Now that the new year is here we’re all ready for a refresh, right? January always feels so new and clean to me and when the Christmas and holiday decorations finally come down and the home is bare, the presents put away, and the weather crisp… the buzz of newness, wellness, and health are all so prominent in my mind. It’s the time to set intentions, be mindful, and begin habits you hope will follow you into the rest of the year. But, so many times than not, we focus so hard on one resolution that we end up on our heads and overwhelmed with a huge change we can’t keep up with. It has been my goal not just this new year, but the later half of 2018, to be more mindful about my goals, especially in wellness. I have come to terms with the fact that nothing happens overnight and no one is capable of turning their health around with a blink of an eye and some wishful thinking. I truly believe that one tiny change every day adds up to something huge in the future and it is the gradual changes that mean the most in the long run. That is why I wanted to share some of my favorite, easy to implement, everyday tips that may also help you reach your goal of being more mindful of your health this new year. These tips are not meant to be quick fixes and aren’t equivalent to the fad diets I’m sure have flooded your feeds the past two weeks. Rather, they are small lifestyle changes that can be used to motivate you each day to be a better version of yourself overall.
P.S. It’s really easy to feel like you’re failing if one day you miss the mark and eat one too many cookies or take one too many naps. But the secret to keeping up with your health goals is to not be so hard on yourself. Holding yourself to an unattainable, much too perfect standard will only set you up for failure. The key to success is knowing you will fail, but getting up and continuing anyways. This mindset has helped me so much when I become unmotivated and it has helped me be more respectful to myself through my own journey. No one has it all figured out, but that’s the fun part!
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store
Have you ever noticed that most of the processed foods hang out in the middle of the grocery stores? Keeping to the outskirts when you do your weekly shopping may motivate you to stick to more of the fresh stuff. It is there where you’ll find the fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins and meats, yogurts, etc. And while it is a good rule of thumb to keep to the perimeter, there are always exceptions to the rules of course and every grocery store is set up differently (for example, a lot of the frozen food in Sprouts is along the perimeter). But, filling your cart with items from the fresh food sections of the store will keep you from hovering that candy or chip aisle.
Make alternatives to desserts and candies
Like everyone, dessert is one of my favorite things about life. I love a good homemade cake, cookie, donut… you name it! Baking is actually one of my favorite hobbies. And while that doesn’t mean I need sugar everyday, it doesn’t mean I can’t have sugar at all either. Most days, yes, I do crave something on the sweeter side (especially at night) but I have a few tricks up my sleeve that keep me from eating cookie dough on the daily. Whenever I feel a craving coming on, I try to think up ways I can use healthier ingredients to settle it. For example, I have been loving a thick and creamy peanut butter banana smoothie after dinner this week! Sometimes I’ll even add cocoa powder to it or top it with chocolate chips. There are so many desserts that aren’t too detrimental to your health or aren’t loaded with tons of grams of sugar. I really want to try avocado pudding soon (thanks Pinterest!) or being more creative with banana ice cream (literally frozen bananas blended into ice cream consistency – top it how you wish!) Hot cocoa made with almond milk is another favorite of mine. Made with almond milk and quality cocoa powder, it’s really not all that bad for you. In my opinion, it is more about the quality of ingredients than the type of food anyway. Like, hello, a homemade cookie will always be a better option than a store-bought candy bar any day!
Don’t restrict yourself too much
Intuitive eating has been something I have become super interested in lately. Basically, it’s becoming intuitive with your eating habits and not following any restrictive rules or diets. It’s knowing when you’re hungry, being conscious of how your body feels after eating certain foods, being in tune with your cravings, and NOT telling yourself you can’t have a certain food. It is definitely a process but I have had a lot of fun with it and even found that my body craves more veggies and whole foods than ever before. Intuitive eating isn’t easy, especially when you’re used to believing you “can’t” eat certain foods. But, it’s so worth it and allows for the healthiest of relationships with the food you eat! When you restrict food, you are playing tricks on your mind and honestly, you’ll just end up binging what you can’t have… especially if you’re used to eating it normally. Everyone knows the saying, “you want what you can’t have” right? It’s okay to give in sometimes. It’s important to our mental health!!
Just this morning, I ordered my flat white with almond milk at Starbucks. I love that drink because it’s frothy and roasted and doesn’t contain one bit of sugar or dairy. I had already driven away from the window when I realized they had handed me a gingerbread latte. You know, the DAIRY latte made with 38 GRAMS of sugar??!! It took everything in me to just drink it and be happy anyway… but I did it, and I felt good about it. Why? Because I know moderation is key and although I prefer not to consume too much dairy and sugar, I feel okay if I do every once in a while. If I were to have been in a restrictive mindset, my mood would have definitely been different. See the difference?
Surround Yourself with What You Want to Become
Have you ever heard the saying, “fake it ’til you make it”? I believe it 100%. Immersing yourself in the lifestyle you want, even if it’s not yours yet, will always get you where you want to be. Do you notice that you and your friends or significant other start talking the same or use the same mannerisms after spending time together? Or that you realize your unconsciously smiling after seeing someone in a photo or on TV smile? There is actual science behind this and it’s called your mirror neurons. Your brain literally helps you mimic your outside world, especially the people in it. And if you can’t get around a group of like-minded people, follow accounts on social media that post what inspires you to live the lifestyle you are aiming for! I love following accounts on Instagram that share healthy recipes and I love yoga accounts. Seeing the posts from those accounts everyday keep those things at the forefront of my mind. Another favorite thing to surround myself with are wellness books on my nightstand, wellness podcasts on my phone for car rides or walks, and healthy recipe books in easy reach for dinner time! On the way home from work, I will listen to educational podcasts on health topics that interest me… this seriously works so well for me and gets me so pumped to learn all that I can!
I saved this one for last because it’s one of the most obvious tips, but it’s also one of the best in my opinion! Early in high school, I gave up soda and literally haven’t had a cup or can of it since. I honestly think it tastes horrific and just don’t ever prefer it anyway. Instead, most of the time I just get water with any meal I order and if not, then it’s unsweet tea. It sounds like such a simple switch, but it makes a huge difference! It cuts SO much sugar out of your diet and you won’t be consuming the artificial colors and flavors in the soda. It really has absolutely no nutritional value at all, whereas water supports digestion, plumps and hydrates your cells, and keeps your body functioning properly. I definitely need to work on how much water I consume daily, but I think drinking water with every meal over anything else, is always a good idea and helps up your water intake with little to no effort! If you want to jazz up your water, try sparkling water or adding Young Living essential oils for a bit of flavor (I love lime).
I really hope these tips help you slowly but surely transform your everyday routines to live a more healthy, balanced lifestyle!! I know they have really helped me along the way and I am so happy to finally share them here. Let me know below what you like to implement into your daily routine that keeps you on track with your health goals.