Take care of your body… and of your mind!
Eat 5 fruits and veggies a day, move more, drink more (water of course), stress less, do this and not that… The list of healthy habits can quickly seem overwhelming when we consider how hectic LIFE can get! Well, we know what it’s like. It’s not always easy, but we have put together a very simple guide to help you adopt healthy habits, even with a busy lifestyle. Keep reading if you would like to learn how to stay in top shape in all circumstances.
Feed your body and your mind with healthy food
You have probably heard this saying before: “You are what you eat”. To a certain extent, that is true: the food you choose is what will fuel your body and your brain once you have digested it. Your diet has an impact on almost every aspect of your health, not only physical but also mental. What you choose to eat should therefore feed your body with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. Here are a few tips to help you get started with a healthy diet:
- Balance is key!
No need to be a high-wire walker to have a balanced diet. What does it take then? To answer this question, there’s what we SHOULD tell you, and then there’s… life. :)
This is what is recommended: your diet should be composed of a wide variety of foods in the right proportions. You’ve heard it all by now: fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lean proteins, and healthy sources of fat.
Now: life. Well, balance does not mean that you have to eat only bland, plain food. You can still include in your diet, alongside what we have described previously, all the things that YOU love. Ice cream? Why not! A pizza? Of course! Chocolate? Every day if you want. At this point, you might be thinking: “OK NXT Level people, you might have gone crazy!” Well, thanks for asking, but we are doing fine! This is the real definition of balance. We apply this very same principle to all our weight loss menus, fitting one pleasure meal (we didn’t say CHEAT meal) each week, for a diet that matches your needs (here’s a link to our calorie calculator if you would like to determine your daily calorie needs) and that remains… BALANCED.
- Eat your fruits and vegs
You can’t go wrong with eating more fruits and veg! It is recommended that you have at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. And yes, fruits are healthy and there is no need to worry about their sugar content! Check out this article where we break down common misconceptions about sugar. And no, in case you are wondering, the ketchup on your fries doesn’t count as one portion of fruit.
Fruits and veggies are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium, and provide you with dietary fibre, which helps maintain a healthy gut. Plus, there is so many to choose from, you can be sure to find ones that you like. They are tasty, can be used in a variety of recipes and eaten at any time of the day: for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as a snack throughout the day… You decide! You can check out this article to find out what fruits and veg are rich in the nutrients you need.
- Read the labels when you go grocery shopping
It can seem difficult and time-consuming to thoroughly read food labels when you are grocery shopping, but it is important to know what is in the food you are eating. You can make healthier choices if you understand the nutrition information and ingredients list for the food products that you pick. Don’t panic, what’s written on the labels (or most of them) isn’t all gibberish! To get started, try to focus on these criteria: choose products that are low in saturated fats, sodium and added sugar, and high in dietary fibre and protein. And if you would like to try healthier snack options than your usual bag of potato chips, you can try these healthy snack ideas.
- Stay organised with your food: don’t skip meals!
We all know cooking healthy meals every day can take time, and sometimes it can be tempting to either skip a meal or order take-out because you feel too hungry, tired, or simply don’t have time. This is why organisation is important: if you know that you are going to be too busy to cook during the week because of your workload or just because life happens, take some time during the weekend, evening, or whenever you have free time to prep your meals in advance. Pro tip: this will save you money, too!
For example, you can cook full meals in advance and keep them refrigerated, then just reheat them. You can also cook large batches of a specific meal, which doesn’t cost you extra time since you are already cooking, then freeze them until you need them. Alternatively, you can prepare your ingredients ahead of cooking: clean, peel, slice your vegetables for example, and store them in a container in your fridge to make your cooking process faster later. Remember to label your food preparations with the recipe, date, and number of portions to keep track of what you have ready.
A meal plan for the week can help you if you tend to run out of ideas for meals or never have the ingredients you need to cook the meals you would like. It can give you a clearer view of what you need and how much time you have to cook each day, and you can then organise yourself in advance.
- Eat well, but also drink well – water of course (what did you expect?)
Food is not the only important part in your diet, what you drink also matters. Water is your best option, and is essential to life! Generally, it is recommended that adults drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water every day, but how much water you need may vary depending on factors such as your gender, age, level of activity and environment. It is important to drink more water if you have been in situations that could cause dehydration, for example exercising, being sick, or in hot weather.
Water is of course not the only beverage you can have, but try to limit your consumption of high-sugar drinks such as soda or certain fruit juices, as they can make your calorie intake spike. If you find water boring, you can spice it up using fruit or veggie slices (lemon, berries, cucumber…), infuse it with spices like cinnamon or ginger, or herbs like mint or basil, for example. And make sure to moderate your alcohol consumption if you want to stay in top health. It’s ok to enjoy a drink every once in a while, but remember to sip on that water every day!
Move your body, in any way you like
Everybody knows that: exercise is good for you and comes with a variety of both physical and mental health benefits. Everyone can benefit from physical activity, regardless of age, gender, or physical ability. By exercising regularly, you can improve your overall health and fitness and reduce your risk for many chronic diseases. And who said exercise should be boring or unpleasant? Luckily, any activity that requires you to work your muscles and burn some calories is good for you, so pick what you like best! Check out these tips if you would like to get started with an exercise routine:
- Set realistic goals before you start
It’s a good idea to set yourself a general objective before you embark on your fitness journey: it can be anything from wanting to improve your overall well-being to just staying healthy, building muscle, losing some weight, staying active… Remember that your objective is personal and can help you stay motivated on the long run. And do you know who’s your best competitor? You! Only you. So, forget the comparison to x and y and z that you saw on Instagram, or your neighbour, or the cousin of your friend who knows someone who does… Well, you get the idea! So set yourself realistic goals you can achieve little by little, every day or every week: this is how you make progress!
- Stay consistent and make it a routine
Habits take a while to form, but the more you do something, the easier it will get with time. Yes, even squats get easier the more you do them! ;) So plan out your workouts and try to stick to a schedule. Be realistic with it: do not plan to run a marathon at 8 pm after work if you know you are going to feel very tired at the end of your day. Start slowly, for example with a workout twice a week, and then build up from there, taking into account how you feel and how much time you can dedicate to exercising each week. For example, you can start with walking: it’s easy to incorporate in your schedule, you can even do it during your lunch break! It’s tempting to cross out the days when you feel like you are too busy, but remember that even spending 10-15 minutes working out or going for a brisk walk, for example, is good for you.
- Explore your options and make it fun
There are plenty of physical activities you can try out and combine to find the perfect match that will keep you energised and happy. Exercise should not be boring! Anything that makes your body move is beneficial: it can be a walk, a run, a dance to your favourite song, a good swim in the pool… If you like the outdoors, why not try hiking, rock climbing or bike riding? Exercising can also be a good way to socialise, if you sign up for a fitness or dance class for example, join a sports team or meet people at your local gym. You can also work out with your friends and family, and keep each other motivated throughout. Just have fun and move your body!
- Listen to your body and don’t overdo it
Exercising can help you keep healthy, but it can also cause injuries if you don’t perform it correctly. Pushing your body too hard to complete a workout, and focusing on your speed or number of reps rather than on your form can also have the opposite effect and lead to a decrease in performance. Remember to warm up before your workouts and allow your body to cool off afterwards. Don’t workout the same muscle groups over consecutive days: your muscles need rest to grow stronger, so plan out rest days and let your body recover. During rest days, you can still keep your body moving with light activities, such as walking, swimming, yoga… You should also make sure that you are eating enough calories and nutrients to fuel your workouts. Always be mindful of your limits and stop working out immediately if you feel pain or discomfort. You should take the time you need to progress through your fitness journey at your own pace, which will ultimately help you improve your athletic performance.
A healthy diet and regular physical activity are essential to your well-being, but they are not the only elements that matter. Stay tuned for part 2 if you would like to know how a good sleep hygiene and stress management can benefit your health too!