amount of information online, or offline can make your head swoon.
I've received advice from dieticians, nutritionists and even personal trainers with specific diets with all varying points of view when it comes to nutrition. I've learned a lot from these experiences.
But, I have used my own critical thinking to choosing foods that works the best for me and I hope you can do the same. It really can be overwhelming, but don't let that stop you from taking action to get started.
So when it comes to you wanting to achieve healthy habits you can roll with for the long term, don't overwhelm yourself. You want to start with the mindset of "how" you are going to achieve them. Below is what I did to achieve mine.
I started with only 3 healthy habits and worked from there to create more healthy habits as time went on. My top three in the beginning were and still are what I do presently, which are the following:
1. Exercise 4-5 times per week consistently.
2. Get enough sleep (7-9 hours per night)
3. Eat nutritious food and watch portions. 80/20 rule. (This WAS (past tense) the most challenging, but is the most important.)
Now for some people, they may look at my list as too simplistic, but simplicity does work.
So the "how to achieve these healthy habits consistently, really is just a basic blueprint on the way to achieve them.
Let's start with my first healthy habit....
1. EXERCISE-4-5 times per week
The way I got to my" how" is that I started with writing down and making a mental note of the "days" of the the week that I was going to exercise and the "time" I was going to do it. For me, not too long ago, it was at 4:00 am before getting ready to hit the road for my commute into work.
Trust me, when I wrote it down it seemed crazy, but I found out I had plenty of company who thought like me (this includes folks at my local gym) who wanted to have this important healthy habit out of the way before they started their day so it gets done with no other demanding things to get in your way as the day progresses.
2. Get Enough Sleep-7-9 hours every night
To make sure I get my sleep every night, I try to stick to a scheduled time to go to sleep to ensure I get the rest that I need. Yes, the early bird catches the worm. Sleep time for me was between 8:00 pm and no later than 9:00 PM especially for workout days.
3. Eat nutritious food and watch portions. 80/20 Rule
This one is crucial, for the long term success. There is a popular saying about "You can't outrun a bad diet" As harsh as it sounds, its mostly true. Exercise does play a crucial role to burning calories through cardio and sculpting your body with strength training whether using your own body weight or with the assistance of exercise equipment. But, if you can't turn it around by eating healthy and watching your portions, your results will be minimal.
By getting your nutrition on point, besides the physical aspect of you looking better, you'll notice your energy levels are higher, you'll get better sleep, hunger will be minimal and other positive things when your body is nourished the right way.
My "how" to eating nutritious food and watching portions became from planning simple meals especially if I got busy with things. My breakfast most mornings were and still are a simple protein shake enriched with hemp, chia or flax seeds. Lunches continue with salads with lean protein and healthy carbs of my choice and dinner with more lean protein, veggies and healthy carbs.
When time allows, I will switch things up with certain dishes which have a nice balance of nutrients from ALL food groups. Also lots of water!
I also have the thought process of the 80/20 rule which means I eat nutritiously most days of the week. The 20 percent is for when I want a slightly indulgent restaurant meal that I enjoy with no guilt.
I find that when I have this mindset, it allows this healthy lifestyle to be sustainable, for ME. It can be the same for you or different.
As I mentioned there is a vast amount of information on how to get healthier with habits, but I have one particular book as one of my references that may be healthful to you by Cooking Light, called "The Food Lovers Healthy Habits Cookbook" You can find it here:
Food Lovers Healthy Habits Cookbook
This cookbook has 150 recipes but also gives great tips on how to create healthy habits and can get you started where it will get you to be more creative in the kitchen. Basically if gives you the tools so you don't easily throw in the towel. Its a nice resource to give you ideas on how to develop healthy habits which also includes a 6 week get started plan.
It can be hard to erase habits that you may have been accustomed to, but everything really starts with a mindset and making the crucial decision to take steps that move you forward to achieving a lifestyle of wellness. I'll leave you with this image which I think should get you to think of your "why?"
Here's to healthy habits and to be your best YOU, in 2021!
Eat Good! Feel Good! Look Good!
Vanessa LaBranche/Chef Instructor-Culinary Educator