Plan to succeed; Don’t Plan to Fail. Set time aside to prep your meals for the week. If you have your meals prepped and ready to go or grab, you’re more likely to stay on track and hit your goals.
Eat “real food” — mostly fresh and healthy frozen. Processed foods can be calorie dense. It’s also processed to enhance flavor, preserve it longer, and make it convenient. The downfall is processing adds unwanted fat, sugar, calories, salt and “foreign” ingredients. “Real food” is nutrient dense. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. Not everything that’s processed is bad — but it’s up to you to make the right choices. “Real food” is often grown and doesn’t have as much packaging and ingredients listed.
Drink Plenty of Water. Drinking water has many benefits. Some benefits of drinking water can help reduce appetite if consumed before a meal and help with better physical performance. The daily recommendation is to drink eight, 8-oz glasses of water (about 2 liters) per day. However, as with so many things, water requirements depend entirely on the individual.
Keep food records — Write It Down. Keeping track of exactly what and how much you eat will help identify problem patterns in your eating behavior. The process of reflecting on what you eat will help you become aware of habits or triggers, and hopefully change the behavior pattern. People who keep food records are two times more successful at weight loss. It doesn’t have to be formal. Scribble it on a tablet, send yourself an email or text, or use an app if you wish. Just do it. Self-awareness is key to changing behaviors.
Keep Track of Activity — Type of activity, time and intensity. Track your activity to help you establish a regular exercise routine. Keeping track of your progress can build confidence and help you set milestones to achieve activity goals.
Move — Exercise. Include strength training as the foundation of your activity. Muscle matters. Muscle is the primary source of energy to boost metabolism. Perform strength training at least 2 times a week to help preserve your muscle. You don’t need to spend hours on a cardio machine either. Perform high intensity intervals for 20 to 30 minutes two to three times a week to complement your strength training. On your off-days you can also incorporate recreational activity such as walking or biking. Of course, everyone’s goals are different but this is a good rule of thumb to get you on a healthy track without making you feel like exercise rules your life. It doesn’t need to!
Write down your goals — what motivates you? Create them in small increments. For example, weekly, monthly, quarterly. Your overall goal can often be met through a series of smaller milestones that build on one another. Goal setting keeps you motivated and accountable. Share your goals with a close friend or family member. This also helps keep you accountable. Place your goals where you can see them every day. You can also visually create your written goals by creating a vision board.
Most Importantly – Get Your Rest. Not only are nutrition and exercise the keys to good health but we also need to include sleep. Lack of sleep can cause disruption in the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite. In addition, lack of sleep has also been known to cause a rise in the stress hormone cortisol. Not getting enough sleep can also affect your physical and mental performance. Bottom line, you simply cannot achieve optimal health without enough sleep.