Today’s 30 day life challenge involves your health. Before you go running and screaming and pulling your hair out, I promised these challenges would be easy. Basically start where you are to make a few small changes, and over time, they will grow into large changes in your health.
Eating Habits: The way you eat can greatly affect your health. When most people decide they need to lose weight, they do it to have a better self-image. But self-image isn’t the best reason to change your eating habits. It won’t make you like yourself any better. If you change the way you eat to improve your health, you will look better. But the most important change will be that you look better.
Eating healthy begins with life style changes that you can manage and maintain. Diets or drastic changes may work in the short term, but you might not be able to keep them up. So my challenge is to start where you are and make one small change. After you’ve maintained that change, add another. You won’t become a supermodel overnight, but you’ll make lasting changes that affect your health and your life. Here are a few places you can start.
Eat smaller portions. Restaurants and advertisements have increased portions over the years until the average person consumes three times the amount of food that was a normal portion in the 1940s. No wonder so many of us have a weight problem. You may have to gradually decrease your portions until your body gets used to it. This is one of the easiest changes you can make that will have long term health benefits.
Use natural products. The less processed foods you eat and the more you eat natural foods, the healthier you will be. That means sugar instead of sweetener and butter instead of margarine unless you have health restrictions. It also means making mashed potatoes instead of using instant, and cooking meat instead of warming up frozen processed meats. You might even want to make your own bread and desserts. The more natural the food is the better it is for you.
Most people use processed foods because of convenience. If this is the reason you don’t go natural, I have a suggestion. On your day off, cook large portions of food and separate it into meal size containers. Then on busy days, you can have your own TV dinners made with natural ingredients.
Plan your snacks. There’s nothing wrong with snacks, even unhealthy ones, as long as you use moderation. In the Leave it Beaver era, people enjoyed desserts that were made naturally ahead of time and eaten together after meal time, yet they didn’t get fat. That’s because they planned their snacks. The best way to make sure snacking doesn’t become unhealthy is to plan your snacks with portions ahead of time. That way, you won’t keep eating snacks without realizing it.
Gradually cut down on sugar and salt. As we get used to the amount of sugar and salt we use, we get to the point where we can’t taste it and need more. If your gradually cut you sugar and salt intake, foods will taste a little bland at first, but after a while, you’ll marvel at how much salt and sugar you used to use to get a desired taste that a pinch will provide now.
Exercise: If you’re not exercising now, don’t go out and join a gym or get expensive exercise equipment. Start where you are. Here are a few things you can do to start exercising.
Take a 15 minute walk in the morning before you shower. It may mean getting up 15 minutes earlier, but you’ll have more energy throughout the day.
Get out of your chair. If you sit for long periods of time at a computer, set and alarm and get up every hour to stretch and walk around a few minutes.
Take a dance or sports class. You’ll enjoy learning something new, and it will help you exercise more.
Use the stairs. If you need to go up a flight or two of stairs, use the staircase instead of the elevator. If you have stairs in your home, every time you need to use them, climb up them twice instead of once.
Park Farther Away. Whenever you go to a store, park farther away. Not only will you exercise more, people won’t beat their car doors into yours.
When the weather gets better, consider hiking or bicycling in nearby parks at least once a week.