Friday, June 20, 2014

Make the Right “BIG” Decisions – Healthy Lifestyle Decisions (pt. 5 of 5)

By Olivia Sandham 

If you’ll recall, the very first post in this series pointed to the idea that financial and lifestyle changes to improve overall wellness seemed similar because they can appear more like sacrifices and they probably wouldn’t stick in the long run.  The post concluded that trying to implement “BIG” financial and lifestyle decisions might be more worth the effort.  Since we have covered all of the financial “BIG”s in the last few posts of this series, let’s finish out the series by summarizing the “BIG” lifestyle decisions that could be made to improve your overall health.

1. Plan and Prepare Ahead:  Set aside a couple hours every few days (I use Sundays and Wednesdays, for example) to put together a healthy shopping list, buy the groceries, and portion/prepare snacks and meals in advance.

Benefits:  No more eating out because “there’s nothing in the fridge”, no more missing snacks/meals, no more microwave meals, no more worry and hassle trying to feed yourself and your loved ones (the stress alone makes me want a brownie). You can eat more healthy and more frequently, which will keep your metabolism going.  You could have more time to enjoy the meals with your loved ones, more energy from eating better, and you might even lose some unnecessary pounds.

Effort:  Planning and preparing does take some time, and certainly some effort at first if this is new to your schedule, but just like anything else you do on a continued basis, it easily becomes a habit and part of your weekly routine.  By having snacks correctly pre-portioned, vegetables and fruit already washed and cut, and meals prepared and ready to cook, you will ultimately save time and stress, which means having more free time and energy for other things.

2. Remove and Replace:  Figure out what food items are holding you back from your goals (i.e. aforementioned brownies) and remove them from your diet by replacing them with a better alternative.  You’ll be looking for less calories, less fat, less sugar, less carbs, and more protein, fiber, and vitamins.  Make small changes in your replacements so it doesn’t seem like such a leap or sacrifice.  Keep trying new and different healthy choices to see what works for you.  If you drink regular soda, try drinking juice or tea, and work your way to unsweet tea and water.  If you drink 2% or whole milk, try drinking 1% and work your way down to skim milk.  If you have a sweet tooth, replace those brownies with fruit and chocolate sauce, and eventually work your way down to eating just the fruit.  Replace your red meats with poultry by preparing them in the same fashion at first, such as using a chicken or turkey patty on your cheeseburger, or using ground turkey in your chili.  Add vegetables where you can, even if you have to add extra seasoning at first.

Benefits:  You can try new and different foods, plus fuel your body with better choices which will result in better health, focus, energy, and possibly even put you in a better mood.  And of course, you might lose some weight by choosing better food alternatives.

Effort:  This might take a little research on which foods work as good replacements and how to prepare them.  You should also pay more attention to nutrition details of items, which could take a little longer when deciding what to buy/order.  But you will be amazed how quickly your body will adapt to eating healthier food items, how little you will miss the old items, and how much better you will feel every day.

3. Focus on More:  When you think about being healthier, do the words "restrict" or "limit" or "diet" come to mind?  Why must we immediately go to the negatives when we think about being healthier?  Instead of thinking about what you could be missing or sacrificing, focus on what you WILL be getting.
  • Eat more frequently
  • Try more types of foods
  • Get more sleep
  • Drink more water
  • Do more physical activity
  • Have more energy
  • Have a more positive attitude
  • Feel more accomplished and in charge of your life
  • Possibly encounter more opportunities along the way
Benefits:  Changing your attitude, although listed as the third item in this blog, should probably be your first focus.  By focusing on MORE, everything you decide to do from here forward will be easier and seem less like a sacrifice and more like something you GET to do, GET to eat, or GET to achieve.

Effort:  This is such a simple change, but it might not be that easy.  Pay attention to your attitude when you hear that little voice inside your head, when you talk to others, and when you respond to others.  Catch yourself if you veer toward the negative or the less, and steer yourself right back on track to the positive and to the MORE.

And with that, our blog series on Making the Right Decisions concludes.  We hope you enjoyed the series and look forward to hearing how you have started making better decisions toward achieving your finance and health goals!

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