Date: 11 June
As I've mentioned before, I am not a sporty girl. When my friends get excited about sports, running, and other physical activities (such as ice skating - I'm looking at you, Sherin!) I prefer to sit on the sidelines. Luckily, I've always had a slim frame and felt I didn't need to exercise to stay fit, but of course I was wrong: even naturally slim girls still need to maintain a healthy lifestyle! I recently had a reality check - first of all, I put on quite a lot of weight (8 kgs!) during my last year of university, and secondly, when I began trying to lose the weight, I realised to my dismay that I really wasn't as fit as I should be.
So girls, what to do? Does the thought of exercise repulse you; do you love snacking between meals? Fear not - there is no need to spend an hour in the gym every day or cut out carbohydrates from your diet in order to get fit or shed a few kilos!
Here are some quick and easy lifestyle changes you can make to help you live more healthily. Pledge to start being healthier today!
Drink more water.
I have never been in the habit of drinking water regularly, and used to drink a maximum of two glasses
of water every day! Appalling, I know. But drinking more water is actually easier than you may think. All you need to do is carry around a water bottle. Don't try to drink it all at once; take little sips throughout the day and you will be surprised as to how easy it is to drink more water! Check out this article to help you drink more.
What's so great about drinking water? It's good for your skin, it helps you lose weight (no calories, plus it acts as an appetite suppressant), it flushes out the toxins from your body, it helps with digestion, and more! This is the easiest change you can make to your lifestyle, and you can start immediately.
Keep a food diary.
You may think there is nothing wrong with your diet, but writing down what you eat can prove you wrong. Sometimes you just don't notice that you are eating that odd piece of chocolate, a couple of biscuits, or a small packet of crisps. If you write it all down, you will be able to plainly see what you are eating and it may help you cut out unnecessary, unhealthy parts of your diet. Also, if you aren't used to drinking lots of water, you should write down how much you are drinking per day. I love the water function on SparkPeople - it really motivates you to drink more so you can watch that cup fill up!
Eat healthier snacks
I love snacking in between meals. I especially love to snack on something when I'm settling down with a good book! It's okay to eat small bits throughout the day - in fact, it helps stimulate your metabolism, and many nutritionists recommend eating 5 small meals per day - but try to swap unhealthy options for food that's good for you and tastes yummy. Nuts, greek yogurt with honey, fruits, carrots or cucumbers, and salad, are all tasty and satisfying and much healthier than crisps and sweets.
Eat a proper breakfast
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper: the age-old expression still rings true. Wake up 20 minutes earlier if you have to and make time for a good, healthy breakfast - it will give you energy throughout the day and is one of the healthiest changes you can make to your lifestyle. My favorite breakfast options: oatmeal with cinnamon, honey on brown toast, cereal, eggs (a boiled egg mashed with mustard and eaten with bread is healthier than fried eggs or omlettes!) ... the options are endless. Also, try to swap out coffee and black tea for green tea - sweeten it with honey and add lemon (it helps your body absorb the antioxidants). I like to add a pinch of cinnamon to my daily cup of green tea, too. You will get used to the taste, and it's very good for you - plus it has much less caffeine than coffee and it is so good for you. Not convinced? Read this article on the benefits of green tea.
Move your body
Uh oh... the part that you must have been dreading, if you are anything like me! But I firmly believe that there is at least one form of exercise that everyone can enjoy. Exercise doesn't have to mean playing sports or going for a run! It can mean going for a walk with your best friend/mum/dog, getting off one bus stop or train station early and walking the rest of the way, parking your car further away than necessary and walking to your destination, using the stairs instead of the lift - anything that gets you to move more than you are used to. Try to incorporate some stretching into your exercise routine, as well - touch your toes, stretch your arms and legs out, twist your torso! Check out this article and this article for some ideas.
My personal favorite type of exercise is yoga. You don't have to join a class if it doesn't fit into your busy lifestyle; I have tried many types and I have always loved Richard Hittleman's 28-day Exercise Plan. You can do it by yourself and you really do feel a change within your body in a short amount of time. If this doesn't work for you, why not try a DVD? I've tried Pilates, bellydancing, and yoga DVDs; it's fun to mix it up and try new things!
Also, I recently bought a mini trampoline. Bouncing on it is so much fun! I keep it in my bedroom, and if I am watching television, I get up during the ad breaks and bounce for 5 minutes at a time (although of course you can do it for longer periods, too!) It just keeps the body moving during something that may otherwise keep you confined to one place.
Get a good night's sleep
Don't underestimate the power of sleep. I recently read that some ladies took part in a study where all they had to do was increase their sleeping time to at least 7.5 hours each night, and without making any changes to their diet or exercise patterns, they all lost weight! Some people need more sleep than others, but if you are getting less than 7.5 hours every night, this needs to change. The average sleep needed per night is 8.5 hours - I like to sleep for around 9! If this means you need to sleep an hour or two earlier every night, do it. You will feel much more refreshed, alert, and happy once you start sleeping more. Also, try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. I know this can be hard, but your body should establish a regular body clock.
Eat fresh, homemade food.
I know it's not always possible for those of us who live busy lifestyles to cook fresh food every day, but do try. Remember that anything you put in (or on!) your body is absorbed by it; do you really want all those preservatives in your blood stream?
Need proof that ready-meals and restaurants aren't good for you? Over a year ago, I decided that I didn't have time to cook and would only eat prepared food. After doing so for a week, I noticed that my hair started to fall out in chunks! After the second week, my hair was still falling out and I felt drained, weak, and sleepy all the time. I started cooking for myself again and my body started to heal very quickly. Of course it's okay to eat out as a treat once in a while, but I would recommend that you stay completely away from microwave/ready meals, and limit your intake of food that comes from boxes, tins, and cans.
Fresh food is healthier, cheaper, and tastier! Yes, it does require a smidgen more preparation time, but I promise you, your body will thank you for it. If you really hate cooking, make a pact with your roommates/family/friends to eat at least one (or more) meals together every day. You can cook together, eat together, and clean up together - it makes the whole process much more enjoyable!
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So, lazy girls! No more excuses. Drink more water, watch what you eat, move your body, and get a good night's sleep - so simple, and so good for you!
This wasn't at all an extensive guide, and I am no expert, so please add your easy health tips below!
P.S. The best thing you can do for your body shape is to embrace it, love it, and treat it well.