Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier

Stop looking for one thing to lose weight and be healthier.  There is no one thing.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

No one diet.

No one exercise.

No one magic pill.

No one superfood.

No one philosophy.

No one anything.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

The path to being healthier is not a straight and narrow path.  In fact, it’s rarely just one path at all.  There will be twists and turns, changes and modifications, things your body needs now but won’t in a year, and there is never an end point.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

That’s right.  This doesn’t end.  I don’t tell you this to discourage you but to let you know that making the decision to be healthier is an ongoing process, day in and day out.  You get to wake up each morning and make a choice.  Are your actions going to further your healthy goals or not?  You’re not a horrible person if they don’t nor have you failed.  You just made a decision in the moment and now you get to move on.

Losing weight and your health are going to be a series and combination of things that will ultimately bring you to where you need to be.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

You’ll experiment with different ways to eat and adjust to what you need.

You’ll try a bunch of different exercises and workouts and fine tune what works for you.

You’ll sample lots of different foods and see what your body wants and uses.

You’ll start making up your OWN healthy life and figure out what it means to be the best version of you.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

And it will change and grow and develop over time and that’s good!  We all change and grow and develop.  I’m not the same person I was in high school (thank goodness) and I hope twenty years from now I won’t be the same person I am today.  Why should you expect what you do to keep yourself healthy to stay the same?Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

So stop looking for the ONE thing because it isn’t there and you don’t need it.  All you need is what works for you and what makes you shine from within and feel the best you can.

Subtraction Vs. Addition

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a math lesson.  Trust me, you don’t want me teaching you math.  Anyone who knows me will back me up on this one (right, Mom?).

No, this is going to be a comparison of two different mindsets when it comes to living a healthier life.  I find that there are two approaches to changing bad habits, the subtraction approach and the addition approach.  I’ve actually taken both approaches myself and in my experience find one is definitely better than the other.  Because I want you to be successful in living a healthier life, I wanted to share the tiny difference between these approaches that can make a huge impact on your success.

The Subtraction ApproachSubtraction Vs. Addition | Life Healthfully Lived

I am going to be healthier by taking away all of the bad things in my life.  

This is a common way to look at things, and technically it’s what you want to do.  In with the good out with the bad, right?

Almost.  This immediately sets up a feeling of deprivation and an “I can’t have/do that anymore.”  It makes you feel like you’re losing a part of what was your daily routine and that can make you feel a little uncomfortable and maybe even sad.

You keep trying to tell yourself that it’s good, you’re getting rid of what made you unhealthy.  You’ll be happier once this process is over.  So, you start subtracting:

  • The “bad” food you used to eat
  • The lazy habits you had formed
  • The time you used to sit around instead of exercise
  • The social settings where you maybe weren’t the healthiest
  • The friends or family who don’t fully support you

You might start to see a change in your health doing this, of course.  You might lose weight, start to develop a regular exercise routine, but it still feels like you’re depriving yourself of things that once made you happy.  Even if they weren’t good for you.  You can start to pine for the way things were, especially since they are “off-limits” now.Subtraction Vs. Addition | Life Healthfully Lived

And this can set you up for the relapse.  A night of binging.  A week of no exercise.  Cheat meals/snacks/days.  You know you’re being “bad” but you can’t seem to help yourself.  And then you can’t help feeling guilty once it’s all over.  It’s a vicious cycle and it’s no fun.  Trust me, I’ve been there.

Let’s look at the other approach.

The Addition ApproachSubtraction Vs. Addition | Life Healthfully Lived

I am going to be healthier by adding good things into my life to crowd out the bad. 

This might seem counterintuitive.  You want to put more stuff into my life so that I’m healthier?  How can I do that when most people/diets/health systems tell me I need to get rid of the bad?

It’s simple.  Start thinking of things to add to your day that make you feel better than your older habits.  You’re going to crowd out all the things that you used to do or eat so that you no longer have time or energy for those.Subtraction Vs. Addition | Life Healthfully Lived

Now your days feel full and like you’re actively doing things to turn your habits around.  You’re not taking anything away, you’re adding things like:

  • More fruits and vegetables to each serving, crowding out the overly processed
  • More activity in your day, life short walks, crowding out the time you used to sit around
  • More friends and family who like the same healthy things you do
  • More time focusing on what makes you feel good instead of what you used to do that was “bad”

At a glance, these two approaches might look similar.  And to be honest, you’re doing a lot of the same things but by telling yourself that you’re adding to your life not subtracting from it makes it easier and more fun to keep making changes.Subtraction Vs. Addition | Life Healthfully Lived

It’s just a tiny switch, but it makes a big difference.  I’m not forcing myself to get rid of my entire life, I’m adding to it and changing things for the better.  As you go, soon you’ll realize that the good has overtaken the bad and your lifestyle is healthier and happier.Subtraction Vs. Addition | Life Healthfully Lived

So don’t focus on subtracting as much as you can to be healthier, add in as much good as you can and your health will follow suit.

What can you add to your life to be healthier?

How To Start

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You’ve decided to be healthier, now what?  Obviously you need to totally overhaul your life and daily routine, because what you have been doing isn’t working.  But changing everything seems like a huge and daunting task and you’re feeling overwhelmed.  Maybe you’ll start next week… Sound familiar?  This is a really common problem.  People want to be healthier but they get stuck on the getting started part.  It feels like their whole life has to change and that is a lot of hard work.  So how do you get started?  Small.  Yup.  Start really, really small.  That might seem counterintuitive to being healthier, but it is actually a lot more successful than you might think.  When you change small things in your life over a longer period of time you have a higher chance of actually sticking with those changes.  What are some small changes you can make to be healthier?  I’m glad you asked!  Here is a list of ideas on little changes you can make to your eating, exercising, and daily life that will help you on the road to being healthier!

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Food/Drink

  • Eat out less.  Do eat out more than three times a week?  Are you always getting fast food for your lunch?  Try cutting back just a little.  If you eat out four times a week, cut down to three.  If you are always buying your lunch, try making and bringing your own just a few days a week.  By making just a small change you will be saving not only calories, but money as well.  Plus you will be able to control exactly what you eat when you make it.
  • Eat slower.  Many of us are really busy and tend to eat either really fast or on the go.  This tends to make us eat more because our body isn’t really registering that we’re eating a meal.  Try and slow down when you’re eating.  Really taste the food, take small bites, and enjoy the meal.  The slower you eat the chances are greater that you will feel fuller sooner.  This little trick can help you stop eating more food than you need.
  • Eat less.  Try eating a smaller portion of food.  If you normally make and eat a big pot of spaghetti, try eating half and saving the other half for lunch the next day.  You don’t have to do this for every meal, just start with one and then keep adding more meals.  You’ll eat less and be able to have leftovers for lunches and dinners during the week
  • Make one healthy swap.  If you normally eat white rice, try brown rice or quinoa.  If you usually eat white bread, try whole grain.  If you usually eat flavored yogurt, try plain greek yogurt with cut up fruit.  Try a lettuce wrap instead of sandwich bread or adding an extra serving of vegetables.  Little food swaps like this can save you calories and get you used to eating better quality food.  Again, you don’t have to change everything you eat.  Start slowly and over time change more and more things.
  • Add a glass of water.  Try drinking one more glass of water than you normally do each day.  Switch one of your sodas/juices/lattes with a glass of water.  Water is super important and most of us could be better at drinking more.
  • Keep a food journal for one day.  You don’t have to obsessively write down everything you eat every single day, but pick a day and write what goes in your mouth that day.  At the end of the day, see what you’ve eaten.  Having it all in front of you can help you see where you need to improve your eating habits.  Maybe you snack way too much in the afternoon because you don’t have enough to eat for lunch.

Exercise

  • Walk.  If you have never exercised or haven’t exercised in a very long time, walking is a great place to start.  Add just 10 minutes of walking to your day and work your way up from there.  Once you’re able to walk for a good distance, start adding other exercises.  Maybe jog for a few minutes or do some crunches.  Keep building from there and soon you will have a pretty decent workout routine.
  • Move more in general.  Little things can really add up throughout the day.  Park your car farther away from the building.  Take the stairs instead of the escalator.  Walk over and talk to your co-workers instead of sending them an email.  Maybe you can’t fit in a 30 minute workout everyday, but you can move more and every little thing helps
  • Enlist a buddy.  Find a friend to take walks with you or try a new class together.  Having someone else to keep you accountable makes working out more of a priority and can make it more fun.

Daily Changes

  • Get enough sleep.  Sleep is really important for good health.  It is when your body is able to shut down and recover from the day.  Muscles are repaired during sleep along with other tissues and brain functions.  Try going to sleep a little bit earlier at night, even just fifteen minutes can make a big difference.
  • Stop negative talk.  Talking bad about yourself will get you nowhere fast.  Putting yourself down won’t make you healthier, it will just beat you down.  Try saying one good thing about yourself everyday.  Yes, you might feel silly at first but it can really have a positive effect on your mind and attitude.
  • Limit TV time.  If you normally spend your entire evening in front of the boob tube, try and cut down.  Instead of four hours of TV a night, try two and go read a book, exercise, mediate, take a bath, anything but sitting on the couch.  I get that watching TV is a relaxing and brainless activity many people enjoy after a long day, but there are better more productive things you can do that will help you unwind even better.

All these things might seem like insignificant ideas that won’t amount to much.  But doing a lot of little things like this will add up over time.  As you start to get used to each new habit, add in another and then another.  Soon you will realize that you have changed all of your unhealthy habits for healthier ones and that it seemed like you did so without much effort.  You can’t just magically get healthier overnight, it takes time and dedication.  Start small, go slow, and you will get there before you know it!

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