Summer and the New Year is all about renewal and new beginnings, so there’s no better time to kick-start a healthier you!
The key to success is to take it one step at a time. To help you get started, here are seven easy changes to try this month that is surprisingly easy to incorporate and makes a big difference in the long run.
1. Have breakfast every day
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It’s linked to many health benefits like weight control, lower cholesterol levels and better performance and concentration throughout the day. But many people – especially busy mums on the go tend to skip breakfast.
It’s easier than you think to sneak in a quick and nutritious breakfast:
- Plan ahead and pick up portable breakfast items the next time you do your groceries so you can just grab and go. Foods like fruit, low-fat yoghurt and wholegrain breakfast bars are great.
- Get up 15 minutes earlier. All you need is 15 minutes or less to make a healthy breakfast – it’s perfect for a little me-time to start the day before the rest of the house wakes too.
- Try a green smoothie. If you’re short on time, a smoothie is a fantastic way to give you the nutritional boost for the day while you’re on the go. Try it for a week and we promise you will never look back. Try our favourite recipe to get you started:
Green smoothie (serves 2)
- Half a banana
- 1 kiwi
- Half a small cucumber
- Half an orange or lemon
- Small piece of fresh ginger
- 1-2 stems of Kale
- Handful of baby spinach
- Teaspoon cinnamon
- 300 mls milk of choice (low-fat / almond / rice milk)
Blend leafy greens with juice of the lemon/orange and milk for 1-2 minutes. Then add in the fruit, ginger, cucumber (all cut into chunks) and cinnamon. Blend for another 2 minutes.
2. Keep moving and stay active
It's true that in Summer we all resolve to get a little more active or to hit the gym. But after a few weeks, responsibilities and life gets in the way and many people get discouraged.
Break the cycle by rethinking how you exercise. Staying active doesn’t necessarily mean exercises done in a certain way, at a certain place or at a certain time. The trick is to think of it as a lifestyle choice.
Next time, carry the groceries back to your car instead of using the trolley or take the stairs instead of using the escalator – you’d be surprised how a little incidental exercise can add up.
3. Wear a pedometer
While we’re talking about incidental exercise, new research suggests that routinely wearing a pedometer encourages people to walk about an extra 2km a day. With the range of today’s smart bands and fitness trackers, you can even set daily goals and get reminders to keep moving if you’ve been sitting for a while.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking and a total of 10,000 steps per day to help you lose weight and lower blood pressure. It’s also a great excuse to take a break and some time to relax and recharge. Win-Win!
4. Take fish oil
If you only take one supplement a day, make it a fish oil capsule. Studies after studies have shown positive benefits on maintaining healthy blood pressure, inflammatory conditions, brain and nerve health and general wellbeing. While fresh, oily fish is packed full of powerful omega-3 fats, to get an optimal amount each day you would need to eat 200g of salmon every day.
5. Swap your fats
Traditionally, fats have always been the enemy, but did you know that not all fats are created equal?
Saturated fat, found mainly in animal-based foods like meat, dairy and other processed foods increase blood cholesterol and is stored more readily in your body. Meanwhile, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats like avocado, nuts, oily fish, olives, olive oil, canola oil and (the latest craze) coconut oil are essential to our general wellbeing. These “good” fats don’t increase blood cholesterol and are more likely to be burnt off.
For heart health and weight control, minimise your saturated fats by switching them out with “good” fats where you can. The easiest way to do this is to switch to plant-based cooking oils rather than butter or lard.
6. Wear sunscreen
We hear this all the time, but coming into the warmer months, this is more important than ever. According to the Cancer Council, although most skin cancer develops after age 50, sun damage starts at an early age. The sun's rays are also behind freckles and brown spots and can make wrinkles appear before their time.
So, remember to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen every day. For a convenient option, try a daily moisturiser or foundation that incorporates an SPF of 15 or above to cut down on your morning routine. If you haven’t tried a BB cream with SPF yet, we promise it will have you out the door in half the time.
7. Get eight hours sleep every night
A number of recent studies have confirmed that you really do need at least eight hours of shut-eye every night. Adequate sleep makes you feel better, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, boosts memory and even reduces the likelihood of being in a car accident.
For a better night’s sleep:
- Turn off your electronics two hours before bedtime. Not only does this avoid mental stimulation of emails, texts or social media while you’re trying to wind down, the light from glowing screens reduces the amount of serotonin in your brain that you need to help fall asleep
- Set a regular bedtime. Go to bed the same time every night – including weekends – to get your body into a routine
- Wake up the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm
- Nap to make up for lost sleep. If you missed a few hours, take a day time nap rather than sleeping in late. This allows you to pay off your sleep debt without throwing off your body’s schedule.
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