We’re now more than a week into the new year, so I ask: how many of you have already failed at your resolution of living a fitter and healthier lifestyle in 2018?
There’s no shame in case you’ve given in and to that chocolate chip cookie or choco molten lava cake. There are temptations all around us, and completing these fad diets or body transforming-workout programs is easier said than done.
The good news is that in order to be healthier and fit, you don’t have to make drastic alterations to your lifestyle. Some of the secrets to trimming those unwanted pounds and feeling better about yourself when you look at the mirror involves little changes that can go a long way.
I am by no means a fitness expert. No, I do not have six-pack abs – chances are I never will due to my intense infatuation with food. But I can say that I’ve remained in relatively good/passable shape by following some simple guidelines over the years.
It’s important to note that if you want a body that will land you on a Bench billboard, this isn’t the article to help you get there. But if you follow some of these steps (hopefully all of them), I can guarantee you will see improvements.
In no particular order:
Make the shift to brown
There’s not that big a difference with the carbohydrate content between white and brown rice, but the latter contains more fiber and nutrients that are better suited for your body long term. According to this website, brown rice has: twice the manganese as white rice, two and a half times the iron, three times the vitamin B3, four times the vitamin B1, and 10 times the vitamin B6.
The main benefit, personally, of having brown rice instead of white is that it keeps me full for a longer period of time, which prevents me from taking on more calories throughout the day. The same principle applies for having whole wheat bread and pasta compared to their counterparts.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can have brown rice four times in a day. It’s best to limit rice intake to one cup in a 24-hour span, and to avoid it altogether for dinner.
Add vegetables to your meal
Once upon a time, the thought of eating veggies with every meal made me do a weird face. Today, I need to have vegetables in almost everything I eat.
Vegetables are what people like to call high-volume, low-calorie food. It’s one of the secrets to keeping your tummy filled up during the day while gaining very minimal weight. By adding veggies like broccoli, zucchini, or asparagus to your lunchtime meals, you’d be surprised how you can go hours before having your afternoon snack.
Here’s a pro-tip on how to utilize your greens to lose weight: instead of filling up your plate/baon container with equal portions of meat/ulam and rice, separate it into two categories: the meat/ulam, then a mix of rice/whatever form of carbs you prefer and vegetables.
If you need a form of sauce to make swallowing down your vegetables easier, apply Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce. It has 0 carbs and 0 fat!
Remember: grill your meat, don’t fry it!
Have your coffee black
Dairy is one of the most weight-gaining things you can put in your stomach. Even low-fat milk still consists of a certain amount of carbohydrates which makes losing weight more difficult.
If you need coffee daily to survive, I don’t blame you. I’m absolutely the same. But drinking multiple cups of caffeine with milk a day can have negative effects on your health. Try switching to black coffee, and add Splenda as your sweetener to save on the calories.
Carry a jug of water around with you
Drinking a lot of water has many benefits. For starters, it improves skin complexion, flushes out toxins, increases energy, boosts the immune system, and many others.
It also helps you lose weight. By drinking a lot of H2O, you speed up your metabolism and it keeps you full in order to avoid unnecessary calories. Unfortunately, many forget to hit their quota of water in a day. That’s why it’s important to carry a jug of water around to stay hydrated and to keep your metabolism at a good rate.
Slowly integrate exercising in your daily routine
The secret to establishing the habit of consistently working out is to incorporate it into your daily life slowly and surely. This holds especially true for those who have no prior experience of constant exercise and would like to improve their health.
How do you do this? Here’s a model to follow: you can start off by doing 15 minutes a day in the first week, going up to 20 in the second week, 25 in the third, and so on. By gradually increasing the length, you ease your body into the physical grind. At a certain point, it might seem like a drag, but it will be worth it for the long run.
Also, cardio doesn’t have to be limited to running around your neighborhood every night. There are different types, and you can change how you exercise every now and then according to what’s most fun. Tired of going for jogs? Switch it up to cycling, boxing, swimming, basketball, football, etc.
Tip: lifting weights will also help you get lean. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is.
Don’t stop having junk, but make sure to limit yourself
Living healthy doesn’t have to mean abstaining from food that’s obviously not good for you. I get it when people say they need to have their weekly dose of fast food. God knows what would happen to me if I couldn’t.
But it is important to put a limit to how often you put sweets/fast food/alcohol/etc in your body. For example, I like allowing myself to have sweets after dinner two times a week. By doing so, I have something to look forward to as a reward for my exercising.
Being fit doesn’t always mean having to torture yourself. You want to down beers with your friends? That’s fine! Just make sure you keep yourself limited to a few times a week and not do it every evening. Like having those few glasses of wine? How about do it only on the weekends?
Take time to educate yourself
Something as simple as reading the labels of the food you’re going to consume can go a long way in saving you unwanted calories. For instance, do you know a pack of crackers already consists of 16g of carbs? Or that some cooking oils have 15g of fat per serving, while others have 0?
The website MyFitnessPal.com can also help give you the nutritional count of meals you order outside home. A simple search might seem like a small step, but it helps in the larger picture.
Take care of yourself
Looking out for yourself in other areas can go a long way in determining how healthy and fit you are. The most important one? Sleep. Get those eight hours daily. Also avoid stress, which increases your amount of cortisol that increases appetite.
The better you feel about other areas in your life – work, relationships, hobbies – the more you’ll be headstrong in your goal of becoming healthier and fit.
Got any more suggestions? Share them with us below!