7 Strategies to Sustain a Healthy Lifestyle
What simple practices can support and sustain a healthy lifestyle? Here are my top seven tips:
Complete proteins (meat, poultry, pork, fish, cheese, eggs), natural fats (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts), low-starch vegetables (leafy greens especially!) and low sugar / high fiber fruits (berries for the win). Ensure that these real, whole foods comprise the bulk of your meals and snacks. Eat and enjoy these foods whenever you’re hungry.
Processed foods, especially sugars and artificial sweeteners, sweet beverages (even 100% juice) and white carbohydrates. Minimize grains, starchy vegetables and sugary fruits like banana, mango and pineapple.
Once or twice a week, allow yourself a splurge meal (note: a safe splurge is a single meal, not an entire day). Aim for a frequency that reminds you there’s no need to gorge yourself on a special treat while remembering the treat is an exception to your daily practice of healthy eating. Pro tip: schedule one weekly splurge meal ahead of time (a date night, a brunch or family celebration…), and allow up to one spontaneous splurge meal per week (this can be a “whoops” or a fun indulgence, like a last minute dinner invitation).
No matter what you are eating, no matter how healthy or nutritious it is, STOP WHEN YOU ARE 80% FULL. Satiety takes time. Eat slowly. Savor the multi-sensory pleasures of your meal. Pause frequently to appreciate the flavors, textures, aromas. Enjoy the social experience of sharing a meal with family or friends. Notice when you are satisfied, and then stop eating. This means stopping BEFORE you feel stuffed. As a rough estimate, stop eating when you feel about 80% full. Choosing to listen to and respect the body’s signal of satisfaction is an act of self-respect and self-love. Eating beyond that point is miserable. Yes, enjoy special foods. Yes, enjoy feasts with your family. But stop short of stuffing yourself.
Studies consistently show that strength training spares muscle during weight loss, improves metabolism, and promotes overall fitness and healthy body composition. Aim for a brief (less than 30 minutes) yet intense (shaky, weak muscles at the end of each exercise) resistance workout 1-2x/week. Click here for one of our many express Dia strength workouts. Commit to performing a quick and challenging strength workout 1-2 weekly. That amounts to less than 1 hour total per week. This is attainable. All other activity (including cardio) is a bonus.
I know. You’re a mom. You probably wish you could sleep more. And I don’t desire to heap guilt on your head for not sleeping enough… But nevertheless I must nod to the vital role adequate sleep plays in health and well-being. Choose sleep over social media, television, and other diversions. Turn off the screens. Silence your phone. Take a hot shower or bath. Listen to relaxing music, breathe slowly and deeply, and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Many things that feel urgent can wait. Sleep helps us cope better with every challenge as it supports overall health, metabolic function hormonal balance and the immune system. When you’re exhausted, choose sleep over a workout.
Slide into your favorite pair of jeans
Either weekly or monthly, slip into your favorite pair of jeans fresh out of the dryer. Note the fit. Is it similar to the last time you tried them on? Can you detect a clear and consistent movement in one direction or another? Use an objective measure like this to signal whether you are staying on track with your goals or getting a little carried away with the flexibility inherent in a long-term healthy lifestyle. Use this check-in as an honest and objective (yet not obsessive, as scale monitoring tends to become…) self-reflection of the efficacy of your efforts. Adjust accordingly if you notice a trend away from your healthiest self.
I realize these simple strategies are easier said than done. Simple does not mean easy. But the good news is that each practical step listed above is attainable. Step into the healthy lifestyle that’s waiting for you. #yesyoucan