10 Painless Life Hacks for a Healthier, Happier You
I wrote this blog post as part of a movement by Weight Watchers to encourage people to remember that loving yourself starts with taking care of your health everyday. Though I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own. #lovehealthyme
At 28 years old, with 2 kids, I’m 134 pounds and 5’5″. (yepp–getting real here folks!) This means that I’m smack dab in the middle of “healthy” on the BMI chart and couldn’t be considered overweight (well–if we’re talking real people wise, not Hollywood, airbrushed size 0 model-wise). So I know that sometimes when I talk about losing weight, being careful about what I eat, or needing to exercise I get some funny reactions.
But the truth is, even though I might be “just right” when it comes to by the book, I know that there are many areas in my life that need improvement when it comes to making healthy choices and getting to the weight and size that are most comfortable and beneficial for me–and I’m not there yet! Also I learned the hard way as a newlywed that a “few” poor choices here and there can escalate quickly and result in weight gain that will take years to get rid of. So I’ve determined to be intentional from now on about my lifestyle and my eating habits to take the initiative and help myself stay healthy throughout the rest of my life! Because when I eat well, exercise, and reach my goals, it not only makes me healthier, I find I’m a lot less stressed, tired, and a lot happier too!
I’ve always been a big proponent of making small, sustainable changes that I will be able to live with for the rest of my life! So when I got the chance to partner with Weight Watchers and be intentional for a few weeks by adding at least one painless, healthy habit each day for the rest of the month I couldn’t wait to share these Simple Start steps with you!
10 Painless Life Hacks for a Healthier, Happier You
1. Workout Where You Are — my biggest breakthrough came when I realized that for me if I was going to workout it was going to have to happen in my house. I’m so busy as a work from home mommy to two that trying to get to a gym or even drive the 8 minutes to the nearest jogging track just wasn’t likely to happen. I played around with different kinds of workouts, different times of day, and different ways to motivate myself. I finally found that when I jog on the treadmill, at night as soon as the kids are in bed, while watching a favorite action-y TV show, I not only stick to exercising, I accomplish more (usually average between 2-3 miles 4-5 nights a week), workout longer (30-50 minutes, depends on the show), and even look forward to it (jaw dropping shocker for this hate-hate-hate to run girl!!!!)
The key is to make working out the easiest, most convenient, most fun way for you possible. This could mean shaking your groove thang to Zumba DVDs, buying a piece of workout equipment and a MP3 player, using your lunch break to take a quick jog outside, or even just using great workouts that you find and download from online–like this sample workout from trainer David Kirsch. Play around until you’re able to hit on the perfect activity, time, and motivation for you!
2. Spend time cleaning and organizing a room at home — It’s no shocker that I actually enjoy organizing! But whether or not you’re an organizer it’s true that clearing out clutter, giving a room a new tweak or two, and leaving everything fresh and clean is empowering! It’s all very active and is the perfect way to clear your mind which I find is often when I’m struck with my best ideas and when I can refocus. So set aside a little time and get a jump on Spring Cleaning! Make it a little more interesting by setting a timer for 15 minutes and seeing how much you can get done in that short amount of time! It’ll make you move quicker and accomplish more!
3. Take 15 minutes of Me Time — Did you know that stress can make you gain weight? Yikes! So this one is truly needed (not to mention one of my favorites)! My favorite easy way to squeeze in Me Time is to soak in a “fancy” bath with either bubbles, a soak, or a bath bomb, while reading my latest book or magazine. Feeling extra fancy? Adding in an inexpensive face mask or candle and you have spa Aaaahhh in just a few moments! Not a bath fan? Try meditating, going for a slow, peaceful walk in nature, or sneak away with your favorite guilty pleasure magazine or blog!
4. Get a full 8 hours of sleep –- I’m a huge believer in this one! When I don’t get enough sleep I get grumpy way more easily, feel “icky” all day, feel much less motivated to workout, and it’s so much easier to reach for those “easy” meals rather than healthy ones! It’s also been shown that when you don’t get enough sleep you tend to overeat. Set a bedtime, stick to it, and have a comfy & easy fix that will help every area of your health and happiness! Don’t forget to turn off all computers, tablets, and cell phones at least an hour before you hit the pillow to help you fall to sleep more easily!
5. When you eat don’t do anything else — It’s all too easy to rush through our day, eating meals on the go and mindlessly scarfing down snacks while we watch tv, sit at our computers, or read. This leads to less appreciation of the food you’re eating, feeling like you need more, and overeating. Change this by sitting down while you’re eating, and only eat! Amp up the value by making it a family meal where you can all focus on enjoying each other, building memories, and mindful eating!
6. Get active as a family — We love playing tag and racing each other and our husky in the back yard and doing play dates at parks! One of our favorites has a mile long walking path around a beautiful pond that makes for the perfect family stroll. Exercising is always painless when it’s disguised as fun! Like the first life hack–this one all depends on what you as a family enjoy and can do fairly often so get creative!
7. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – (promise it’s easier than you think) If you have a grapefruit for breakfast, a taco salad for lunch, and 2 cuties for a mid afternoon or after dinner snack, a cooked side veggie for dinner and you’re there! Like the others start to explore! Maybe you’ll discover that you hated cooked veggies, but love them fresh-or maybe it’s the other way around. Just keep experimenting with the way you prepare them, and at what time of day you eat them until you find a way to incorporate them into your day!
8. Use simple, tasty swaps to upgrade family favorite meals — If something doesn’t taste good, I’m not going to eat it no matter how healthy it is–and this is even more true for my super picky family! So what’s a girl to do? Thankfully there really are plenty of delicious, healthy options–and many you won’t even realize you’re making. My favorite healthy swaps lately are subbing in guacamole mixed with sour cream for my “bad” fat and calorie filled Thousand Island dressing on salads. I’ve also switched from bleached, white, and over-processed to whole grain flour, pasta, tortillas, and bread and my family never even noticed the difference!
Need more inspiration? Substitute thinly sliced squash for traditional spaghetti in salads, stir-fries, and casseroles; switch up cooking sauces from cream-laden to tomato based or use a cauliflower cream sauce instead, or use a crockpot to slow cook meat and veggies without the extra fat, or “sneak” extra servings of veggies by shredded them up and adding them to just about anything!
9. Fill your plate with veggies! Make sure that you have more servings of vegetables and salad than anything else. A way that I’ve found that this fits into our normal menu plan is that I take several meals I make my family and just eat the “salad” variety of them. For example when they have nachos I have taco salad and pass up the crazy amount of chips, re-fried beans, and cheese for lots of greens! It’s even tastier to me and so much more healthy while I still feel like I’m eating a family favorite. Same thing with baked chicken–you find you need a lot less meat when you are eating it in salad–just go light on the extras! Find ways to “sneak” veggies into your every day eating so that they’re tasty and painless! And extra bonus is they’re not only great for you they also fill you up!
10. Reward yourself for a healthy behavior with a pampering treat – After you’ve put in the work to take steps to becoming a healthier, happier you it’s time for a reward! But instead of reaching for food–try substituting a pampering reward or fun activity. My favorites are a manicure, massage, or a new outfit! If you’re looking for something a little less full-scale pamper yourself with a pedicure at home, an inexpensive flower bouquet from the store, or buy a new pair of earrings!
There you go! My top 10 Painless Life Hacks for a Healthier, Happier You — did I miss anything? Leave me a comment below letting me know your thoughts or any other great ideas I might have missed!