7 Little Changes That Make a Big Difference in Your Health

7 little changes that make a big difference in your health
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Have you ever heard the saying that it takes 21 Days to create a habit? Well here we are, 22 days into 2014- how have you done with your new years goals so far?

Don’t worry if you haven’t been perfect, change is hard- especially lifestyle change. In their book Switch, the Heath brothers discuss the situation of the “rider” and the “elephant” to explain why it is so hard for us to make lasting change in our lives.

7 baby steps to health and weight loss_ rider vs. elephant

The “rider” is our logical self, our highly evolved and logical brain. The part of us that is responsible for deciding that we should lose weight/go to the gym/ go to bed on time, etc. The elephant on the other hand is the less evolved portion of our brain. The elephant in us is very emotional and likes to be comfortable. It is the part of us responsible for not doing what we know we should do. Imagine a rider sitting on top of an elephant. The rider is holding the reins, and for the most part is able to control the elephant. This is our willpower- and if things are going our way, this is sufficient.

But willpower is limited. And if the elephant decides is wants something different from the rider, the elephant wins every time- hands down.

The authors argue that we need to motivate both the rider and the elephant in order to create lasting change. Extreme changes [think: the Biggest Loser contest], will produce results- but more often than not they fail in the long term because they rely on willpower alone. Instead of extreme diets or exercise routines, we need to make changes so slowly that they become automatic.

Below I suggest 7 small changes you can make that will ultimately lead to improved health and weight loss (if you have weight to lose). If you are overwhelmed by a health goal, take a look at the list and pick 1 to work on. When this behavior becomes effortless, (i.e. you’ve been 100% compliant for 2 weeks or more) pick another one to tackle. These habits are the foundation for long term weight loss and health. If you take this approach you will have made all these changes permanent by May and will be much more likely to maintain your results than if you had gone on a diet.

Start with the easiest task first. Get a “win” under your belt before moving on to the next. The progress will be slow, but it will be consistent. If you haven’t mastered the easiest item on this list- it’s not time to move onto the next. Master the basics first. Don’t take 1 step forward to take 2 steps back. Take change one step at a time and you will win in the long run.

7 Baby Steps to Health & Weight Loss

  1. Take a Multivitamin & 2 Fish Oil capsules daily (unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor). In his book Ultrametabolism, Dr. Mark Hyman explains that over 90% of Americans have at least 1 nutrient deficiency. There are many reasons for this, but it is pretty safe to assume you are part of the 90%. Cover your nutritional bases by taking a multivitamin and fish oil EVERYDAY without fail.
  2. Drink only water, and at least 8 tall glasses per day. We lose 2 liters of water everyday through normal processes like excretion, respiration, and perspiration. Caffeinated beverages will dehydrate our bodies even further. Dehydration slows your metabolism and depletes your energy, so drink up!
  3. Sleep at least 7 hours per night, every night. Sleep is essential for our bodies to repair and directly impacts our energy, hormones and metabolism.
  4. Eat breakfast. This will stimulate your metabolism and decreases the likelihood of a food binge later in the day. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
  5. Eat vegetables 3 times per day. Vegetables fill us up and provide our bodies with vitamins and nutrients that are essential for our health.
  6. Eat Protein at every meal and snack (20-30g at least). This will stimulate your metabolism and reduce cravings for carbohydrates.
  7. Exercise daily. This doesn’t have to be done at the gym, but make sure you move as much as possible. Take the stairs, walk the dog, and go to the gym when you can. Pedometers are a great tool, and are now available for free on your smartphone [fitbit for example]. Accumulate 10,000 steps or more every day.

These habits are simple. And you’re probably thinking “I know this,” but it’s not what you know, it’s what you actually do that counts.

Start easy- 1 habit at a time and make 2014 your healthiest year yet.

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How to Develop Better Self Discipline

self-discipline
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I took my first yoga class is 2005. I was miserable! I was out of shape, and had just started exercising again. Because of my dance background I always considered myself to be pretty flexible but going to yoga was like a slap in the face. The instructor kept adjusting me and telling me I was doing the pose wrong, my muscles were screaming and I was so aggravated that the “old people” in my class could do more than I could….But I stuck it out. After all, it would be rude to leave in the middle of the class…Then a funny thing happened, I felt amazing! I couldn’t believe I made it through the class. So I went to the next class and the next. It wasn’t that I loved yoga per se, but I loved how it made me feel. I felt accomplished.

That’s the thing about self discipline, it never feels good in the moment but it is ALWAYS worth it. Fast forward to 2014 yoga and exercise are a staple of my daily routine and are nearly effortless. But it would have never happened if I haven’t stuck with it.

Successful people have the self-discipline to do things they don’t want to do and they do them even when they don’t feel like it. Rory Vaden- Take the Stairs

It’s funny how we lie to ourselves about what will make us happy. We tell ourselves that instant gratification like eating extra dessert, buying something on a credit card or skipping our workouts will make us feel better. In the short term they may, but what’s the true cost to these bad decisions over and over? Are endless indulgences worth costing you your future? Make no mistake about it- healthy people workout and eat mindfully, wealthy people work smart and save more than they spend, and happy people invest time in their relationships. There is no short cut to success, and telling yourself anything different will only hurt you in the long run.

5 Things to Remember When You Feel Like Giving In

  1. You will never regret doing something, you will always regret skipping it. Have you ever actually regretted going to the gym? Have you ever regretting skipping dessert? Regret sucks, is it really worth it?
  2. How you do something is how you do everything. Self disciple is something that follows us through all aspects of our lives. Cheating yourself in one area will only self you up to cut corners in other areas. Again, is it worth your future?
  3. You can always take the intensity down, but you must keep doing something. Aiming for perfection is a great way to set yourself up for failure. Smaller, more consistent steps in the right direction are better than aiming for something that is impossible for you to maintain in the long run. Start small.
  4. Change only gets harder if you give up or give in. Your habits will make or break you and the longer you keep your bad habits in place, the harder they will be to change. You cannot go back and change the past, but you can start now and do the best you can. It’s your choice.
  5. Nothing in life is free, there is a price to pay for everything you want. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that everyone else has it easier. There is always a price to pay for what you want in life and no one achieves long term success without paying it. There are no quick fixes, decide what you want- decide what you need to get there and do it.

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