An amazing number of factors go into losing weight and maintaining health. Even diet and exercise, the two factors most people know about, are more complex and contain more options than they’re often given credit for. And that’s without taking into account the numerous other factors that come into play, such as sleep and hydration.
What does it all add up to? Choices! If you’re looking to shed pounds or simply improve your health in general, many changes can help you create a healthier lifestyle. These seven ideas provide awesome ways to get started today.
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Adopt a Mediterranean Diet.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the best-studied diets around and one of the most frequently recommended by doctors. So, what is the Mediterranean diet, you might ask? It’s more simple than you might think: A mostly (but not exclusively) plant-based diet that’s packed with healthy fats like olive oil, with a minimal amount of red meats and processed foods.
Simplicity and flexibility are the strengths of the Mediterranean diet. You can alter it in many different ways to suit your lifestyle, even making it a vegetarian or vegan diet if you want. It’s also now easier than ever to get Mediterranean meals conveniently through Mediterranean meal delivery services — a great option for folks with busy lifestyles.
Start a Daily Movement Practice.
You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to move more every day. Experts recommend getting at least 22 minutes of sustained movement per day, and there are lots of ways you can do it. Something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator counts. The key is to remember that any movement is better than no movement.
The more you can build your movement practices into your life, the more successful you’re likely to be at sticking with them. Try different things and find something you enjoy, whether intramural sports, riding a bike, hiking or just about anything else. Start small; don’t rush yourself. If you want, find a friend to enjoy your movement with!
Drink More Water.
Scientists have known for a long time that getting a sufficient daily water intake is one of the keys to good health. Not only does water help nearly every system in your body function more effectively, but it also can make you feel full, potentially helping reduce food cravings throughout the day.
Thus, anyone trying to improve their health and lose weight should make water intake part of the plan. Experts recommend drinking at least 15.5 cups per day for men or 11.5 cups per day for women. Note when you eat a healthy diet with the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, some of your water intake will come from these sources anyway — one more reason to stock up on the good stuff.
Pay More Attention to your Sleep.
Do you get enough sleep? The standard recommendation is seven to nine hours per night for a healthy adult, and many Americans don’t get that. Getting insufficient sleep is associated with worse outcomes in many of the most important health categories, including the ability to effectively manage your weight.
How to improve your slumber? Experts have a few recommendations: First, try to eliminate the use of any screen like a phone, tablet or computer for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Instead, try a calming activity like reading a book. It’s also important to have fixed times when you wake up and go to bed to allow your body’s circadian rhythm to adjust.
Yoga can be an outstanding choice for a daily movement practice.
Cook at Home More Often.
Restaurant meals are often swimming in butter, carbs and goodness knows what else. If you’ve gotten out of the habit of cooking at home, commit to getting back into the kitchen. It’ll help put you back in the driver’s seat of your diet. When you cook, you decide what goes into everything you make. That makes it easier to make the right choices
If you’re a little bit intimidated by cooking or short on time, fear not. There’s a wealth of step-by-step videos and instructions online that can show you in detail how to prepare quick, tasty meals. Meal kit services are another popular option, and they now also serve various special dietary needs, from gluten-free recipes to low FODMAP meal delivery options.
Reduce your Alcohol Intake.
Experts currently advise men to drink no more than two alcoholic drinks per day and women to drink no more than one. But many people drink far more than that — even people who don’t have what they might consider a drinking problem. Studies are increasingly showing that this excessive imbibing is a health hazard, and it doesn’t help your waistline, either.
If you have more than the recommended amount of drinks per day, cutting down is one of the best things you can do for your health. That’s before we even take into account the sky-high calories that are in many alcoholic beverages — just two or three beers can eat up hundreds of calories from your daily budget.
Eating better doesn’t mean banishing snacks, but it does mean getting smarter about what you’re snacking on. Make it easy for yourself to grab healthy snacks by preparing them ahead of time, such as cutting up veggies and portioning them with hummus. Of course, some folks also find that they need to banish unhealthy snacks from the house altogether.
Moreover, it’s important to get your head around the psychological side of snacking. Many people find themselves snacking when they’re bored or stressed. If that sounds like you, look into mindful eating practices. These tools can help you evaluate when your body is hungry and when your mind is reaching for food as a coping mechanism.