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I don’t know about you, but all of the “noise” surrounding healthy habits makes my head spin.
From news headlines to Instagram posts to Facebook ads to Pinterest infographics, recommendations for achieving optimal wellness are both abundant and paralyzing!
Because of this, the admirable goal of “getting healthy” can feel too overwhelming. For that reason, many of us simply give up altogether or put it off to a later date.
Fear not! I was once in your exact same shoes.
My main goals were to 1) lose weight, 2) have more energy, and 3) adopt only the simplest habits that would lead to monumental results.
Call me unrealistic, but I refused to settle until I achieved all three—simultaneously! I vowed to find these simple, holy-grail habits that would lead to weight loss and increased energy.
At the start of my quest, I thought I’d need to double down on eating less and exercising more, but I ended up being completely wrong about that! (Click here to read more about this in my former post “Exercise For Weight Loss: Does It Work?”)
After listening to countless podcasts, sifting through the aforementioned “noise,” researching the results of many so-called “healthy habits,” and implementing small changes into my own life, I did it! I achieved my goals!
In the process, I identified 3 healthy habits that can help you do the same!
Read on to learn bang-for-your-buck habits that’ll jump start your journey to weight loss, increased energy, and overall optimal health!
Habit #1: Avoid refined, added, and fake sugars.
Added sugar is everywhere, even in the most unsuspecting foods. Yes, sugar makes food/beverages taste great, but it’s not doing your waistline or energy level any favors.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was eating waaaaay too much sugar each day. The worst part? It was hidden in foods I thought were healthy! (Click here to read a post where I tallied my daily sugar intake. Warning: It’s not pretty!)
Are you currently eating too much refined, added, and fake sugar?
Here are the usual food culprits:
- Flavored yogurts
- Flavored oatmeals
- Energy bars
- Items labeled “low-fat,” “heart-healthy,” “whole-grain,” etc. Don’t fall for those traps!
- Frozen meals
- Trail mixes
And now for common drink culprits:
- All sodas (even diet and “Zero” forms because “artificial sweeteners . . . encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence”)
- Some electrolyte drinks
- Sweetened teas
- Fruit juices
- Flavored waters
- Some supposedly healthy “green” drinks, kombuchas, etc.
There are obviously other sugar bombs besides the items listed above, so keep your peepers peeped!
According to Healthline.com, high sugar consumption may increase your risk for all of the following:
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
- Accelerated skin aging
- Cellular aging
- Low energy
- Fatty liver
- Kidney disease
- Poor dental health
- Cognitive decline
Consider this fact: In 1822, the average American consumed around 45 grams of sugar (the amount found in one 12-oz soda) every five days. As of 2012, the average American was consuming about 765 grams every five days.
Doctors, researchers, and nutritionists all agree that we should eat 6-9 teaspoons (24-36 grams) of sugar max each day; eating less is obviously better. (For reference, 1 teaspoon = 4 grams.)
And, when you do consume sugar, it’s best to eat in natural forms⎯like fruit!⎯not in processed foods.
Don’t go crazy with the fruit, though! Think of fruit as “nature’s candy”; it can negatively affect your blood sugar levels just as much as refined sugar if you consume too much, so stick to the low-sugar varieties.
Action step: Check the sugar content of any packaged item/beverage before you eat/drink it. Ideally, consume as little refined sugar as possible (fewer than 10g/day).
Habit #2: Limit your consumption of packaged/processed foods.
So, most packaged food is really just a combo of additives and ingredients that are made to taste like real food; processed food is not real food.
Food conglomerates aren’t stupid. They’ve perfected the the salt-sugar-fat ratio in packaged foods to make your taste buds water and crave more!
Clean, whole foods—like vegetables, fruit (but again, not too much fruit ’cause it’s sugary!), nuts, seeds, full-fat cheese, plain yogurt, eggs, and meat—are nutrient-dense. Processed, fake foods are nutrient-poor.
Your body loves the vitamins and minerals in whole foods, so it’ll perform way better in all areas when you prioritize those.
Here’s a helpful trick: As you take things off grocery store shelves, ask yourself, “Would my great great great grandmother recognize this?” If your answer is “no,” don’t make a habit of buying/eating it!
Action step: Cook/prep your own breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners using whole ingredients.
Action step BONUS: Save $$$$$ when you buy whole foods because the processed crap is pricey!
Here are some whole-food breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas to get you started. Mix ‘n match ’em!
- Eggs (any way you want, as long as you include the yolks! Find my recipe for perfect hard-boiled eggs here.)
- Plain, full-fat dairy (if you tolerate it)
- Roasted/raw vegetables (find my recipe for roasted veggies here)
- Wild rice (find my recipe here)
- Nuts and seeds
- Meat sticks or beef jerky
- Egg/tuna/chicken/salmon salad (find my recipe here)
- Green smoothies (find my recipe here)
- Overnight oat + chia pudding (find my recipe here)
I’m no chef, but I quickly and easily make all of the above on a regular basis.
Still feel self-conscious about your cooking abilities? Read this: “Think You Can’t Cook? Think Again! 7 Tips From A Non-Chef”
Habit #3: Prioritize high-quality sleep.
We can’t continue our discussion of healthy habits without chatting about SLEEP.
This Healthline.com article summarizes the 10 reasons sleep is important:
- Poor sleep can make you fat.
- Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories.
- Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity.
- Good sleep can maximize athletic performance.
- Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Sleep affects glucose metabolism and type II diabetes risk.
- Poor sleep is linked to depression.
- Sleep improves your immune function.
- Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation.
- Sleep affects emotions and social interactions.
I bolded #1 because HOLY COW! A lack of sleep can actually increase weight gain. Yikes.
Imagine your brain = dirty clothes. (Stay with me here!) To clean clothes, you throw ’em in the washing machine; in order for ’em to get fully clean, they must complete the entire wash cycle. For your brain to fully clean itself, it needs at least 7-8 hours of high-quality sleep each night. When you get fewer than 7-8 hours (minimum!) or if your sleep quality is poor, it’s like taking the clothes (or your brain) out of the washing machine before they’re clean. If this happens night after night, your brain can never fully wash itself.
That’s why SLEEP. IS. SO. IMPORTANT. Believe it or not, the sleep decisions you make tonight can affect your life for days, months, and even years.
In the same way that “clean eating” is critical, “clean sleep” is also vital.
One step towards cleaner sleep is recognizing the negative effect your phone can have on your slumber: “Cell phones emit radiofrequency radiation (radio waves), a form of non-ionizing radiation, from their antennas. Parts of the body nearest to the antenna can absorb this energy.” These radio waves may also impact the quality of your sleep.
- Make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Put your phone (and other screens) to sleep at least an hour before you put yourself to bed. Don’t cheat!
- While sleeping, switch your phone to “airplane” mode so that you’re not disturbed by sounds, vibrations, and radio waves. Give your brain the best possible chance to fully clean itself!
Bottom line: “Getting healthy” doesn’t need to feel overwhelming. Jump start your wellness journey by incorporating these bang-for-your-buck healthy habits into your life ASAP!
Thoughts? Questions? Please share below!
⇒ Ready to ditch fad diets and health myths forever? I provide expert coaching through a foolproof formula: self-awareness + sustainable habits + simple swaps = lifelong WELLth! Click here to learn more!
⇒ To optimize every aspect of your health, visit My Favorite Things! There, you’ll find links to healthy packaged foods, toxin-free products, and overall wellness boosters.
⇒ Like this post? Then you’ll LOVE these!
- “Are You Doing The 10 Things That Can Prolong Your Healthspan?”
- “Hidden Sugar: You’re Probably Eating More Than You Think!”
- “Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil: Which Is Healthiest?”
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