Fitness Facts: 8 ways to get healthier today
By Liz Cook
Registered Dietitian, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
In honor of National Nutrition Month our weekly Fitness Facts will be focused on nutrition for the entire month of March. Additionally, we are hosting a healthy eating trivia contest for all GCU Today readers throughout the month.
Each week’s Fitness Facts will contain a trivia question. To enter, email your answer to [email protected] by the end of the day each Friday to be entered to win a healthy prize basket. We will select one winner each week as well as one grand prize winner at the end of the month. Good luck!
To kick off National Nutrition Month, here are eight ways to get healthier today!
1. Ditch diets and detoxes
While the idea of losing 10 pounds in a week to kick off your journey to a healthier version of you may seem appealing, it’s not likely to fulfill the function you’d like it to.
We all know someone – or have been someone – who has picked a quick fix and seen amazing results, only to revert to old ways and end up back where they started just as quickly. When it comes to real change, diets and detoxes won’t get you there.
2. Look for long-term solutions
While the idea of making slow and steady progress isn’t as appealing as dropping 10 pounds immediately, it’s the only proven way to make things stick in the long run.
One study conducted by the National Weight Control Registry found that individuals who maintained their weight loss for at least one year did so using sustained behavior change.
Finding a way of eating that is realistic for you to maintain forever is the best solution for lasting results. A registered dietitian can help you find these solutions and make them stick!
3. Plan ahead
Whether it’s planning your meals ahead of time, making a grocery list before running into the store, or simply having healthy snacks stashed in your desk, being prepared is always an asset in the journey to be healthier.
When we make decisions ahead of time, we are far more likely to make a better decision than if we leave it to a last-minute decision when we’re already tired, hungry, stressed, etc. Use sites such as Yummly or Pinterest to find and save healthy meal and snack ideas to use for future planning.
4. Get others on board
Whether it’s looping in your family on your goal to eat healthier, finding a friend to hit the gym with or even grabbing a co-worker for a lunchtime walk, making changes is easier when we have someone on our team.
If you’re struggling to get those around you to share your goals – don’t sweat it. Lead by example and be open to sharing when they’re ready to hear it!
5. Leave the all-or-nothing mindset behind
Hands down, the biggest block I see when it comes to trying to be healthier is an all-or-nothing mindset. We think we need to cut all the “bad” things, only eat the “good” things, and be 100% perfect.
What ends up happening is we become a pendulum. We are all in, totally “good” and 100% on it for a little while. Eventually, we crack, we eat something “bad” and let that be a reason to go totally off track, eat all of the “bad” things, skip the gym, etc. We swing back and forth between all and nothing, good and bad, healthy and unhealthy.
This cycle is hard to break, but my biggest piece of advice is to stop aiming for perfection. When we aim for 100%, we are setting ourselves up to fail. What happens when someone brings in doughnuts? What happens when you have a birthday to celebrate?
Eating “unhealthy” foods such as doughnuts or birthday cake is a completely normal part of life. It’s not unhealthy, and it’s not going to ruin your progress toward your health and wellness goals.
Instead of aiming for the unattainable 100%, I suggest aiming for an 80/20 balance. Each day, or each week, try to make 80% of your choices the “good” and “healthy” choices and allow the other 20% to be the fun choices that allow you to enjoy life, connect with others, and not feel deprived.
Like I said before, we want to focus on what’s sustainable in the long run and set ourselves up for lasting success.
6. Focus on feeling good
Take a second to answer this question: On a scale of 1-10 – with 1 being terrible and 10 being AMAZING – how do you feel today? What could you do to move yourself up one or two numbers?
Getting an extra hour of sleep, managing your workload better, having a healthier breakfast, fitting in some exercise or simply making more time for things that make you happy are ideas that might pop into your brain. Jot down as many ideas as you can think of right now, then keep reading.
7. Pick one or two things
You may be looking at a list of seven things you could do to feel better. While we all want to feel our best and try to implement all of these ideas immediately, if you decide that you’re going to get to bed extra early tonight, wake up at 5 a.m. tomorrow, go for a run, drink more water, eat a healthier breakfast, pack a salad for lunch, and cook a well-balanced dinner for yourself, you’re likely going to burn yourself out very quickly.
Instead, let’s pick one or two of those items – the ones you feel would have the most impact on your day – and try to implement them for the next week or so. Once these become part of your day and you don’t feel as if you have to work hard to make them happen anymore, pick another one or two to add to your daily routine.
8. Start today
The best day to start is today. The next best day to start is tomorrow. Waiting for Monday, for a new week, a new month or a new year is a great way to delay your success.
Your motivation is here right now; ride the wave and get started. Instead of waiting to use the weekend to prepare and go all in on Monday, start today, start tomorrow, start ASAP. Start small, but just start.
Use those goals you just came up with and put them into practice the first opportunity you get. A small change is better than no change, and good choices fuel good choices.
If only one of these points sticks with you, I want it to be this one: Make a change today for a healthier tomorrow!
Here is your trivia question of the week: When setting realistic goals, instead of aiming for 100%, a better strategy is to aim for _____. Send your answer to [email protected] by the end of the day Friday to be entered to win!