Adding healthy habits to your day

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

A diet junkie. I could add that to my resume, since it seems to be a lifelong occupation for me. But over the past few months I have made a small but significant change.

Instead of always thinking about having to eat less, or doing without, I have started to focus on eating and doing more to achieve a healthy weight and a healthier life.

It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Eating more but reaching a healthier weight? The secret I believe is in what you choose to add more of, rather than what you choose less of. Let’s face it, less feels like denial, but more feels like an easy change.

Here’s some examples of easy ways of adding more to achieve your weight and other health goals:

  • Add more vegetables. There are so many healthy, delicious vegetables available in our local markets; and many excellent ways to prepare them: salads, sautes, steamed or in soups and stews. Find a good cookbook, ask a friend for ideas, or use your imagination. Whatever you do, eating more vegetables will soon make a difference.
  • Which segues easily to cooking more. Our busy lives make it all too easy to skip cooking in favor of take out or restaurant food . But how easy it is to lose control when you are not doing the cooking.
  • Too many slices of cheese-laden pizza, a gut-busting bowl of spaghetti and meatballs…we’ve all been there. When we do the cooking, though, we are much more likely to choose a variety of healthy, fresh food, to prepare it conscientiously, and to control our portions.
Photo by Fatima Akram on Unsplash
  • Choose more whole grains and fiber rich foods. Once you start eating whole grain breads and cereals, white flour tastes, well, tasteless. And as far as our bodies are concerned, there’s very little difference between a slice of white bread and a cupcake. There are many fiber rich whole foods out there; you can tell them by how much your teeth enjoy crunching them (and I’m not talking about potato chips here!) Oh, and while we’re on the subject —
  • Choose more whole, unprocessed foods. In other words, choose to munch on an apple with its skin, rather than a prepackaged “healthy” snack bar with a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients not found anywhere but in a manufacturing plant. In fact, choose more fruit. Pears, oranges, mangoes, peaches, strawberries, blueberries — all are whole and all are wonderful treats worth eating more of every day.
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The more is better approach to living healthily is not just limited to food. Starting today, try adding more of these changes:

  • Move more and move often, all day long. You know the drill: walk around the block; climb extra stairs; park your car farther away in the mall; get up from your desk chair every hour or so and stretch your legs; put on some music and dance, with or without a partner. (My cats find it very amusing to watch me twist and hop around to the music of my generation-the 60's-but what do they know?)
  • Drink more water. Pro-athletes all know this. Why should we not hydrate too? But let’s stop using all those single-use plastic bottles. Treat yourself to a really nice thermal bottle, maybe several in a few different sizes and colors, and sip and swallow away.
Photo by Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash

Did you know that often what we think is hunger or fatigue is really lack of hydration? Try this experiment: when you feel hungry, tired, or have a dull headache, reset your brain and body with water.

  • Think, write, and express more positive thoughts. This one sounds so easy, yet it isn’t always easy, is it? When we are feeling low about life in general or a particular problem, it is very difficult to keep telling ourselves chirpily “What a great life I have!” There’s no doubt that all of life’s challenges must be overcome through concentration and effort. But it never, ever hurts to have a positive sense of yourself or a sincere feeling of gratitude for all that has gone, is going, or will go right in your life.
  • Get more sleep. This really links back to the need to conscientiously pursue positive thoughts. It seems that as a nation we have become significantly sleep-deprived. And since our bodies use their sleeping hours to repair and refresh themselves, we are seriously sabotaging our own health when we don’t get enough sleep. Positive thoughts are not the only ingredients to a good night’s sleep; but unless one is a sleeping pill addict, positive thinking is a key element in being able to relax happily under that comfy duvet.
Photo by Sophia Kunkel on Unsplash

So what’s the takeaway in all this? More is better in so many ways: more healthy eating, healthy movement, healthy thoughts, healthy habits.

Less too often feels like deprivation, which no self-respecting human can ever endure for long.

What about you? Less or more?

Deborah Barchi has recently retired from her career as a librarian and now has time to read, explore nature, and write poetry and essays.

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