Having a plan for how you will begin and end each day in a healthy way will keep you motivated to reach your goals. Morning and evening routines create the consistency necessary to form healthy habits. In the morning, drink 2 cups of water, work out, or make your eating plan for the day. At night, prepare healthy lunches and snacks, schedule 10 minutes to read, or wind down with a relaxing yoga session.
Try things more than once.
Whether it’s a new workout or a new food, never give up on a healthy change after trying it only once. You may simply need to make adjustments so that it’s a better fit for you. If you dislike strength training in the weight room, try a muscle conditioning class. If you can't stand broccoli, look for new recipes with creative ways to prepare it, or try other cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage.
Make vegetables non-negotiable.
Few other foods provide the same unique plant nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber for so few calories as vegetables. You might not like them at first, but they are an essential part of healthy eating. Create the habit of having some type of vegetable at every meal. Start by using vegetables as mix-ins or toppings for some of your favorite foods. Add shredded cabbage to tacos and stir bell peppers and spinach into scrambled eggs. As you develop a preference for certain types of vegetables, transition to larger portions to make them the focus of your meals.
Insist on healthy snacks.
Snacking when you’re hungry doesn’t have to ruin your eating plan. Stay one step ahead and keep healthier snacks like low-sugar yogurt, nuts, seeds and fresh fruit easily accessible. When you attend meetings or parties, offer to provide a healthy dish. Your fellow attendees will appreciate a nutritious option.
These buffalo chicken bites have all the flavor of your favorite game day snack with fewer calories and less saturated fat and sodium. They are simple to make, and the recipe can easily be doubled to feed a larger crowd.
This recipe combines roasted vegetables with chickpeas and extra virgin olive oil to create a dip that provides protein, heart-healthy fat, and vitamins. Use it for dipping vegetables, as a spread for whole grain crackers, or as a filling for vegetarian sandwiches.
When you recreate your favorite fast foods at home, you can enjoy a similar meal with fewer calories and less saturated fat and sodium. These chicken nuggets are coated in seasoned bread crumbs and baked until crispy. Serve them as a main course or as an easy party snack.
This dip allows you to serve a healthier option at parties. It is loaded with beans that provide plant-based protein and fiber. The nuts and olive oil add heart-healthy fats. Serve with whole grain crackers or vegetables.
The winter squash in these quesadillas provides a savory way to eat this seasonal vegetable while supplying 90 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A. You can use canned pumpkin, roasted winter squash puree, or sweet potatoes.
Zucchini and other summer squashes are antioxidant-rich and provide copper, manganese, potassium, folate, and fiber. In this recipe, zucchini sticks are coated in bread crumbs and baked until crunchy for a healthy snack or side dish.
Traditional chicken salads are often loaded with mayonnaise, but this recipe uses Greek yogurt and brown mustard to reduce the fat and calories without sacrificing flavor. Wrap it with crunchy lettuce leaves to create a meal with fewer calories and carbohydrates than traditional chicken salad.
This easy bean dip is loaded with black beans for protein and fiber. Ricotta cheese adds more protein and makes it creamy without the need for high-fat sour cream. It’s topped off with just a little shredded cheddar to add more flavor. While it goes well with baked tortilla chips, it's also great with sliced vegetables like carrots, celery and cucumbers.
Egg rolls always go over well as a party snack or an appetizer, but meat fillings and deep frying increases the calories and unhealthy fat. These egg rolls are filled with healthy root and cruciferous vegetables, and then baked until golden brown. Serve them with your favorite sauce for dipping, like plum sauce or sriracha.
A stuffed potato is a delicious option for healthy comfort food. Potatoes contain potassium, vitamin C, and B vitamins. This baked potato is topped with a creamy filling that resembles spinach and artichoke dip. It makes an easy vegetarian meal that comes together in minutes.
A poor body image gets in the way of reaching fitness goals. Whether it’s the appearance of wrinkles or the lack of six-pack abs, when you focus on minor imperfections, it lowers your self-confidence. Identifying what causes this poor body image is the first step to accepting and appreciating who you are.
You Spend Too Much Time on Social Media
Take note of the types of social media accounts you follow. You may be subjecting yourself to unrealistic standards for beauty, which may affect how your think of yourself. We were once only exposed to this when watching television or reading magazines, but social media increases how often we see these unrealistic images. Follow accounts that motivate you, and unfollow those that leave you feeling less than perfect.
You Are Stuck in the Past
Past failures can cause you to feel as though you will never succeed. Not fitting into your ideal dress size by your wedding or dropping out of a distance race can be difficult to get over. Remind yourself that you are not the same person you were then. Your body isn’t the same either, and this isn’t a bad thing. It may respond to exercises differently than it did, which can lead to more adventurous and enjoyable activities. Today, you are ready both mentally and physically to accomplish your goals.
You Have Unrealistic Goals
Everyone has a unique body shape. There may be areas of your body that will never look exactly the way you would like. Stop comparing yourself to others, and focus on being the healthiest you can be. As you reach your fitness goals, you will grow to love those areas of your body that may once have seemed imperfect.
You Surround Yourself with Unsupportive People
The people around you have a strong influence on your attitude. Negativity spreads easily. Those who put their bodies down or make negative comments about your body will cause you to do the same. Surround yourself with peers who maintain a positive outlook and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments.
Self-care is any action you take to improve your mental or physical health. It is a form of stress management that includes everything from a 5-minute reading break to a 5-day vacation.
How does self-care influence health?
Self-care is often viewed as pampering, but it is an essential part of your well-being. When we don’t take care of ourselves, it is more difficult to manage responsibilities. Feeling overworked increases stress, reduces productivity, and puts a strain on relationships. Simple acts of self-care can improve your focus and positively influence how you interact with others.
Tips for better self-care
Self-care should not be forced. The activities should make you feel refreshed, energetic, and motivated. Find what works for you. While some may feel better after a 30-minute run, you might enjoy a hike, a massage, or reading a novel instead.
Choose activities that you can do right away. If you put it off or make promises to do it later, you may never find the time to do it. Choose an activity you can do the moment stress begins to build. For example, if you can’t leave the office for a walk, shut the door, and stretch for 10 minutes.
Make it simple. Self-care doesn’t have to be lengthy or expensive. Prepare a cup of hot tea. Take a 20-minute nap. Perform strength exercises for 10 minutes. Set the timer and read a novel for 15 minutes.
Unplug. You might underestimate the influence screen time has on your health until you take a break from it. Emails and social media notifications keep you on edge with the constant need to be accessible and responsive. Avoid associating your self-care activities with screen time. Instead, set time limits for when you’ll check email, or turn off all devices while you read.
Goals are an important part of adopting a healthier lifestyle, because they help us measure our progress. By breaking down your goals into manageable steps, you can stay motivated and set achievable goals.
Start by thinking long term.
What would you like to accomplish this year? Maybe you want to be 30 pounds lighter, run your first half marathon, or get off blood pressure medication. Make a list of everything you can think of. You will use this list to create short-term goals.
Identify what is most important right now.
Make a short list of health priorities. What must change immediately? Maybe your doctor has said you are prehypertensive, and you need to lower your blood pressure. Perhaps you have an old injury that needs to heal and strengthen before you can start a training program. Your stress levels might be through the roof, and you need to exercise and meditate to control the effect this stress has on your health. Write down your top two priorities for the month.
Consider how your goals are related.
We often overlook how closely related our goals can be. Most changes in one area of health will also improve another area. For example, if you begin training for a half marathon and you are currently overweight, the extra calories burned through more activity will help you drop pounds. Improving your nutrition by eating more plant-based foods can also help lower cholesterol levels. If a goal like losing 50 pounds feels overwhelming, take your focus off the scale, and concentrate on other changes that will influence this long-term challenge. Setting small goals to cook more at home, switching from soda to water, or taking lessons to learn a new sport will all influence your body weight in a positive way. Weight loss then becomes more natural and won’t feel like hard work.
Set regular short-term goals.
Once you’ve identified your long-term goals and health priorities, begin to outline your short-term goals. During the first month, set two goals per week. These goals should be related to your health priorities. Choose goals that motivate you to change your daily habits but that are achievable. You don’t need to go from no exercise to hitting the gym six times a week. Getting there three times the first week might be a more achievable goal. Set two new goals each week, and then build on the goals you’ve already accomplished. For example, if you used to put three teaspoons of sugar in your morning coffee, and last week you used two teaspoons, this week try using only one teaspoon.
These minor adjustments may seem insignificant, but the gradual changes will be less of a shock and will prevent burnout. A more gradual method leads to lifestyle changes that are permanent. For example, in a month your tastebuds can adjust to having only ¼ teaspoon of sugar in your coffee, cutting 44 calories every morning. These small savings add up over time to improve your health and initiate weight loss. Of course, it will take more than changing your morning coffee to lose weight, but by tackling the small things, you will gain confidence to face bigger challenges down the road.
Regularly re-evaluate your goals.
Don’t stick with a goal that makes you miserable. If you thought you wanted to run distance races only to begin training and find you dislike every workout, set a new goal. There are plenty of activities that can keep you fit. Choose one you enjoy. The same goes for healthy eating. Not everyone has to love kale and broccoli. If you are trying to increase your vegetable intake, experiment with vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and mustard greens until you find foods and ways of preparing them that appeal to you.