5 Healthy Lifestyle Changes I've Made This Year (+ 3 More I Want to Make)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

This year I have been really focused on my health, and I feel so much better for it. By the end of last year I was feeling really run down, both physically and mentally, and I knew things needed to change. I was overweight and eating really unhealthily, so I knew this would be the first area to target. I started Slimming World at the end of January, and that really triggered me to focus on changing my lifestyle and focusing on my health. Whilst I still have a long way to go, I'm really happy with the healthy lifestyle changes I've made so far, so I thought I would share how I've been getting on:



5 HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CHANGES I'VE MADE


EATING THE RAINBOW

Since joining Slimming World I have really upped my fruit and veg intake, and I feel so much better for it. I have tried to really focus on making my meals as colourful as possible, and throughout the day I try to eat a range of different fruit and veg. I'm now getting my 5 a day every single day, and I can honestly say it has made me feel so much healthier. On the days where I eat off plan and have takeaways and all of the desserts I start to feel really rubbish and my body begins to crave goodness.

Although I do try to keep it varied, there is still room for improvement. For instance, I am always eating strawberries and broccoli, but we barely ever have red cabbage or butternut squash, so I want to start trying to incorporate an even bigger range of fruit and veg, and even more colours, into our diet. If you want to keep an eye on how I am doing with this then please do follow the Instagram account that I set up to track my healthy lifestyle changes (@happyandhealthychantal).


COUNTING MY STEPS

I have had a FitBit since September last year, but I wasn't using it properly until a few months ago. I would let the battery die, or take it off and forget to put it back on, and as a result I wasn't keeping track of my activity levels or using it to set myself any goals. Recently though I have been wearing it every day, and simply by keeping an eye on my steps each day I have found myself walking more than ever.

For four weeks in a row I managed to hit my goal of 10k steps a day, and I was so so proud of myself. I have since let it slip, but plan to get back on it now that the weather is warmer. As I work in an office three days a week I can find it quite hard sometimes to get all of the steps in, so I have been going on walks in the evening with the boys to ensure I hit my goal, which means that not only am I being active, I am spending more time with my little family.

KEEPING A FOOD DIARY

Since joining Slimming World I have, for the most part, kept a food diary. I tend to only record what I am eating when I am 'on plan', but despite this it has made a massive impact on the way I eat. I quickly realised how often I would eat something 'unhealthy' and forget about it, such as cake in the office, or a quick snack on the way home from work. I found that I wasn't very good at keeping treats in moderation, so I now try to avoid treats during the day, and then tend to have something sweet in the evening after Zach has been put to bed; reminding myself of that throughout the day really helps me to keep on track.

Another reason I have found keeping a food diary to be beneficial is that I can compare what I eat to the way my body behaves. I have learnt that I really don't get on with bread: when I eat it I get seriously bloated, but it wasn't something I ever put much thought into before I was recording what I eat. It is now so easy to look back and identify what could be causing any discomfort, so I can modify my diet in order to keep my body as happy as possible.


LUNCHTIME PILATES

Every Wednesday we have a lunchtime pilates session in our office, and it is something that I have begun to really, really enjoy. I have to admit that I was really dubious at first. I wasn't sure that I was going to enjoy it, and didn't think it would have much impact on my health, but I was totally wrong. I have taken a weekly pilates class for about six months now, and I have never felt stronger or happier with my body. I am now able to do a press up, which is something that I have never been able to do before, and I am really developing my core strength. It is so exciting to see my body strengthening and adapting, and I can't wait to see how things continue to change.

Alongside my physical health, I have found that Pilates has also had a positive impact on my mental health. Taking some time out each week to focus on my body and my breathing has been really beneficial, and I feel so much more in-tune with myself. It is also a welcome break from staring at screens which is something I do all day, almost every single day.

SAYING NO

One thing I have always found hard is saying no to food. As a general rule, I have always accepted any food I am offered unless it was something I really didn't like, and even then I would often try it anyway. I'm not sure what caused it, although I'm pretty sure it is just greed, and I have found it the hardest thing to combat and it is still most definitely a work in progress. 

At work we often have treats in the office, and we also have a weekly coffee morning which always involves cake, scones, crisps or biscuits (normally all of them!) I always used to eat whatever I wanted, but since joining Slimming World I have said no to all of the delicious treats in the office. Every coffee morning I now sit there with a cereal bar, and although I do want to eat all of the cake, I don't, and it turns out it's really not a big deal. I don't look back and wish I had eaten the treats, instead I am proud of myself for making taking control, and pleased that I had the will power to say no.

3 MORE I WANT TO MAKE

8 HOURS SLEEP + AN EARLIER BED TIME

As well as tracking activity levels, my FitBit records my sleep patterns, and I have been shocked to see how badly I have been sleeping. I tend to stay up far later than I should, rarely getting to bed before 11, and this means I am always tired. It really affects my mood and I think I would get so much more done during the day if I didn't feel so exhausted. I plan to set myself a bed time of 10:30 every night, and then work my way earlier from there until I find the time that is right for me.

Alongside this I would also like to start getting up a little earlier once I'm in a good routine with bedtime. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I would be able to get so much more done if I got up just one hour earlier - perhaps it could be my blogging hour before the mad rush to work.


REGULAR EXERCISE

Aside from my lunchtime pilates I don't do any regular exercise, and this is something I really want to change. I bought myself a new sports bra last year in a bid to get myself moving, but it has sat unworn in my drawer ever since. I used to go to a local Zumba class which I really enjoyed, so I'm planning to get back into that, although it is not at the most convenient time.

I would also like to try the couch to 5k. It's something I have done before, quite a few years ago now, andI managed to get to about 4k before stopping. I would love to get back into the swing of running, and it is the right time of year to do so, it's just a case of finding the right time to go out.

FEWER FIZZY DRINKS

One really bad habit that I have picked up since joining Slimming World is drinking diet fizzy drinks. I have never normally been one to buy fizzy drinks to have at home, but currently we are never without them. Because they are syn free, having a diet fizzy drink has become the perfect 'guilt-free' treat, but I know that really they aren't very good for me. I tend to drink them in the evening as an alternative to a cheeky gin and tonic, so in that sense it does feel like I better choice.

Over the next few months I want to stop buying fizzy drinks to have at home, aside from the odd occasion, and I want to really try to pick something healthier when I am eating out. I think this one will be take a little while to change, but I've already started drinking squash in the evenings instead of Pepsi Max, so I hope I will at least cut down massively if I don't cut down completely.

Have you made any healthy lifestyle changes this year? Are there any you want to adopt?

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