Sunday 16 June 2019

Seven days, seven changes: A week’s worth of easy tweaks to kickstart a healthier life

Ideally, you should be eating every three hours with three meals and two healthy snacks in-between, like some fresh fruit with nuts. Stock Image
Ideally, you should be eating every three hours with three meals and two healthy snacks in-between, like some fresh fruit with nuts. Stock Image
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

Health can be so scary, daunting, and unattainable that sometimes you can't see how to start, what to do first or where to go next.

That feeling of helplessness is a common thing. I see it all the time with clients when they come in for their initial meeting.

That fear is stopping people from getting on the road to a healthier life. What's more, with so many different, conflicting messages out there, people are simply confused. It's no wonder they're frightened.

In today's column, I thought I would give you seven different mini daily challenges to help you get healthy.

That's one each day for a whole week. Simply cut out the column and put a line through each day when you are done.

You see, small changes add up to something bigger. If you can make changes so small that they really don't make you alter your day too much, then it will be so much easier to keep going. And you'll learn something each day as you go along.

So take me up on my challenge, try these seven simple changes, one per day and see what happens.

Day 1 Let's measure your progress

The more regularly you measure your progress in any way, shape or form, the more likely you will be to stay on track. Pick one or more of the measurements mentioned below to focus on and off we go! Here are some examples of what some of my clients use:

  • Weight l Inches, especially waistline
  • Sleep quality
  • TV time each day
  • 5/10k walk times
  • Water intake
  • Time spent away from technology
  • Steps
  • Heart rate

Day 2 Eat more slowly

This is one of the easiest solutions. If you slow down your eating, you will feel full more quickly. The brain takes around 20 minutes to register a feeling of fullness and by that time you have already over-eaten. So, ideally, put down your knife and fork in between each bite and chew your food.

If you still eat too fast, then try using chopsticks to eat with. What sounds silly will actually force you to eat more slowly and chew smaller portions of food, meaning that your stomach has less work to do, you digest your food better and you will dramatically improve your digestion.

Day 3 Let's stand

Standing more can help you to improve your muscle tone, your posture, your core, your blood flow and help to speed up your metabolism. What's not to love about all that?

But what about the pain of standing more - won't it hurt? Well, if you try to stand all day tomorrow, then yes, of course it will. But like anything, if you ease into it and build up gradually, then you will get stronger and more capable.

No matter when, where or how long you stand for, there is a lot of evidence to promote the benefits of standing more. At home, at work, in school or in college, when travelling - basically standing up will help to get the body working harder and more efficiently.

In terms of work, why not try breaking up the day sitting with movement at regular intervals. Probably the most effective and easiest way to do it is why not aim to stand for 30 minutes each hour, or 15 minutes every hour if that seems too much. Remember, stand more and sit less for better health.

Day 4 Fill up on your vegetables

Filling up your plate with vegetables as opposed to a rice/pasta/noodles is a great way to make your meal healthy. Vegetables contain the best type of carbohydrates you can get, as well as minerals and vitamins. They are certainly healthier than the processed carbs that are refined of much of their nutrients.

They will fill you up, are fantastic for your stomach health and for your digestion. Certain vegetables may not agree with you and cause bloating etc, but you will know pretty quickly. Protein and vegetables are the perfect meal so make this simple switch and get colourful vegetables on to that plate.

Day 5 Use the stairs only

Ditch the lifts and escalators today and commit to only using the stairs in work or even if you are in town. Making exercise a part of your daily routine is a crucial way to ensure you are doing your very best to kickstart a healthier life.

Day 6 Drink more water

All you have to do today is drink more water. Ideally you are looking at two to three litres a day. The simplest way to do this is to buy a large two-litre bottle in the morning and aim to have it finished before you go to bed. You will know if you are dehydrated by the colour of your urine. Ideally, it should be a clear colour, not yellow.

Day 7 Get some healthy snacks in

Ideally, you should be eating every three hours with three meals and two healthy snacks in-between. Why not try some of these snacks today:

  • Fresh fruit with some nuts
  • Seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, flax, sesame
  • Hummous/guacamole with crudités
  • Pear/apple with nut butter
  • Vegetable-based juice
  • Natural Greek yoghurt with fruit

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