Five Habits for a Healthier You
I feel I must begin this post with a disclaimer. I have been blessed genetically with parents who are naturally thin. In addition to being thin, they have been instrumental at modeling some healthy habits that have served me well as both a child and as an adult. As a result, my lifestyle is something that has permeated my life since I can remember. It’s important to remember that if you have not been as blessed as I, it will take both time and effort to train your mind and body to become accustomed to some of the tricks I am going to give you. It’s also worthwhile to know that I eat dessert, and not just once in a while. I indulge every day, so if you’re looking for tricks that can benefit you without giving up all the foods you love, you will appreciate these five tricks that I've adopted.
Habit 1: Have an eating plan. It seems ridiculous to say, but having an eating plan ensures that you eat what you want when you want. If you aren’t prepared, you are much more inclined to choose easy options. Stopping at a gas station or fast food restaurant because you don’t have a plan is a common occurrence for many parents on the go. For me, I pack food from home to eat while I’m at work. My usual breakfast consists of an apple or orange. For lunch my favorite option when I am at school is a bagel with peanut butter. On weekends I splurge and have cereal..the kid kind... or oatmeal with brown sugar for lunch. When I return home from work, I’ll eat some carrot sticks. My biggest meal of the day is dinner. It varies from day to day, but my family prefers meat, potatoes, and a veggie. And although that’s the case, we generally have pizza once a week and when the kids are especially engaged in activities, we stop at fast food when necessary. The key is, however, to have a plan. Eat at specified times. Like I mentioned in my workout tips column, our bodies become accustomed to established routines. Daily habits will make your eating goals more of a reality. Personally, I eat breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at 12:30 p.m., and dinner at 5:30 p.m. I then have dessert once my kiddos are in bed. Chocolate covered peanuts are my favorite, but I’m not too picky when it comes to sweets.
Habit 2: Eat when you are hungry. This seems obvious, but if you’re not hungry, don’t eat. Listen to the voice inside your stomach! I know that it’s tempting to eat when you see something delicious, even when you are full, but that just doesn’t make sense. If someone offers me food when I have already eaten, I will often ask if I can take a sample home with me. That way I can eat it at my leisure, thus not stuffing myself. We’ve all had that feeling of overindulgence, but try to restrain yourself by saving it for later. Self control here is key, and the more you practice it, the easier it becomes. Don’t be afraid to say, “no” to food either. I realize it can be hard to turn down food at an event, but if you have already eaten or you just don’t want any, saying “no thanks” is acceptable. And don’t skip eating either. Not eating has just as many negative consequences. Skipping meals can affect your metabolism, not to mention when you go long periods of time without eating, you often end up binge eating once you finally do eat. Again, plan menus and mealtimes to avoid this.
Habit 3: Be picky. This one comes easily to me since I am very choosy when it comes to what I eat. This has served me well in controlling my intake of food. If I bite into something and I don’t like it, I don’t finish it. I know what you’re thinking...it’s impolite and wasteful at times not to eat what you are given. But here’s the deal, why would you waste calories eating something you don’t like? To avoid being wasteful, I also only take a little of dishes that I am unsure about. This allows me to have a taste test before I get a larger helping of food. And remember that rule about cleaning everything off of your plate? While I don’t like to waste, it’s also not okay to overfill your stomach either. Instead, make a plate of leftovers for another time or day. Don’t continue to listen to the outdated rule that you can’t leave the table until you’ve eaten all of your food.
Habit 4: Eat smaller portions. Like many aspects of our lives, too much of anything can have negative consequences. If I sit down in the evening with a bag full of chocolate covered peanuts, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to look down about ten minutes later only to realize I’ve eaten the entire contents of the bag. Yeah...it’s happened before. To avoid this, put what you plan to eat in a small bowl and only eat that amount. When you eat smaller portions more often, your metabolism is better and you don’t feel as hungry. No one likes that bloated feeling of eating too much at one sitting anyway, so make grab just a handful of what you plan to eat so the temptation isn’t there. And if you decide to go back for more, at least you’ll have to use some additional energy getting up to get it!
Habit 5: Drink water. When I was younger, I drank Mountain Dew like it was going out of style, but I started getting side cramps when I was jogging. My dad, a physical education teacher and coach, persuaded me into giving up pop altogether. To say I was reluctant is an understatement, but I never really missed it once I ditched it. It surprises some people to know that the only beverages I consume are water and white and chocolate milk. These choices help me stay hydrated. And you know that feeling of hunger we often get between meals? It’s often thirst you’re unknowingly feeling. So when your belly is feeling empty but it isn’t time to eat, try a nice glass of cold water instead. Water is so important to good health, so even if it’s not your favorite, drink it. It’s an acquired taste...I know from experience.
Like I’ve said before, you need to make plans that fit your life. Set plans and make goals that work for your lifestyle. And remember, your body needs to be trained for at least 21 days to become accustomed to its new routine. That means you’ll need three solid weeks of following your plan to make it a habit that will result in your healthy lifestyle. Add a workout routine into your life as well and you’ll be pleased with the results you can accomplish. And remember, there is always room for dessert if you make other healthy choices during the day. Please follow me @fitmodelmom and @fmm_thewolf and share your progress with me. I want to share in your successes! We are stronger when we work together.