Sneak Exercise Into Your Day
Exercising doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. Fitting 5-15 minute sessions of physical activity in 3 to 4 times throughout your day will boost your energy levels, all while having positive health benefits! Once this becomes a habit, you won’t think of it as time you don’t have, you’ll think of it as something you always make time for. Try these ideas, and create your own! Most important – jot it down and makes these ideas visible, so you’re reminded to do them often. Think of things you like to do to be active – do you like walking? Dancing? YouTube workout videos? Yoga? Working those muscles like bench pressing, lunging or squatting? You don’t need a gym for these; you can do push-ups against your kitchen counter, squats while watching a show (just pretend to sit on an invisible chair and repeat) or lunges in the kitchen while waiting for your food to cook! Just make sure you have proper form – find an instructional video online for tips like making sure your knees don’t extend beyond your feet. Here are some other ways to move:
- Get ready for work 15 minutes early, and take a walk before you leave for work.
- Cut your lunch break 10 or 15 minutes short, and take a walk.
- 15 minutes before your shower, pick your favorite workout and do it for 15 minutes. You’re going to shower anyway, so it’s the perfect time to work up a quick sweat!
Portion Control Like A Pro
Fill at least half your plate with healthier dishes like cooked veggies and/or salads (with the dressing on the side if that’s an option), then place small servings of the less healthy dishes in the remaining space on your plate. If you know that a friend’s house never has healthy options, bring one! You’ll have a healthy dish to load up on, and everyone else will be able to try a new, yummy recipe! Here are four ideas of veggie dishes that may be served at the event or that you can bring to have a healthy option:
- Simple Slaw. Buy a 10 bag of shredded veggies. Mix 4-5 tablespoons of Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, and a teaspoon of the following: vinegar, sugar, and mustard (any kind). Then toss with the veggies until evenly coated.
- Grilled Vegetables. Zucchini slices or tricolor carrots with fresh ground pepper, thyme, and olive oil.
- Quinoa Black Bean Salad. Mix chopped salad greens, quinoa, black beans, feta, chopped apple and cucumbers, red onion, and cherry tomatoes, with a balsamic vinaigrette.
- Roasted Veggies. A favorite for the holiday season, or fall/winter in general. Chop carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, potatoes, peppers (any veggies you like). Toss them with a little olive oil, ground pepper, herbs, and spices. Roast in the oven until the edges are slightly crispy, and they can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Rainbow pasta, plant powered salad and veggie queso-dilla are also great veggie packed dishes!
Planning is Key!
If late night eating is a big temptation, plan ahead to have a healthy snack. A late night snack that is balanced in carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein can help you manage your blood sugar overnight and avoid nighttime lows and morning highs. Have your snack pre-prepared or written down on paper to serve as a reminder to choose it over less healthy snacks if you get hungry again after dinner. Good snacks can include peanut butter (p.b.) and half of a banana, p.b. and whole wheat toast, a 1/2 cup of whole grain cereal with Greek yogurt and a few nuts, or avocado slices on whole grain crackers.
If you’re not hungry, but you’re still tempted to snack, brush your teeth after dinner and stay out of the kitchen! Visual cues work too, like placing a chair or other obstacle in the entrance to the kitchen. Even if it doesn’t actually block you from entering, just the act of putting a physical barrier there can serve as your reminder that you don’t need to go into the kitchen (or snack!) for the rest of the evening.
Enlist help from your family or close friends to help you achieve your goals. Communicate your weight goals, and your motivation to achieve them. If your family likes to bring treats over to your house, ask them to forgo them or to stick to healthy nibbles like fresh fruit, cut veggies, or fresh-baked whole grain bread. Tell them you’re just happy to see them, no food gifts required! A family walk around the local park or even to the nearest coffee shop can be a great way to combine exercise and quality family time. At work, communicate with your coworkers about your goal to improve your weight and health. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind limiting sugary treats in the break room or respecting your polite “no” if offered. Coworkers can also make excellent lunchtime walking buddies!
But we don’t mean reaching for the cookie jar! Invest in a special something that will also help you achieve your health goals. Interested in cooking more? Updating a piece of kitchen equipment, like shiny new nonstick pans or a slow cooker, will give you more tools in your healthy cooking arsenal. Trying to switch away from sugar-sweetened beverages? Pick up a travel mug with your favorite logo or a fancy insulated water bottle. You’ll be more excited to sip your 8 cups of water or home-brewed coffee or tea. Has the running bug hit you? Get fitted for custom running shoes appropriate for your foot shape, so you can keep hitting the pavement (or treadmill, trail, wherever!) and keep your feet and knees feeling as good as you do.