They say that old habits die hard. This can be especially true for unhealthy eating and other practices that may have been a part of your daily routine for many years. For instance, you may have been telling yourself to give up burgers, pizza, and fries, but you still find yourself visiting fast food and takeout restaurants almost every evening. Or, you may have been planning to hit the gym after work but come up with every conceivable excuse not to go. You instead drop by the convenience store to purchase a six-pack or snacks.
But, an inner voice tells you that if you do not shape up, sooner or later, you will feel the brunt of these excesses. You remember a colleague who died due to liver cirrhosis and diabetes. He was only in his thirties. An uncle in his early fifties suffered a massive stroke, rendering him partially paralyzed. Both of them were overweight and heavy drinkers and smokers. They ignored the writing on the wall.
Making the Decision
And so, you decide that it is time to shift to a healthier lifestyle. Lately, you have been feeling the adverse effects of your overindulgence. The warning signs are all there: sharp chest pains, numbness in your arms and legs, itching that never goes away, and a general malaise that lasts for hours. You see your doctor and she tells you that your blood sugar, cholesterol, and creatinine levels are all high. Her advice to you: modify your diet and start exercising. Or else…
At first, such changes may seem quite difficult. You may worry about giving up things you enjoy or doing things that you do not. But, deep down, you know that making changes is the only way you will be able to take back your life. As you end such detrimental habits, you realize that you may face many challenges. First and foremost, you may have to overcome a current mindset that has made you a slave to your harmful ways. Once you are able to deal with this concern, your transition to a healthier you may be easier.
Among the greatest fears of those who are planning to alter their eating habits is a fear of how these changes will affect their physical well-being. Some fear that if they abruptly quit the food items they have been consuming for years, their bodies may not be able to properly adjust.
But, this should not happen, especially if you make small changes in a gradual manner. Small changes in your diet can make a big difference. Here are some tips on how to adjust your food intake in ways to receive benefits without feeling deprived:
● Shift to whole grains. If you eat grains, you do not have to totally stop eating them. You just have to eat more whole grains. For instance, if you eat white bread for breakfast, you can eat whole wheat bread instead. Also, make it a habit to read the labels on food. Consider choosing foods such as whole wheat, rolled oats, and brown rice.
● Limit your fat intake. Sausages and bacon may please the palate, but do not ignore their fat content. Try eating fewer high-fat meat products, as they contribute to elevated blood pressure and clogged arteries. Other foods that contain solid fat include baked goods, ice cream, and pizza.
● Eat more fruits and vegetables. When you were a little kid, you might have scoffed at your mom every time she told you to eat your fruits and veggies. But, these foods often have high levels of vitamins and minerals. If you fill your plate with dark green and red vegetables and fruit, such as broccoli and tomatoes, you may see your energy levels skyrocket!
● Drink more water and quit the soft drinks. Our bodies are 60 percent water. We need to drink more of it due to its many health benefits. Increased water intake prevents headaches, relieves constipation, and helps treat kidney stones. On the other hand, avoid drinking soft drinks and other sugar-laden drinks.
Exercising for a Healthier You
Aside from modifying your diet and choosing healthier food, incorporating exercise in your life is also essential to lose those unwanted pounds and improve your body’s cardiovascular performance. Increased physical activity is also one of the best ways to avoid gaining more weight. Exercise can also significantly lower the risk of developing diabetes and heart problems.
You do not have to spend countless hours in the gym to experience the benefits of exercise. But first, visit a doctor to check your overall health and determine how much you can exert yourself. Once you know the state of your health, you can work with others to develop an exercise program and incorporate more activity in your daily life.
For example, you can start an exercise routine by swimming or walking at a slow pace and then gradually building in intensity as your body becomes accustomed to the physical strain. When you begin exercising, you might walk or swim for about thirty minutes a day for three days a week. As you gain strength and endurance, you might increase the length of your walks or swims to forty-five minutes or more or exercise more days each week.
Keep in mind that your diet and exercise programs are meant to make you healthy and keep you fit. They should not punish you. You should enjoy your new eating and exercise practices so they become integral parts of your daily routine.
Nicole is a freelance writer and educator based in Michigan and believes that her writing is an extension of her career as a tutor. She covers many topics like travel, mental health, and education. She is a key content contributor to Chapters Capistrano
where she covers topics like addiction recovery, holistic treatments, and health education. When she isn’t writing, you might find Nicole running, hiking, and swimming. She has participated in several 10K races and hopes to compete in a marathon one day.