Lifestyle Changes For A Healthier You

Good morning blog readers!  

It’s the second Monday of the new year and there’s no better day to start making your dreams come true.  How many of us make a general new year’s resolution to lose weight or be healthier?  This was me for countless years, only to fall off the healthy bandwagon a few months after starting.  The key to success in maintaining a healthy body type is to make lifestyle changes.  Disclaimer: I am by no means a nutritionist or dietician but I am happy to share what has worked for me.  These are a few of the lifestyle changes I have implemented since losing roughly 15 pounds and keeping it off since my chunkier high school days.

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1 | Be smart about beverage choices

Making mindful choices about what liquids you put in your body can make a substantial difference in your ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy physique.  I am breaking down this category into three main subcategories: coffee, alcohol, and soda.

coffee: my daily order used to be a medium hot coffee with mocha or pumpkin (seasonally) and whole milk or cream.  I often had two of these daily.  These flavored syrups are packed with sugar and empty calories.  A medium hot coffee with mocha and cream from Dunkin Donuts has 260 calories, 9 grams of fat, and a whopping 34 grams of sugar.  As you probably know, this is not a healthy choice and sneaks up on us in the form of decreased energy, increased inches, and weight gain.

I started drinking my daily 2-3 cups of coffee with a splash of 2% milk and organic stevia (a natural zero calorie sweetener).  This has 0 grams of sugar and roughly 30 calories per cup. I make it at home, which saves me money and allows me to have more control over what I put in my body.  When I want a treat (a holiday latte from Starbucks for example), I order my drink with no whipped cream and only one pump of flavor.  For reference, baristas typically use 4-5 pumps for a grande or medium.  My usual coffee order at a coffee shop is a cappuccino- I do not add sugar so the calories are mostly coming from the milk.

alcohol: alcoholic beverages are yet another source of empty calories, but some drinks are worse than others.  Instead of sugary mixed drinks with fruit juices and other crap, I opt for more simple cocktails with fresh squeezed lemon or lime.  My go-to when I am out with friends is a vodka soda with extra lime.  The calories are all coming from the vodka since seltzer and lime are calorie-free.  I love wine as well, and I have recently swapped more red blends for white- Pinot Grigio is my fav.  Red wine has less sugar and other properties such as antioxidants that are actually healthy.  Here is an article that goes over the benefits of drinking red wine.

soda: my rule is not to buy soda for your home- only buy it out in moderation.  However, I think if you can cut out soda entirely, you are much better off.  My weakness is coca-cola.  I used to order it every time I went to a restaurant but I stopped doing that and now order water with lemon instead.  The only time I will get a coke is at McDonalds because everyone know theirs is exceptionally delicious- it’s worth the treat 😉  If you love the carbonation and want something with a little flavor, try flavored seltzer water.  Most are flavored naturally with no sweeteners and therefore no calories.  My favorite brands are La Croix and Perrier 🙂

2 | Drink a bottle of water before having seconds 

Overeating can be engrained in us from a young age, especially those of us raised in America.  Who was told they had to finish a meal before being excused from the table?  I still struggle with this, especially when the food tastes delicious 😉  This is a solution I have found to be effective- Serve yourself a reasonable portion of food- maybe a bit smaller than you typically do.  Finish that initial portion, then drink a full bottle of water to help your body digest.  If you are still hungry after drinking the water, help yourself to a second, smaller portion.  If you are full, simply stop eating.  Sometimes the receptors in our digestive system require additional time to communicate with the center of our brain that give us the signal for “full.” By taking the time to drink a bottle of water, we allow our brain to catch up with our belly and prevent overeating.

3 | Find a method of exercise that you love

This is so important.  I used to belong to a gym that did not offer classes so it was up to me to be self-disciplined enough to hit all of the muscle groups and research effective and safe exercises to do on the machines.  In the beginning I was motivated and feeling good, but after a few months I got bored of the treadmill and elliptical and started dreading my workouts.  It actually got to a point that I once drove all the way to the gym, sat in the car for 20 minutes, then drove back home.  Kudos to those of you that are disciplined and self-motivated enough to work out like this.  It just wasn’t for me.

My whole perception of exercise transformed when I started taking group exercise classes.  My favorites are barre, hot yoga, and pilates.  I also mix in cycling and kickboxing every now and then.  I love that an instructor tells me exactly what to do which takes the guess work out of it, and I love the motivation I get from exercising with other people.  Some of you might enjoy taking classes, and some of you might not- thats okay.  The point here is to trial different things and find what works best for you.  Exercise is a life long commitment so it’s so important to keep it fun!  Make a list of options you may be interested in, look up studios or gyms near you using a simple google search or the MINDBODY app, and call them for more information!  Most studios and gyms will allow you to do a free trial class for your first time.

4 | Go to the grocery store after working out

Although I understand this situation is not always possible- because, life- I have noticed that when I do my grocery shopping after a workout, I make significantly better choices.  Just try it 😉

5 | Don’t deprive yourself

Guys, do NOT, and I repeat DO NOT deprive yourself of the foods you love.  Life is meant to enjoy, and if food gives you as much joy as it does me, why would you ever restrict yourself?  Life is all about balance and food is no exception.  If you ate chick-fil-a for dinner last night, get a work out in today and skip the dessert.  If you know you are going out for dinner tonight, eat a light breakfast and lunch with protein to hold you over.  Make intentional choices everyday about the foods you eat and I promise you, your body will thank you.

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Be kind to yourself.  Recognize your body for the good it does.  Take it one step at a time.  Praise yourself when you earn it.  Forgive yourself when you fu*k up.  Enjoy food- it’s meant to be enjoyed.  Eat chocolate and cheese and wine and pasta.  But also eat vegetables.  Cheers beautiful people. xx

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