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So, you want to get healthy. Many people want better health and to feel good in their body and lose weight, but it seems so hard. You feel like you have to completely overhaul your diet, get rid of all the indulgences, begin a new fitness regime and basically, change your whole life to be healthy.
It’s no wonder people struggle with this!
The truth is, not only are big changes like this hard to make, they are don’t really help us create new lasting change anyway. As John C. Maxwell put it so well, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
Nowhere is this truer than in reference to your health. We make so many small daily decisions that affect our physical bodies; it really is our healthy habits and our routines that determine how our body looks and feels.
So, true health comes from small things that we do daily. When we can make these small actions into healthy habits, we will see the change we want to see.
Here’s your healthy habit list, with 10 daily habits that you can incorporate into your life right now, for big life-long results.
Healthy Habit #1: Eat More Vegetables
Research has shown that the number one indicator of health, living without disease, and even weight loss is the number of servings of vegetables a person eats. Pause for a minute and think: How many servings of vegetables did you have today? Yesterday? When you’re counting your vegetables, don’t include starches, like corn and potatoes. Think of non-starchy veggies, like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.
Vegetables are loaded with nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Vegetables should be the bulk of your diet by volume. So that means, if you look at your plate, vegetables are most of what you see.
So, how many servings of vegetables should you eat in a day? 10 or MORE! If you’ve dieted, or you are coming from this mentality of trying to always “eat less”, this is going to seem like a LOT of food! It might take you a while to adjust to eating such a large volume of food. Of course, if you’ve dieted, you probably already know that veggies are really low in calories. A typical side dish for me is an entire bag of frozen cauliflower or 6 servings of cauliflower. It literally fills up my plate but has only 125 calories (not that we’re counting!)
Eating a large volume of food is going to help you feel full. Never worry about eating too many vegetables. If you’re hungry, eat vegetables! With EVERY meal, start the healthy habit of eating more vegetables!
So, this might seem counterintuitive. How can eating MORE of something help you lose weight and be healthier? Two ways:
- Hormonal changes will happen in the body when we flood it with nutrition. The nutrients that your body will get from all these vegetables will literally heal your body and your metabolism, and
- The principle of crowding out. This means simply that you eat so much of the good stuff that you’re not hungry for the bad stuff.
Healthy Habit #2: Get Enough Protein
The next area where we want to focus on is protein. You want the majority of your protein to come from lean protein sources. That’s not because fat is bad (fat is great), but because fatty foods are actually classified as fats, not as proteins.
With each meal, eat a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein. What does that look like?
- A whole can of tuna,
- a cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese,
- 2 eggs and 3 egg whites,
- or a serving of salmon, beef, or chicken are a few examples.
Why is protein so important for maintaining a healthy body weight?
Protein takes a lot of energy to digest. In fact, when we eat protein, the first 30% of calories are burned just digesting it! So, say we had a meal with 300 protein calories.
- The first 90 calories are used to change the protein to amino acids that our body can digest.
- Then, the next 33%, or 70 calories of what is left is used converting the protein into glucose that can be used by the cells.
- Then, if our body needed to convert that to body fat, it would take an additional 25% of the calories to do so.
- So, more than half of the calories from protein are used up in the digestion process!
That means that when you eat 300 calories of protein, only 105.5 of those calories can even be converted to fat because of the physiological processes of getting it to the cells.
The other reason we really want to eat that 30-gram serving of protein is that it triggers something called “muscle protein synthesis.” Jonathan Bailor, author of the Calorie Myth says, “That’s because when we eat 30 grams or more of protein, the concentration of a specific amino acid in our blood, called leucine, becomes high enough to cause our body to refresh and renew our lean tissue.”
So, basically, eating enough protein actually helps our body to build lean tissue.
Healthy Habit #3: Eat Healthy Fats
Next up are fats. I love my fats! A lot of people are afraid of fats, but don’t be scared! Fats are essential for health. Fats fill you up. They make your skin look good. And, eating fat actually helps you lose weight.
Let’s talk about how. Whole food fats fill you up and keep you satisfied. What happens is when we eat whole food fats, we’re giving our bodies nutritious food and we become full–making it hard to overeat. Because this is real food that our bodies can actually use, we have more energy. Without a sufficient quality and quantity of fat in our diet, we will not feel satisfied. Our bodies will keep sending us signals to find more food to satisfy our hunger. So a major role of fats in the diet is to keep us satisfied.
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In a healthy lifestyle, most of your calories come from fat. That’s good news because fats taste good and make our other food taste good too! You want to focus on whole food fats, meaning, not just oils, but foods with fat in them. However, you still don’t need to be afraid of butter or olive or coconut oil because they can help you eat your vegetables. Not only does that make them taste great, many vitamins in veggies are fat-soluble, meaning fats help your body use the vitamins in those vegetables.
Let me give you some delicious examples of whole food fats:
- Cocoa/ cacao
- Fatty fish (like salmon)
Jonathan Bailor recommends 3-6 servings of fats per day. For me, I have found that I don’t need to count grams or even servings of fat. Just make sure you’re getting in 10 or more servings of vegetables daily (and remember- the more vegetables=the faster you’ll see results), 20-30 grams of protein at each meal, and then add fats as desired.
Healthy Habit #4: Move Your Body
Move every day. Be active. Find something you enjoy doing. I love yoga and walking with friends. The most beneficial exercise for weight loss is HIIT or lowering heavy weights. The most beneficial exercise for you is the one that you will do!
Studies often show that there are different minimum amounts of exercise to see benefits. The big thing to focus on here is to have an active lifestyle.
This can include things like:
- Playing basketball with your kids
- Tai Qi
- Riding a Bike
Healthy Habit #5: Get Enough Sleep
This healthy habit is so important! So many of your body’s processes are regulated by sleep – your energy levels, hunger signals, satiety signals, and mood.
Get to bed at a reasonable and consistent time, and wake up at a consistent time in the morning.
Arianna Huffington said, in her book, Sleep Revolution,“ Sleep involves a range of complex functions associated with memory, our ability to learn, brain development and cleaning, appetite, immune function, and aging. And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what it does for our mood, our well being, our creativity and our relationships.”
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Healthy Habit #6: Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule gives you permission to let loose a little bit.
80% of your meals are chosen for health, but with the other 20%, give yourself permission to choose for pleasure. This rule means that you don’t have to deprive yourself. You can go out, have fun and enjoy life-all while being healthy and creating the body you want.
This is key to being able to stick to healthy habits for life. When we are too strict or rigid with our diet, it becomes really hard to stick to long-term.
Healthy Habit #7: Reduce Stress
Manage your stress levels.
Make time to do those things that recharge you: hot baths, date nights, massage, prayer and meditation, reading, time with friends–whatever allows you that time to reconnect with who you are and come back to daily life refreshed. Lowering your stress will keep you healthier and happier.
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An excess of stress negatively affects our health and our weight. When we have an increase of cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, we see a corresponding increase of our waist size.
Make a healthy habit of taking time to slow down. You will feel so much better.
Healthy Habit #8: Love Your Body
It doesn’t matter how much weight you lose if you don’t feel good about your body. The first step to improving your body image is accepting that you were given this one body. No matter how much you want things to change in it, this is the only body you have.
Once you realize that, you start to see things a little bit differently.
For me, it wasn’t until I really began to be grateful for my body that I started to see the changes that I wanted to see.
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I suggest writing in a journal all the things you are thankful for about your body. Say them out loud if it helps. Feeling and expressing gratitude for our body increases our feelings of positive body image.
That leads to us wanting to make better choices because we appreciate this body that we have and want to treat it well.
Each day take time to make a habit of loving yourself.
Healthy Habit #9: Focus on Real Foods
Real food is grown in nature, raised in nature or comes from animals who have lived their lives in nature
Cynthia Lair says, “whole foods are foods that are made of just one ingredient (such as apples, eggs, or beans) or are combined only with whole ingredients we recognize (such as bread made with just whole wheat flour, water, salt and yeast).”
Real Foods are going to be much simpler. If you’re not sure if something is a real food or not, it can be helpful to read the ingredient list. A long list of unpronounceable ingredients is not easy for your body to digest. Stick to real food most of the time.
Healthy Habit #10: Find a Mentor
It can help so much to have someone with you as you work toward a healthier lifestyle who has done it themselves and can answer your questions.
As a fitness professional and health coach who has worked with hundreds of women, I know the importance of getting help and coaching so you never have to wonder what you should do next.
My program, Mind Body Transformation, is all about taking daily steps and creating habits that lead to lifelong health and wellness. Having good, solid nutrition information is a good start- but it’s not enough. You also need practical steps to help you implement what you are learning.
Mind Body Transformation will help you learn the mindset shifts and change your body for health that will truly transform the way you look and feel.
Printable Habit Tracker Templates
It’s time to pick a new healthy habit from this list and put it into practice. One small change, taken one day at a time for life-long benefits. Sign up below to get the FREE Printable Habit Trackers, with pages for 30 and 31 days.