As a working athlete and expecting mom, my schedule is always different and interesting. I work on multiple, greatly varying projects simultaneously while attending classes and preparing for a new baby, all while still looking toward the next goal of traveling with my family and competing internationally.
There are always errands to run and things to cross off the to-do list, so when I have a new project or task I find it easiest to tackle it in smaller, more manageable steps. The same goes for adopting new habits and lifestyle changes. I’ve found that completely changing everything about something major in your life — like your diet— can be more detrimental if you take on too much at once. I know I’d have a panic attack if someone told me that I couldn’t have peanut butter anymore!
Over time, and with continual repetition and positive reinforcement, these habits become behavior. A sort of conditioning if you will, but far more tolerable than totally denying yourself of everything all at once. You shouldn’t dread the challenge you’re undertaking. It should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. The small changes made over time are often the ones that stick.
Here are a few easy swaps in your diet that you can make to affect lasting change.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! It’s so simple to do, but believe it or not, more than half of the population is dehydrated on a daily basis. You’re toting that bottle of water with you every day; you’re just not drinking enough of it. We don’t drink enough water to suitably perform at our best. Hair, skin, nails, eyesight and digestion all suffer when we skimp on the amount of water we drink per day.
So how to do you change that? As soon as you wake up, drink a glass of cool water. It’s a refreshing way to start your day off on the right foot plus, that's one less glass to drink throughout the day. Water helps your digestive system get going, and boosts your kidneys to flush toxins more readily, including excess fats. You can still have your morning cup of coffee or tea, but drink it after you have your water. Before you know it, you'll want water upon waking before even thinking about it.
Other Quick Swaps
These quick swaps that are pretty much no-brainers.
Make Healthy Food Choices:Cutting way back (if not completely dropping) the fried and process foods, the sweet and fatty snacks, and the sugar-filled drinks like sodas and juices. Most of our unaccounted calories and weight comes from the everyday choices that have simply become bad habits. We know better, but still allow ourselves to slack in this department, especially when convenience is calling or emotions start to chime in. Prepare your meals ahead of time so you don’t cave to impulse choices. Mixing a quick protein shake can be a good substitute when you’re on the go. Divine Nutrition’s single-serving protein packets make it easy to do when you’re out and about.
Watch Sugar: Sugar can be a dangerous temptation that comes in so many tricky forms. Cakes, cookies, and pastries are obvious, but certain fruits can contain a lot of sugar also. Some fruits are better than others, and should be eaten with restraint or maybe as a treat. Make sure you know what you’re putting into your body.
Spice it Up: Flavor, or the lack of, is a big deal for some people who find it difficult to let go (or even alter) some of their favorite foods. Instead of depending on creams, condiments, and other sauces to give foods taste, season foods with herbs and spices. These natural gifts from Mother Nature are awesome because they boost numerous health benefits while adding that extra zip to your recipes. Try using chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, or turmeric the next time you find yourself reaching for that go-to condiment. Not only will you save on the calories, but it’s a great way to expand your food palate and up the flavor factor!
Living a healthy lifestyle starts with small changes that make a big impact over time. Remember, you didn’t develop the habits you already have overnight…or even after a few weeks. It took time. Be patient with yourself and diligent in forming positive habits.
Being healthy to be happy is the ultimate destination, the road can be long and tough, just remember to enjoy the journey.