Here in Adelaide, it’s starting to feel like spring. There are clean new shoots on the trees, the sun is shining, and there are joggers everywhere. As those who have hibernated on the couch all winter start to panic about short-shorts and bikinis, many people are looking to change their lives and create some new healthy habits.The mistake many people make, though, is trying to change it all at once and to become fitness saints, never partaking of a “forbidden” food or missing a scheduled work-out.
The key to lasting change is to make small changes, to take certain actions consistently until they become habits. It takes effort to change your whole life overnight. Habits, on the other hand, are easy to maintain. Do you have to think about brushing your teeth in the morning, or driving to work?
So here are some suggestions I have for some small changes you can make that will make it all seem easier.
Drink More Water
You hear this all the time, and for good reason. It’s one of the easiest thing to do, will stop you from eating out of thirst rather than hunger, and is the perfect substitute for sugary drinks with no nutritional value. Soda or tonic water with a spritz of citrus can help to wean you off the flavour and sensation of soft-drinks.
Surround Yourself With Good Foods
When it comes to food, we are really all quite lazy, especially when we’re hungry. Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods, and pack your meals and snacks in advance when you’re out, so there will always be something nourishing within reach when you’re hungry. Don’t keep treat foods such as chocolate or ice-cream at home. If you’re really craving them, go out and enjoy some, but keeping them in the fridge will mean that you’ll eat them out of a sense of convenience rather than enjoyment.
Get To Sleep Early
No matter how motivated you are, no one feels like exercising on only four hours’ sleep. Not only that, but studies have shown that appetite increases and the body is less prone to burning fat when it hasn’t had adequate sleep.
Work Out In The Morning
Wait a minute… this doesn’t sound like an easy change! Working out in the morning can be a great way to make sure that your exercise gets done before anyone else puts demands on your time. Evenings and lunch-breaks are all-too-easily hijacked by bosses, clients, partners, family and friends. Get your work-out done early, and you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment for the rest of the day, and will be free to spend your evenings on other activities you enjoy.
Make Incidental Exercise Part Of Your Day
Incidental exercise is any kind of calorie-burning activity which isn’t part of a structured work-out, but rather part of your daily activity. Parking the car further away from work, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and carrying all of those groceries into the house by yourself are all examples of ways in which you can burn more calories in your daily routine.
Learn To Love Your Coffee And Tea… Without The Sugar
When you add sugar to your hot drinks, you’re adding extra calories and no nutritional value. That is just more glucose for your body to deal with and more refined carbohydrate for your body to get through before you can start burning fat. If you can’t bear the thought of your favourite caffeinated beverage without some added sweetness, at least reduce the amount of sugar you’re adding, and consider using a good-quality manuka honey instead, which has anti-bacterial properties.
These are just some of my ideas. What small changes have you made which have gone on to become healthy habits?