Healthy Lifestyle

Tips – 12 Steps

Instead of going all out, introduce one new change to your life each week or each month.

These suggestions are in no particular order, so pick and choose. It’s up to you. While these changes may seem small, it doesn’t mean the health benefits are too. If you make changes gradually, they’re more likely to stick. But before you start, we recommend you check with your GP or a dietician first.

Step 1: Walk the walk
It’s easy and kinder to your joints than running and costs nothing (apart from some good walking shoes). Walking is a great way to ease yourself into exercise. And it burns calories. What more could you want? A good, brisk walk is a great way to start introducing exercise into your day. You don’t have to walk for hours. Start small, say 10 to 15 minutes, and work your way up. Grab a friend – talking and walking adds to your cardio.

Step 2: Eat food that fills
Try adding more high fibre foods each day. These will help you feel fuller for longer. Fresh fruit and vegetables, high fibre cereals (check that they’re not high in sugar also), beans, peas, nuts and seeds are all good sources of fibre – and don’t forget good old baked beans.

Step 3: Read labels
Start reading food labels at the supermarket. Choose foods that are low in the key things, salt, sugar, fats, and calories, and check how big the serving size is. You may be surprised at what’s been hidden away in some of your regular groceries, so start making better choices.

Step 4: No need to go cold turkey
When you make all the things you like to eat or drink strictly off limits, you generally make it easier to fall off the healthy eating wagon. As the saying goes, all things in moderation, so try to include healthy foods that are low in fat and salt and high in fibre most of the time. Occasionally, take a walk on the wild side. So nothing is strictly off-limits, just limited, so you won’t feel like you’re missing anything.

Step 5: Think fit, not thin
Becoming fitter is something anyone can do, no matter what your age or body shape. And it’s as simple as starting to make better food choices and exercising regularly. As we’ve said, small changes can lead to big results over time so just keep moving forward. Fitness is the goal and when you feel fit, you feel great, and that boosts your confidence and makes you glow.

Step 6: Take time just to be
Get up 15 minutes earlier to have total ‘me’ time before the day begins. Use it to plan your day, do some gentle stretching or simply relax and sip a cup of tea or a fresh juice in your favourite place at home.

Step 7: Break old habits
Mayonnaise on sandwiches, creamy dressings on salads, butter on toast – if you’ve always done it, now’s the time to change. Try low fat mayonnaise or cream cheese, avocado or mustard on sandwiches. Dress salads simply with your favourite vinegar (try herbed, cider, sherry or balsamic) or lemon juice. And don’t be afraid of using fresh or dried herbs and spices to make your food more delicious.

Step 8: Don’t be a frequent fryer
Instead of frying, try baking, grilling or roasting. This can be done using minimal oil (use a cooking oil spray), while poaching and steaming use none, and your food can still taste delicious.

Step 9: Mash overhaul
If you love your mash potatoes, you’ll love them even without the butter. You can still get that comforting, creamy taste and texture using low fat sour cream or buttermilk. Or for another twist try salsa on a potato baked in its skin.

Step 10: Start menu planning
If you plan your meals ahead of time you’re more likely to avoid eating impulse foods that can often be high in fat and calories. Try to plan what you’re going to eat through the week and shop for all the ingredients on the weekend. It will make weekday meals much less stressful. Plus, by going into the supermarket with a shopping list, you’re more likely to avoid impulse buys. So stick to the list.

Step 11: Multi-task your exercise
If a busy life is making it hard to fit exercise in, make the exercise fit the busy life. If work is nearby (say within 30 minutes by foot) walk to work.

Leave the car behind and walk to the shops for milk or to catch up with friends for coffee, if it’s 15 minutes there and back, that’s a half-hour walk done. Avoid parking hassles and walk the kids to school – it’s good for them, as well as you.

Don’t just sit and watch your kids play sport, walk around the field. Get a bike and ride to the shops or get your friends in on the act and start a walking or cycling club. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Every little bit helps.

Step 12: Attack the snacks
Turn snack attacks from a negative into a positive. Keep nutritious snacks on hand, such as nuts (around 10-15 only), fresh fruit, veggie sticks or wholegrain crackers with low fat dip or reduced fat cheese, low fat yoghurt and reduced fat frozen yogurt, air-popped popcorn – the possibilities are endless.

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