As a Naturopathic Doctor, I get the opportunity to meet so many different types of people. Those that are super fit, those that are healthy - meaning they maintain a healthy weight, have no health concerns and have great energy (and yes those two types are different... I will explain later) and those that have health concerns and want to improve their health.
What I have noticed is that there is one thing that stands out with those that are healthy and the rest. And that #1 thing is....routine.
Very often the people that are super fit are doing it for a time. They are on a special program - either a very intense exercise program or an intense diet or a combination of diet and exercise. There is a start and an end date to their regime. Or it's a program that is not sustainable long term. It may be too restrictive or it's easy to fall off the wagon.
What I have noticed is that the people who are healthy - have great energy, no health complaints and are a good weight is that they have a routine. When you look at their diet, they eat regularly and they are pretty consistent with what they eat. They are also consistent with exercise but most important with movement. So they don't decide for the next 30 days they will take the stairs, they just always take the stairs.
What I also notice with the people who are want to be healthy is that they plan a time to start. "I will start on Mon/beginning of the month/start of the year." Instead of just doing and being, they plan to start. Whereas the people who are generally healthy are just doing it as part of their routine... not as something that will be started at a set date and time.
So what can you do to make healthy choices part of your routine? Here are some suggestions.
1. Remember, every meal is a new chance to make a healthy choice. If you have an unhealthy lunch, don't wait until tomorrow or next Monday or next month to start again. Instead, just make a healthier choice at your next meal.
2. Eat regularly. Healthy people eat frequently. This keeps their blood sugar regulated and cravings down.
3. Forget about that special diet. Chances are when you go on a special diet, you think about all the foods you can't have and then you crave them deciding that when you stop the diet you can have them again. So forget the diet. If you feel like chocolate - choose a nice quality chocolate and enjoy.
4. Move. Studies have shown that movement plays an important role in metabolism and general health (heart health and lower risk of diabetes) than intense exercise for shorter periods of time. So where you can, go for a walk. Walk the dog, take the stairs, park further away, do the gardening, clean the house.
5. Enjoy your fats. Forget about fat free. Studies have shown that eating fats (especially plant fats) reduce cravings for sweets, improve the quality of your cells and hormones and improve your metabolism. Just be wise with your choice of fats. Avocados, chia seeds, hemp hearts, nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil are wonderful examples.
6. Choose wholesome foods over processed foods. When you eat a plant based wholesome diet, you are getting the nutrients you need to nourish your body, instead of just the calories you need to sustain living. Healthy people eat like this most of the time. So if a situation presents itself such as a birthday party (for exp.) where you have unhealthy foods, then enjoy and make a healthy choice at your next meal.
7. Write it out. Plan to eat. Preparation is key. Print off the daily meal planner here and write out what you ate today. Highlight the fruit in yellow, the veg in green and be honest. You will be able to see for yourself what your diet really looks like. Then plan your next few meals.
8. Drink water. This is another habit that healthy people do. They don't plan to quit beer or pop or wine. They just make sure they mostly drink water and they drink throughout the day.
9. As I mentioned above. Healthy people have a routine. In addition to eating regularly and pretty much eating the same things, they also have a great sleep routine. They generally go to bed by 10 and wake about 6. Sleep restores! Sleep supports the adrenals which balances hormones and cortisol levels.
10. Find something you enjoy and do it. Healthy people take time to do something they enjoy. This is generally something simple like gardening, walking the dog, playing the piano, reading a book, writing. This manages stress levels. They enjoy life and even when things become stressful they have something they enjoy to look forward to.
Start incorporating these into your daily routine until they become just that.. part of your daily routine.
Dr. Simone Burke, N.D. (Naturopathic Doctor)