Making small, sustainable changes in your lifestyle can result in big health improvements.
Here are five tips to kick-start your goals with small, healthful changes that can become part of your life — for good.
1. Goal: Exercise one hour every day
Kick-start: Add movement every day in 5- to 10-minute increments. Take a short walk around the office, stroll outside during the lunch hour or after dinner, jump on that exercise bike in the basement for a spin each morning or dance to music while you’re getting dinner ready. Sticking to a short period of movement a few times a day is a great way to boost energy and start building the exercise habit. While most of us find it hard to commit to big chunks of time, it’s tough to say no to 5 or 10 minutes. Arrange to walk with a friend if that helps keep you on track.
2. Goal: Drink eight glasses of water every day
Kick-start: Increase water consumption by one glass at a time — when you first wake up, or before lunch and dinner. Drinking water before meals helps you feel full and aids digestion. If water doesn't entice you, make it easier for yourself by finding a water bottle that’s easy to carry around. Add a splash of lemon or lime for flavor. Once you’re in the habit of drinking water before one meal, it will be easier to add a glass before other meals as well.
3. Goal: Cut out all sugar
Kick-start: Find healthy alternatives to reduce your sugar cravings. Try Monk Fruit In the Raw, a zero-calorie sweetener made from the vine-ripened monk fruit, which is native to Southeast Asia. This certified vegan, naturally gluten-free product can be added to recipes, smoothies and more.
4. Goal: Cut out all snacking
Kick-start: Find healthy, easy-to-prep snacks to stave off cravings for junk food, and to prevent you from overeating at mealtime. Small handfuls of nuts, raw veggies and fruits are obvious choices. Limit your snacks to 2-3 times per day. If your sweet tooth is your downfall, use a natural sweetener to sprinkle or drizzle on berries, or add a spoonful to your tea or coffee.
5. Goal: Stick to a specific diet
Kick-start: Examine the diet you’re trying, whether it’s keto or paleo or something else, to identify the most important elements, and don’t go cold turkey. The keto diet is mostly about cutting carbs and sugars, plus highly processed sugar-free diet foods. The paleo diet also emphasizes proteins, cutting all dairy and sugar. Because both of these trending diets recommend eliminating sugar and any artificial sugar substitutes, a sweetener such as Monk Fruit In The Raw is a great alternative. Cutting all carbs or dairy can be too challenging for most people — try reducing the “forbidden items” gradually to wean yourself from your usual eating habits.
Don't give up on your goals. Adjusting your expectations will help you adapt more healthful habits you can stick with for a long, healthy life. Take that first step by adding the following recipe for Granola and Yogurt Parfaits to your routine:
Nutty Grain-Free Granola and Yogurt Parfaits
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
1 cup Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
6 packets Monk Fruit In The Raw
1 cup blackberries
1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened whole milk Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In large bowl combine Brazil nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almond meal, flax seeds, chia seeds, egg whites, coconut oil and monk fruit. Mix until thoroughly combined. Spread mixture on baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. To serve, divide a few blackberries among 4 parfait glasses. Top with a spoonful of yogurt and 2 tablespoons of granola. Repeat layering once more, finishing with granola on top. Store leftover granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.