Drastic Lifestyle Changes Are Ineffective
Day 1: we’re sitting in McDonalds, devouring a Big Mac, already regretting it. We’re telling ourselves we’re sick of feeling tired and uncomfortable, and that we need to sort our lives out. We decide to exercise more and adopt a healthy lifestyle starting tomorrow, complete a HIIT workout at 7am every morning, and eat salad at every meal.
Day 2: McDonald’s.
We’ve all been there 😅.
Fact is, drastic changes don’t work for most of us. While we may be able to manage these overly strict lifestyle changes for a week or so (we might even enjoy it for that week), the novelty soon wears off, and we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, restricted, and unhappy. Small, progressive changes that lead to long-term healthy habits are tonnes more effective, and way less daunting. It’s all about habit forming.
Let’s explore some smaller, more realistic ways to ease into a healthy lifestyle.
Eat the Rainbow
Some of us are literally children when it comes to eating vegetables. Just the thought of eating Nan’s soggy veggies makes us want to cry (and then feed them to the dog 😂), but the truth is, being a healthy adult means eating all of the vegetables. Get over it.
It’s recommended that we eat 5 fruits and/or vegetables every day. 9 is even better, and it’s way easier than you might think. While most of us have no issue eating fruit (they’re sweet and delicious!), vegetables should make up most of this 5-a-day requirement, because fruit, while very healthy, contains more sugar (natural sugar, but still sugar).
What’s interesting about transitioning into this 5-a-day habit is that you’ll come to realize how many vegetables there actually are (if you’re open to trying them all), and if you’re not into eating raw vegetables, they’re easy to stash in saucy dishes unnoticed.
While we do need to eat a variety a vegetables, we don’t need to eat them all. If you hate Brussels sprouts, don’t eat them. Experiment, find out which ones you do like.
Being flexible on the 5-a-day rule is better than saying no to vegetables altogether.
- Eat 1 serving of fruit at breakfast
- 2 vegetables at lunch
- 2 vegetables at dinner
- Eat more throughout the day (optional)
Make sure to include a variety of colors (different colors indicate different nutrients, and contribute to our overall health in different ways). Basically, eat the entire rainbow!
Or…if you want to be stubborn about it, eat a salad. All the fruits/vegges in one siting.
Rethink Your Grains, Potatoes, and Oil
Grains are a staple of many diets all over the world, from Asia to the Mediterranean. While carbohydrates (like bread, cereal, rice, pasta, et cetera) have a reputation for being unhealthy, not all grains are evil. Whole grains are actually very useful, since they include a decent amount of fibre, and also B-vitamins, magnesium, and much more.
Examples of whole grains include:
- Oats (ideal with fruit and yoghurt)
- Brown rice (easy to mix with saucy receipes)
- Whole wheat bread (tastes lovely with smashed avocado)
Replacing white potatoes with sweet potatoes will deliver some antioxidants. For fewer calories and healthier, less-toxic fats, use olive oil and coconut oil instead of hydrogenated vegetable oils. Simple changes, huge benefits, tastes almost the same.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
It’s been suggested that those of us who don’t skip out on a healthy breakfast (or brunch, if you’re not really into mornings 😅) are more likely to keep making healthy choices throughout the day. We’re also more likely to have heightened productivity, be in a better mood, and have longer-lasting energy. All of this, just by eating a healthy breakfast. If the thought of being healthy throughout the entire day is daunting, eat a healthy breakfast and take it from there. Don’t think about the rest of the day.
Gamify it, turn it into a game 🎮, keep a tally of your winning streak.
Life is a game, it’s meant to be played! 😉
Breakfast should be eaten within an hour of waking up. If you need some inspiration, our free Brain Power Breakfasts ebook comes out in (about) a week. Here at Nomad Noms we enjoy Greek yogurt with berries, smashed avocado and bacon toast, or a randomly assorted smoothie bowl to start our day. And for those of us who aren’t big breakfast eaters, a handful of nuts and seeds with some milk and fruit will do fine.
Drink Infused Water
Water is boring. It literally tastes of nothing, has no color, and it’s nothing to be excited about unless we’re really thirsty. But, unfortunately, our bodies depend on it.
Infused water is an interesting trend, though—making water tastier with the added benefit of more nutrients from (real) fruits and herbs, what’s not to love?
Here are some of our favourite infused water combinations:
- Watermelon chunks and basil leaves
- Blueberries and orange slices
- Blackberries and mint leaves
- Strawberries and lemon slices
- Cucumber slices and mint leaves
- Strawberries and kiwi slices
- Strawberries, lime and cucumber slices
Or…set a recurring reminder on your device. Chug away. Get it over with 💪.
Meal-prepping is another quick n’ easy way to ease into a healthy lifestyle. Only having healthy meals at hand ensures we’re not grabbing last-minute takeaways. By taking only a little time to decide what we want to eat throughout the week, shopping for some healthy food, and making meals ahead of time, we can adopt healthier habits.
Here are some simple, tasty examples of meals and snacks that can be meal-prepped ahead of time, and optionally stored in ziplock bags or containers, to be eaten later.
- Overnight Oats
- Chicken and Vegetable Stew
- Hardboiled Eggs
- Homemade Trail Mix (for snacking)
- Homemade Granola Bars (fun to make, easy to eat)
- Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potato and Broccoli
- Chickpea curry (optionally with brown rice)
- Baked Salmon with Green Beans and Quinoa
- Cod with Mediterranean Vegetables
- Fajita Chicken/Tofu with Brown Rice and Peppers
- Chopped, Frozen Fruit (for smoothies or otherwise)
- Vegetarian/Turkey Meatballs with Whole Wheat Pasta and Tomato Sauce
Gradually Increase Physical Activity
As human beings, we need to keep active as well. Our ancestors hunted to find food. We obviously don’t, but in terms of evolution, the need for physical activity hasn’t changed. Considering how easy it is to be lazy about literally everything (thank you very much, internet and tech advancement), most of us don’t exercise nearly enough.
Exercise helps to build and maintain bone and muscle, increases energy levels, improves mood and cognitive function, and so on. The sedentary life that we’re living today can lead to various health issues, including higher risk of disease, weight gain, lethargy, and negative moods (which, ironically, lead to more unhealthy choices).
While we’re not expected to turn full Tarzan and wrestle our food, we can make our lives more active by incorporating at least 30 minutes of exercise into our daily routine. This can be a home workout, a gym session, or whatever. The gamification trick mentioned earlier works splendidly here—start off small, then gradually set yourself more difficult challenges (e.g. start at 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, then 30, and so on).
Forget about the clichéd “all or nothing” mindset.
Ever heard of the 30-Day Challenge? Here are some epic ones by Darebee.
Improve Your Mental Health
Healthy eating and exercise aren’t the only two components of a healthy lifestyle, our mental wellbeing is just as important (in fact, it’s often the underlying issue causing us to be unhealthy). We may eat well and exercise daily, but if we’re experiencing feelings of depression, stress, or anxiety, we simply aren’t being our healthiest self.
Read our natural ways to relieve depression and anxiety article. We all suffer from substandard mental health, it’s normal. Often enough, simple lifestyle changes are all that’s needed. In a nutshell, here are some easy tips for improving mental health:
- Meditate and/or do yoga
- Get 6-8 hours of quality sleep
- Go for a walk (no devices)
- Spend time with animals
- Spend time alone to read a book or listen to music
- Consider an essential oil bath 🛀 (Lavender FTW )
- Talk to strangers, they’re dealing with life as well
- Listen to motivational speeches (our favourite is the Happier Podcast)
- Remind yourself daily why you want to be your healthiest self
Reward yourself with a small chocolate bar, a new book or app, a massage, whatever.
Most of all, take it easy 😌.
Rebeka Bergin is the founder of Nomad Noms. A digital nomad finding ways to stay happy and healthy while traveling around the world, her hobbies include cooking, eating out, discovering new cuisines, watching horror flicks and reading fantasy novels.