Do you believe you need to banish red meat from your diet and exercise for an hour and a half everyday, in order to "get healthy?" Some of my coaching clients definitely believe in those extremes. But the good news is that you can create a healthy lifestyle without undertaking a full life makeover. You can begin by taking baby steps that will put you on the path to wellness.
Before you change anything, think about why you want to live a healthier life? What's your expected payoff? Do you want to have more energy to channel into your personal and professional life? Do you want to be able to keep up with your children? When you're clear about your motivation for making these changes, you'll be more likely to follow through and reach your goals.
As always, check with your doctor before you change your diet or start an exercise plan. Once you get the go-ahead, commit to making one change at a time, because when you try to do too much too soon, you set yourself up for failure.
When you're ready, these are some small steps you can take to begin living a healthy lifestyle:
- Bulk Up on Fruits and Vegetables – Stocking up on fruits and vegetables makes good sense for a couple reasons. For one thing, they are lower in calories than many other foods. For another, some fruits and vegetables have been proven to fend off heart disease and cancer. If you're not a vegetable lover, choose the vegetables you DO enjoy first, then branch out.
- Help Yourself to Smaller Portions – In our culture, we have become accustomed to gargantuan portions. The problem is that our bodies can not put all that food to good use, so our waists expand and our weight tips the scales, which, as you probably know, can lead to a variety of medical problems including heart disease and diabetes. Part of the solution is to eat smaller portions. At home, consider using smaller plates to help you scale back. When you go to a restaurant, ask your waiter to wrap half of your meal to go in a "doggy bag" or consider splitting an entrée with a friend.
- Eat Slowly and Consciously – When was the last time you sat down to a meal and actually took your time, savoring each mouthful? If you're like most people, it's a rare event. But when you slow down and chew your food, setting down your fork between each bite, you will enjoy your food more and become aware of when you're no longer hungry, so you can stop eating before you're stuffed.
- Move More – While it's true that regular, sustained exercise has significant health benefits, when you're trying to begin an exercise program, less is more. So set small goals in the beginning. Make a commitment to walking your dog (or yourself) around the block twice a day and park your car farther away from your destination so you will be integrating more movement into your day. When you start out slowly and feel the benefits of moving more, you will probably want to increase the length and intensity of your exercise. But be sure to check with your physicist first, before doing so.
If you try one of several of these ideas, over a period of time, you will likely find that you have more energy to channel into all the aspects of your life that are important to you.
Copyright 2009 Ellen H. Brown
Do not reprint without attribution.
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