We had a business lunch this afternoon, which meant I got to eat out and don’t have to feel guilty about spending the money. 🙂
We met with a local massage therapist to talk business at Zada Jane’s, a very cute semi-vegetarian place in the hip part of town. I’ve eaten here a few times but always forget about it!
I went with the traditional soup, salad, and biscuit. :) Lunch was kind of early for me and I wasn’t too hungry yet. This hit the spot! I need more vegetables in my life, anyway.
Getting Healthy: How to Get Started
Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), I get e-mail questions and my first reaction is: “Man, my readers can answer this question SO much better than I can!” I really value comments because it allows me (and others, I suppose) to really see a question from a ton of different perspectives. Hey, I don’t know it all – I just wish I did. :) Today’s reader e-mail is a perfect question for everyone to answer!
Susan said: “Here’s what I am struggling with: where to start? There are so many things I need to work on, I’m just so overwhelmed so I do nothing. I think if I could just get the energy to start maybe I would be able to see how to work on these other areas. How did you start? How do you find the energy to work out, plan meals, make healthy choices? Thank you!”
Here are my thoughts:
Start Small: Healthy Tipping Point’s catchphrase is “When every day decisions add up something amazing” for a reason. You don’t need to do a total lifestyle overhaul right away. In fact, that’s the best way to feel overwhelmed and fall off the wagon. Identify small changes that you can make right away that will help you immediately feel that you’re being productive and working towards healthy goals. Add a new small change every week.
Some of my favorite ‘start small’ suggestions:
- Start drinking more water – you feel the benefits of hydration right away.
- Pack your lunch each day.
- Identify unhealthy time suckers – such as watching too much TV – and find a healthier way to spend that time (that you actually enjoy doing!).
- On Sunday, freeze a healthy casserole so you have dinner to eat throughout the week.
- Cut out soda and other sugary beverages and begin cutting back on caffeine.
- Pledge to get more sleep each night.
- Swap out one unhealthy snack with a healthy one, like potato chips for an apple with natural peanut butter.
- Start going for a walk every morning before work or every evening when you get home. Bring your phone and call a friend or your iPod and listen to music.
- Take 10 minutes before bed to quietly stretch and calm your mind.
- Begin eating breakfast if you don’t already do so.
Read Labels and Plan Ahead: For me, my biggest food trip-up was that I ate a lot of processed foods. I began reading labels at the grocery store, but instead of focusing on calories, I looked at the ingredient list. If there were a lot of chemically-sounding ingredients or artificial sweeteners, I picked something else. My other food problem was that I had no idea how to cook for myself and rarely packed meals. I began to read food blogs and actually go to the grocery store so I could cook and pack healthy options. I started off by focusing on packing healthy lunches and snacks so I had good food to eat at work.
Get Drinking Under Control: Not everyone has this issue, but as I’ve written about before, I was a big social drinker, which caused a whole host of problems. Not only was I regularly drinking way too many empty calories, but the alcohol caused me to overeat crappy bar food. Also, I woke up feeling like crap, couldn’t exercise, and would drink a ton of caffeine to feel normal. So, I decided to get my social drinking under control (obviously, I was not an alcoholic; that’s another bag of tricks entirely). I began opting for higher-quality beer at the bar, which was more expensive and forced me to drink less. ;) Another trick I used to reduce my alcohol consumption was alternating beer with water, which slowed down my drinking and helped me stay hydrated.
Just Move: If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of exercise, remember that you don’t have to train for a marathon or run a triathlon. Just MOVE your body a little bit every day. It sounds corny, but dancing in your living room totally counts. So does walking the dog, doing push-ups in between commercials, and taking the stairs instead the elevator. Joining a gym can be very motivating for some people, and don’t be afraid to try new classes or ask for help!
Choices Become Easier: It really does get easier to make healthy choices. Eventually, things like cooking and exercise become part of your routine, even if you have to force yourself to do them for the first few months. That’s why it’s important to just focus on small efforts at first. Don’t look it as a complete overhaul; it’s just a series of choices. Remembering that perfection isn’t the goal also helps things, too. The goal is to make an effort!
Those are my ‘just get started’ tips – basically, make one healthy choice, then make another (as Heather says!).
So – what are your favorite tips on how to get started with a healthy lifestyle? What did you change first? What advice can you share?
My biggest piece of advice regarding food is to plan head and take the time to make smart decisions. Plan meals for the week, research recipes and ingredients on the internet, etc. Then, take the time to carefully plan out your shopping list. THEN, take the time to grocery shop! I take a LONG time in the store because I read almost every label there is, and if I’m rushed, I’ll grab something easy and unhealthy.
The more time you put into it, the more knowledgeable and prepared you’ll be when you shop, cook, and eat!