Deciding to improve your health can be a scary minefield of diets, fitness fads, gadgets and muscle bound gods telling you the best way to “shred fat fast”. It can be an information overload climaxing in a guilt filled binge and eventually leading us right back where we started. So, I’ve created 10 simple steps to get you started on your journey. Nothing scary, nothing difficult, just easy tips to get you going.
1.Water Water Water– we’ve heard it a million times before but water is your very best friend! Ditch the sugary soft drinks for 2-3L of water a day and I promise you you’re body will thank you for it. I like to get people to carry a bottle with them, ideally BPA free and at least 1L. That way you’ll know exactly how much you’re getting through. I myself use a 2.2L bottle from The Big Bottle Co. They come in lots of different funky colours and start at €15. I’ve had mine about a year and it’s still going strong. If it’s too boring to handle, try adding some lemon, strawberries or mint to the party to shake it up a bit. I promise that soon you’ll be guzzling with gusto.
2.Just Move– it really is that simple. We can all benefit from adding more movement into our daily routine, especially if you’re starting from scratch. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Add in some extra daily movement like taking the stairs, getting off the bus a stop sooner, parking the car a little further away, spend more time standing during the work day, dig out the bike from the back of the garage and commit to a weekend jaunt….you get the idea, just try and incorporate as much movement into your day as possible. I think we often assume that in order to make a difference we have to do something monumental, but standing for 4 hours throughout your day can burn 200-280 calories more than sitting. Do this every day and that’s nearly 2lbs of fat loss a month. It all adds up so be mindful of your movement and try increase it a little every day.
3.Never Underestimate the Power of a Walk- It absolutely blows my mind how underrated the humble walk is when discussing exercise. There are SO many benefits to walking, both mental and physical. A walk at a good pace, where you’re out of breath but still able to have the chats, can burn between 200-300 calories over 45 minutes. Even more importantly, they’re fantastic for your joints, bone density and muscle tone. Not to mention how wonderful a walk can be to clear your head, reduce stress and help your brain process the day. So grab your 4 legged pal, a good podcast/audiobook and hit the pavement. Start with 3 30-60 minute walks per week and aim to build up from there. You won’t know yourself in a few weeks time.
4.Set Some Goals- Take 30 minutes to sit down with a piece of paper and set some real achievable goals. You can get super fancy here and set short-term and long-term goals, personal, fitness and career goals or you can simply write down 3 things you’d like to achieve by the end of the week. Keep it simple, we don’t need to be running a marathon by the end of the month or breaking any records but aiming to get in our 3L of water or putting in an extra walk will all add up to get us where we want to be. Writing things down lets us see things clearly and helps us to visualise exactly where we want to go. So stick it on a piece of paper and make sure it’s somewhere you can see it a few times a day. In the beginning, it’s vital that we have a constant reminder of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Most importantly, when you smash your goal, reward yourself! It’s important to celebrate our achievements, no matter how small they may seem. This can be with a new outfit, a meal in your favourite restaurant, a new book, a holiday….whatever, anything that you love and will help keep you motivated. Set your goals, work towards them, reward, reset and go again.
5.Eat all the Colours of the Rainbow- Foods rich in natural colours mean anti-bodies and micro-nutrients that are going to help your digestion, energy levels, skin, immune function…the list is endless. When it comes to your colourful fruits and veggies, stock pile them in every meal! The more whole unprocessed foods you can get on your plate, the better. If you struggle with getting enough then adding in a daily juice can be a great way of getting in extra veggies, you can check out my favourite recipes here. You can also hide them in pasta sauces and soups. Some of my favourites include spinach, kale, beetroot, kiwis, pineapple, sweet potato and blueberries but get creative and know that you can’t over-do it when it comes to your micro-nutrients.
6.Plan Your Meals and Make Time for Your Favourite Treats- Yep, ya heard me! Factor in your favourite treats. I never want you to feel restricted or hard done by. It may feel like the only way forward is to cut out all “bad” foods and never so much as look at another biscuit again, but this wont ever lead to long-term success. Plan out your food every week, know what you’re going to have for each meal and then factor in your little treat. I’m not saying cram yourself with every chocolate bar you see, but if you know you’re getting in all the good nutritious foods then a small treat won’t destroy your progress and might just save your sanity. Check out this lovely lady for some great low calorie treat options.
7.Up the Sleep- Most people have stopped getting enough sleep and even worse, it’s become acceptable to be permanently exhausted. Although it varies from person to person, aim for 8 solid hours of sleep per night. It’s during this time that our bodies regenerate and restore, re-balance hormones and give our muscles and digestive system a much needed break. A good night’ sleep has even been proven to aid in weight loss, lower stress and reduce the risk of developing many diseases such as dementia. I know it’s easier said than done so if you struggle to get in enough sleep try these tips:
- cut out technology 1-2 hours before bed. The blue-light from our phones, laptops and tablets has been shown to disrupt sleep cycles and engage the brain, making the wind down process impossible.
- Keep the temperature in your room low.
- Keep bed for sleeping, it’s not a dining table, your office or a cinema.
- Up the activity levels, at least 30 minutes/day.
- Try get into the same routine of waking and going to bed at roughly the same time each day.
- Read before bed. A study conducted by the University of Surrey, found that reading before bed reduces stress by up to 68%. Leading to a better night’s sleep and a more positive start to your day.
8.Lower the Stress Levels- I know this is easy to write from behind a computer screen but the dangers of chronic stress are terrifying and endless. We’re not designed to be in a permanent state of stress, our bodies can’t handle the excessive levels of cortisol produced during these periods. Not only will you be irritable, anxious and run down, but it’s also shown to increase weight gain, bone thinning and suppress the immune system. Life is simply too short. If you can’t change whatever situation is causing all the yucky stress feelings then try adding in a meditation practice, mindful breathing, get out in the fresh air, increase activity, spend more time doing what you love. Whatever it is, make sure you have an escape and a way of processing and dealing so that you’re not living in the stress bubble. There are some really lovely and easy breathing practices out there that are super simple and effective. Try these to get started
9. Start a Gratitude Practice- I know this has become a very hip and trendy thing in the last few years but hear me out. Actively practicing gratitude is a fantastic way to switch your mindset from negative and lacking to positive and abundant. It only needs to take a couple of minutes and can range from writing in a journal to just taking a minute to run through a mental list. I like to start my morning by writing down 5 things I’m grateful for. Some days these are big and important while other days I’m just grateful for a cup of tea or the fact that it’s not raining. It doesn’t need to be life-changing, but I promise that by just acknowledging the good things you’ll start your day on the right foot and have a powerful impact on your mindset for the rest of day.
10. Be Kind To Yourself- This journey doesn’t have to be 100% perfect 100% of the time. It’s likely to be messy and hard at times but all you need is progress. The little steps turn into the larger changes, so be kind to yourself and celebrate every milestone and step in the right direction along the way. If you do have a bad day or “fall off the wagon”, acknowledge it and move on. Aim to be better than yesterday and you’re half way there.
Deciding to get healthy and better yourself is a scary and difficult process. But just remember that it’s always worth it and if it was easy then everyone would do it! Thanks for reading, if you’ve any questions or comments I’d love to hear from you.