In 30 seconds…
We all want to be our best, healthiest selves, but with so much advice floating around out there, it can be hard to home in on which healthy lifestyle tips are actually worth trying.
To make your life a bit easier, we’ve rounded up a number of our go-to healthy strategies, to help you reach your goals.
- Stay Hydrated
Whether you’re heading off to spin class, boot camp, or any other exercise, it’s always important to hydrate so you can stay energized and have your best workout. But you don’t want to grab just anything for hydration purposes.
Electrolyte-loaded athletic drinks, for example, can be a source of unnecessary calories, so “drinking water is usually fine until you’re exercising for more than one hour,” Jackie Newgent, RD, author of The Big Green Cookbook, tells Health.
If you are working out harder and longer, feel free to go for regular Gatorade-type drinks (and their calories), which can give you a beneficial replenishment boost. But worry not if you like a little flavor during your fitness: There are now lower-cal sports drinks available, adds Newgent, so look out for ’em in your grocery aisles.
- Find a workout buddy
A friend you can work out with is hugely helpful for keeping motivated, but it’s important to find someone who will inspire—not discourage. So make a list of all your exercise-loving friends, then see who fits this criteria, says Andrew Kastor, an ASICS running coach: Can your pal meet to exercise on a regular basis? Is she supportive (not disparaging) of your goals? And last, will your bud be able to keep up with you or even push your limits in key workouts? If you’ve got someone that fits all three, make that phone call.
- Stock your fridge with healthy items
While there are heaps of good-for-you foods out there, some key ingredients make it a lot easier to meet your weight-loss goals.
During your next grocery store run, be sure to place Newgent’s top three diet-friendly items in your cart: balsamic vinegar (it adds a pop of low-cal flavor to veggies and salads), in-shell nuts (their protein and fiber keep you satiated), and fat-free plain yogurt (a creamy, comforting source of protein). “Plus, Greek yogurt also works wonders as a natural low-calorie base for dressings and dips—or as a tangier alternative to sour cream,” says Newgent.
- Curb your sweet tooth
Got a late-night sugar craving that just won’t quit? “To satisfy your sweet tooth without pushing yourself over the calorie edge, even in the late night hours, think ‘fruit first,’” Newgent says. So resist that chocolate cake siren, and instead enjoy a sliced apple with a tablespoon of nut butter (like peanut or almond) or fresh fig halves spread with ricotta.
- Keep your portions in check
Does your steak take up more than half your plate? Think about cutting your serving of beef in half. That’s because it’s best to try and fill half your plate with veggies or a mixture of veggies and fresh fruit, says Newgent, so you can get a healthy mix of proteins, fats, and carbs.
- Know when and how often
It’s normal to want to weigh yourself soon after starting a new diet or fitness routine. “It’s best to step on the scale in the morning before eating or drinking—and prior to plunging into your daily activities,” says Newgent. For the most reliable number, be sure to check your poundage at a consistent time—possibly every week—and don’t let yourself get too discouraged by different results (remember: weight fluctuations are totally normal).
- Don’t stress over a cheat day
Feeling guilty about that giant ice cream sundae you enjoyed at your niece’s birthday party? Don’t; it takes a lot of calories—3,500—to gain a pound of body fat. “So really, that one off day doesn’t usually result in any significant weight gain,” says Newgent. It’s about what you do the next day and the day after that’s really important—so don’t stay off-track, but also don’t go overboard. Remember: starvation and excessive exercise are not the healthy answer.
- Move your body
Sick of that elliptical or bike or workout DVD? That means it’s time to mix up your routine. Our favorite way: Break a sweat by moving and shaking. Simply make a playlist with your favorite “cut a rug” tunes, then turn up the volume, and start breaking it down. For even more fun, invite some gal pals over and get grooving (and laughing). The best part is that you’ll each burn about 200 to 600 calories per hour.
- Savor your crabs
When trying to slim and trim, you may be tempted to take drastic measures like cutting out your carbs. But before you go and add dinner rolls and chips to your “no” list, remember that yummy foods like brown rice, pumpernickel bread, and even potato chips contain resistant starch, a metabolism-boosting carb that keeps you full for longer, which means you won’t have to eat as much to feel satiated.
- Work out in the morning
Sure, it can be a pain to drag yourself out of bed for a morning workout. But according to a study from Appalachian State University, opting for a 45-minute a.m. sweat sesh could cause a metabolic spike, helping your body continue to burn an additional 190 calories throughout the day.