It’s a new year and many look for new fads, diet pills or take extreme measures to lose weight. Instead, this year, it’s time to place focus on making healthier long-term lifestyle changes. Here are some tips to help you move towards a healthier you:
Breakfast: Making sure to start your day off with a high protein breakfast no more that 30-60 minutes after you wake up will help to “break the fast” and get your metabolism going first thing in the morning. I like to suggest a couple eggs, sprouted whole grain toast, and fruit or some plain Greek yogurt and berries topped with nuts and seeds. Having a good breakfast high in protein will help you to manage your cravings and keep you feeling fuller longer. I also love steel cut oats with slivered almonds topped with berries and honey.
Balance Your Meals: Grabbing an apple on your way out the door, or simply having a cheese sandwich for lunch doesn’t mean you’re balancing your meals. You want to make sure you can see foods from all food groups on your plate every time you eat. I always suggest that half of the plate be full of vegetables, with a serving of protein (comparing to the palm of your hand is a great way to make sure you have enough), and 1-2 starch servings ie, 1-2 slices sprouted whole grain bread, 1/2 cup pasta, rice or quinoa, and some fat. When adding fats to your dietary intake try and incorporate healthy omega-rich monounsaturated fats to help increase heart health such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocados, and hemp hearts. A must-try for a yummy balanced lunch is my hemp protein salad.
Snack Between Meals: Snacking between meals will keep your metabolism going, help you maintain blood sugar levels and keep those cravings at bay! I like to enjoy a fruit with some protein; maybe 1/2cup of fruit and 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, or 1oz of cheese and some apple slices, 1tbsp peanut butter with 1 cup of celery, or 1/2 cup yogurt with some chia seeds and fruit. Sooooo good. I like making my Chia Chocolate Dream pudding for a snack! Shhhh…..my kids think it’s dessert!
Drink Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated will help you maintain the balance of fluids in your body, minimize cravings, energize muscles and reduce hunger. Not to mention, making sure to have plenty water will aid digestion and help regulate bowel movements. Having 8-10 cups a day is a great guideline and remember herbal tea counts!
Get Active: A good cardio workout has great cardiovascular health benefits. Getting your heart rate up will keep your heart healthy and burn extra calories. Want to melt that fat and re-shape your body? Then don’t be afraid to lift some weights too! Resistant/strength training is always good for the body as it will help build lean muscle, and as a bonus after a good workout with some weights your body will continue to burn calories/fat for hours after your workout. I always like a good total body workout 3x/week and resistant training the other days.
Eat Clean: When talking to my clients about eating “clean” I simply mean choosing foods that are in their most natural state; organic is best whenever possible, however not necessary. Try and avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated sodas, refined sugars and foods with ingredients that we can’t pronounce.
Sleep: Getting a good night’s rest (7-9 hours) each night means we’ll be waking up rested and refreshed ready to take on the day. When we allow our bodies to go through proper “REM” sleep hormones in our body are then secreted properly throughout the day as well. What does this mean? Well for starters less cravings, no brain fog, and our body will be able to give us those hunger cues. Ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone will be secreted when we’re hungry and leptin will be secreted to tell us when we’re full. Many studies have shown that with the lack of sleep there is an increase in cortisol secretion which is linked to stress and an increase in belly fat. I personally like to have a warm chamomile tea with some dried tart cherries and almonds as a snack before bed. The magnesium in this snack will help to relax our muscles and body and the tryptophan (the sleep-inducing amino acid and precursor for serotonin) will help us get the rest we need.
Remember, your weight loss journey doesn’t have to be about starvation, counting calories or incorporating excessive workouts. Simply work on frequently fueling your body with high protein foods, stay hydrated, and be active on a daily basis in a way that makes you feel good. Simply treat your body with love, be patient and with time you’ll see that weight loss will soon become the side effect of you making healthier choices more often than not.