“Weight- loss” and “crash diets” are the most searched keywords online. It is good to know that people are aware of the benefits of having a fit body. Especially for the moms who undergo such major body transformation after having their babies. But in this fast-paced world, we cannot resist our urge to take short-cuts for a quick belly fat loss. We don’t even fail to try magical herbs and promising pills or even get ready to go under the knife. These things may give you some amazing results only for a short time but a long-lasting detrimental effect. I understand that we all want to be our fittest selves, but with so much advice floating around, it can be hard to decide on what actually works. Surprisingly, it boils down to just handful of daily routine changes in your lifestyle. These 10 easy go-to healthy strategies not only help you reach most ambitious fitness goals but also make a healthy lifestyle for your entire family.
- Make water your best friend
Don’t be ashamed of carrying a water bottle (best buddy) wherever you go. It is actually helpful in keeping a track of your daily water intake. Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon of water daily. There should be no scope of confusing it with any other drink. Avoid juices, brownie shakes, and sodas–all have loads of sugar and calories. If you happen to be going for a girl’s date, order for a black coffee instead of red bull, vodka martini instead of cosmopolitan and a fresh lime instead of mojito.
- Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach
Sounds silly! No! it is not. Researchers say that you tend to buy less of unhealthy foods when you shop on a full stomach. Avoid visiting the aisles of confectioneries and breads, no human being can resist the temptation. If you won’t buy it, you won’t stock it. And if you don’t stock it, you don’t eat it. Simple as always.
- Control your late-night sugar cravings
This is something that challenges me the most. At night, when I am busy browsing the social media accounts, all I get to see are the FOOD PICS. I switch on TV to get a distraction, only to find late night repeats of MASTER CHEF. And it happens only in night when I get the maximum feed posts of extravagant dinners and sumptuous desserts. Does this happen to you too? I rush to my kitchen only to find 70% cocoa dark chocolate instead of milk chocolates, granola bars instead of candy bars and oatmeal-berries cookies instead of sugar cookies. (LOOK! I was really great at following tip no. 2).
- No bread, no sugar
I know it’s not easy but let us give it a try. I don’t believe in shutting down on things immediately. It has to be a slow and steady process. Cutting down on portion size is the first step. If you are having 4 white breads a day, reduce to 2, then to 1 and then to 1 brown bread daily. It also involves a lot of self-control. Crushing down all your cravings all the time can result into an outburst of going back to your previous habits. So, please take it slow, one thing at a time. Trim down on the sugar intake for the first month (again! Don’t shut it down totally) and then gradually shift to your breads intake.
- Play with your kids on weekends
No! It is not just a parenting tip, but a fitness tip. Have you tried playing outdoor running games with your kids? Trust me, it’s exhausting when I do that with my 2.5-year-old. Indulge yourself in your kids’ favourite sport during weekends. It will not only help you understand your kids’ strengths and capabilities but also let you form a strong bond with them. They will feel happy that you are paying attention to their likes and dislikes.
- Ditch lift and take the stairs
My fitness class is on the third floor and I used to proudly take the elevator. I used to think that just 3 floors don’t make a lot of difference, instead I was earning 5 more minutes for my treadmill. But, to my surprise, stair climbing is officially classed as a ‘vigorous exercise’ and burns more calories per minute than jogging. Also, for buildings with five floors or less, it’s nearly always quicker to take the stairs. Studies show that office workers save up to 15 minutes a day by not taking lifts. This doesn’t mean that you climb 10 flights of stairs even if you are getting late for a meeting. I am sure that you don’t want to scare everyone away with your heavy panting zombie look at the board room.
- Join a fitness program
There is a whole ocean of programs available these days. You can join a gym, dance class, aerobics, Zumba, Pilates, kick-boxing, tennis, swimming or any other sport. There are special classes to train you for marathons also. One way to get your commitment is by paying in advance for the entire year. But, if you have a short span of interest for a particular activity (like in my case!), then you can opt for a particular form for few months. Go for a salsa class with your partner, and then a tap dance with your friends. If you are looking for a holistic program, join a yoga class. There are endless options to choose from. But promise yourself to be indulged in at least ONE form of exercise at a given point of time. If nothing is working out, you can always opt for the most trusted exercise ever – walking. Brisk walking for 20 mins for only 5 days a week is proved to be highly effective. I can write an entire post on the benefits of walking.
- Go Organic
What is the best place to shop your fruits and vegetables? Well! ask your children. It, definitely, has to be a local farm-market. It is not only the best way to get fresh and locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables but a great way to introduce the farmer’s lifestyle and efforts they put into growing food. Children learn to respect their work and eventually understand the importance of farm products. Limit processed cans and ready to microwave foods. They are loaded with artificial flavors and food preserving chemicals. Cutting out processed foods including sugar, and eating as many foods in their natural form, is probably one of single best changes we can make for a long-term health.
- Plating with care
Let’s say that you fail in all the above points. You shopped on a dehydrated empty stomach to buy sugary treats only to relish them as a mid-night snack, missed your morning fitness class, ordered cola, burger and fries for the lunch and microwaved ready-to-cook food for dinner. There is still one thing left that is really important. The Art of Plating! Yes! You must learn how to plate your food. While doing that, choose the right foods in the right portions and finish that first before taking second helping. Does your rice take up more than half your plate? Think about cutting your serving more than half. Did you forget to add your veggies, well! do that now. Your aim should be filling half of your plate with vegetables and fruits and remaining half with protein and whole grains (one-quarter of each). So, at the end, it becomes harder to fit in those empty calorie foods.
- Cheat day are okay days
Are you feeling bad about that extra serving of pudding at your friend’s birthday party? Don’t beat yourself up! It takes a lot of calories to gain body fat. So really, a cheat day once a week doesn’t usually result in any significant weight gain. In fact, it will satiate all your cravings compiled over the entire week. The important thing is what you do the next day and the day after that. Just don’t stay off-track for a long time and head back to your daily small challenges.
Don’t make all the changes overnight and expect a miracle. Making slow and steady changes one at a time help you in a long-go. This will also impart valuable lessons of self-control and will-power. Going back to parenting, prioritizing your fitness goals teaches your kids how to lead an active lifestyle. When your kids see you exercising or plating your food properly, or ordering healthy food in a restaurant, they understand that this is how it should be—and it is what they should be aspiring to do in their own lives, as well.