Healthy Living

Cherries from the Farmer's MarketEveryone wants that healthy glow that eating right, exercise, and stress reduction can bring.

We know that quick fix diet pills, diet fads, and plastic surgery only works short term in some cases not at all when it’s our lifestyle is the problem. Being healthy happens when we learn to make new lifestyle choices that become part of our every day routine.

Changing your lifestyle isn’t as hard as you think, it’s about taking small steps towards health and making them a natural part of your home, your work environment, and even part of your family or spouse’s life. The payoffs are big and the greatest reward is feeling so good that you couldn’t imagine a time when you didn’t have great health habits.

Ok, ready to get started? Use my four steps EESA – it’s easy! Eating, exercise, sleep, and attitude. Focus on these important components to living a healthy and happy life. To get started, just make one small change to your daily routine in each category.

1 | Eating

Eating is a necessity and a pleasure all wrapped up in one! The key is to enjoy the pleasure of eating – savor the flavors, aromas, and satisfaction that you feel as your stomach becomes full – all the while making the healthiest choices possible.

When you eat well, balancing taste with health, you feel great – period. There is no question that a diet focused on plenty of fresh vegetables helps to maintain weight, improve your looks, and even boost your mood. Thousands of studies prove it and I have experienced it for myself. You might not be ready for a total diet make-over yet, but why not take one small step and tweak just one of your bad eating habits? These no-brainer ideas have worked for me in the past and they are fast, inexpensive, and most importantly sustainable even with a busy lifestyle.

  • Drink one extra glass of water a day if you don’t get your daily requirement.
  • Eat a healthy home cooked meal one extra night a week.
  • Add one extra steamed vegetable to your dinner plate every night, you can even pre-steam handfuls of assorted veggies a few days in advance.
  • Skip your afternoon candy bar for three months and have a cup unsweetened hot tea instead – I lost a whole dress size doing it.
  • Ready to take it a step further? Visit my Eating Healthy page to learn more.

2 | Exercise

Jennifer in Seating Forward BendHistorically, I haven’t always been a fan of exercise. But I do love dancing, walking and hiking, and of course yoga. Through my years of doing yoga – that lead me to become a certified yoga teacher – I’ve realized how important exercise really is. The benefits of regular exercise go well beyond weight management, and can help your body cope with everything from depression to insomnia.

So, why did I fall in love with yoga? I stumbled into my first yoga class almost 9 years ago looking for a way to lose a few pounds and be more active. I quickly learned the basic techniques of breath control that teaches you to concentrate on movement while clearing the mind of thoughts, good or bad. So while I moved my muscles, strengthening and stretching, I experienced something new that no other exercise program could offer: I noticed that my mind and my body felt rested after yoga! Imagine – a workout for your body and a mini-vacation for your mind! Then I realized that yogawas much more than just a work-out program and that I was in fact looking for a physical practice that combined mind, body, and spirit.

If you don’t enjoy yoga, there are plenty of other options out there for you. Here are some ways to get started. No matter what type of exercise you choose, try leaving your worries and thoughts out of it. But do check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

  • Climb three extra flights of stairs every day, slowly, while breathing in and out to a count of three.
  • Go for a 10 minute run three times a week.
  • Get up 10 minutes early and do a set of 30 sit-ups, push-ups, and squats.
  • Plan a bike ride three times a week or save gas by using a bicycle as part of your commute to work.
  • Find a dance demo on the internet and practice your “moves” for 15 minutes three times a week.
  • Take an after-dinner stroll three times a week with your sweetheart while the dishwasher or the kids take care of the dishes.
  • Didn’t break a sweat? If you’re ready for the next level, read more about exercise and yoga…

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3 | Sleep

picking berries at the farmers marketWe all know that sleep and rest are essential for your body, but what happens to us when we don’t get enough? Constant sleep deprivation brings many unwanted health repercussions, from increased risk for heart disease and cancer to causing wrinkles, irritability, increased sugar cravings, and even depression.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 70 million people in the United States experience sleep-associated problems. In this fast-moving, hard working culture, how can we secure enough time for sleep? Experts say that you should be getting from 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, but if you work nights, early mornings, or have a newborn child, this can be a challenge. Whatever your lifestyle demands are, you can certainly focus on the quality of your sleep even if you can’t increase the hours. I use these easy techniques to get a more restful, deep “beauty sleep” when I have a late night or early morning schedule shift:

  • If you are very sensitive to caffeine like me, cut back on your morning coffee and forget the afternoon espresso or soda. Try my recipe for chai as a soothing substitution.
  • Your dinner choices might be interrupting your sleep. Try lighter meals like soups, salads, or grilled seafood. Eating deep fried foods, large portions of red meat, and dishes with heavy cream sauces might make trouble for your digestion and leave you feeling restless throughout the night.
  • Stress and anxiety is the top cause of sleeplessness. Finding simple ways to lower stress can not only help you to get a good night’s sleep, like simple breathing exercises, stretching before you go to sleep, or even watching a funny movie to clear your mind of stressful thoughts.
  • Make it a habit. Have a night time ritual that will signal your body and your mind to get ready for deep sleep. Whether you choose to sip an herbal tea after dinner, take a short bath, or read in bed, your mind will get the signal that it’s time to shut off and relax.

4 | Attitude

picking berries at the farmers marketCan having a bad attitude wreck your health? It certainly can. Giving into negative thoughts, worries, and harboring bad feelings towards others, can really put a damper on every facet of your life. People who allow negative thoughts to rule their minds can’t work productively, are unable to reach their goals, and in most cases never give their dreams a fighting chance.

On a smaller scale, unpleasant thoughts can also weaken a person’s resolve when it comes to diet and healthy living choices. “I have to have that hot fudge sundae, I’ve had a rough day and I really need it!” I’ve certainly used that excuse before, I think everyone has. Or maybe, “I’m not in the mood to work-out, I’ve had it up to here with my boyfriend”, might be the popular tune you hear after a fight with your significant other.

Attitude most definitely has a link to stress. Maintain a positive attitude even when things aren’t going your way. You can actually soften the intensity of a stressful situation and see that some good may come out of it. Refuse to “replay” bad thoughts or review a bad scenario. After some time you will regain the energy and focus that will bring clarity.

What’s so great about clarity? You’ll be “clear” on where to use that extra focus or how to direct your energies to improve your life. Perhaps you’ll use it to complete a big work project with many rewards or maybe you’ll finally create that business plan for the company you’ve always dreamed of owning. Acting positive and thinking good thoughts has serious, tangible results, from helping you to stick to a new diet plan, to reducing stress and wrinkles, even to improving your social life.

picking berries at the farmers marketSo how can you begin to improve your attitude? There are many simple and clever techniques for handling unproductive thoughts the moment they pop into your head. You can even practice these techniques when traveling home from work, grocery shopping, or taking out the garbage.

  • Smile. This one really throws people, but it actually works. If you smile even when you don’t feel like it, you automatically start to feel a little better. The body has a deep connection to the mind and vice versa.
  • Having trouble smiling? Give someone a compliment. Smiling is contagious.
  • Spend 5 minutes with the most positive person you know. Pay attention to their language and actions, and follow their lead.
  • Stop tensing. Do you ever notice that you clench your jaw, legs, or wrinkle your forehead when you feel stressed? You can alleviate a lot of stress in your mind just by relaxing your body. That’s why people who feel tense naturally rub their own shoulders to get relief.
  • Think about the grand scheme. How important is the thought you’re having to the grand scheme of your life or where you want to take it? Will you care about it one year or even one day from now? Chances are those unproductive thoughts will simply melt away once you put it in prospective.

Take A Look Around, Find More Ways to Life a Healthier Life

Download recipes and browse the many articles on SkinnyChef.com. You can find tips for healthy cooking and eating, pose your questions in Ask Skinny Chef, and check out Jen’s favorite picks.

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Comments

  1. Thanks, what a great set of tips! I’m a fairly healthy eater anyway but love learning new ways to keep it up and try new things.

    Definitely agree that attitude is a major factor when it comes to health and food.

    Cheers

    x

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