Dietitians and trainers not only help other people live their~best lives~, but they’re pretty good about incorporating healthy habits into their daily lives, too. And their top-tips below are all pretty doable, proving that living well doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire life. Because when it comes to living healthy, it’s not all about chugging a kale smoothie, sweating it out in 90-minute hot yoga sessions, or picking up fresh flowers from the farmer’s market.
Healthy living means different things to different people, but there are some simple habits that can help you lead a more balanced, energized life every single day—no matter what your goals are. So put these expert-approved tips in your green juice and sip it:
H20 is pretty much your BFF. “Every morning, I pour myself a big glass of water, which I drink before putting anything else in my body,” explains Nora Minno, R.D., C.D.N. “Staying hydrated keeps our bodies healthy down to the cellular level and it also helps keep us from overeating. Oftentimes we can mistake thirst for hunger,” she adds, which can lead to taking in more calories than your body needs from food.
Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, also swears by staying hydrated. “I never leave home without my water bottle,” she says. “My goal is to drink at least three bottles full each day. Dehydration can lead to feelings of hunger, headaches, and lack of energy, so having it with me at all times makes it easy to stay hydrated.”
Mindful eating is one of those things that’s easier said than done—but worth working on. “While I can’t always escape eating a meal in front of my computer, I try to take at least 10 to 15 minutes to enjoy my meal [distraction-free],” says Rumsey. “No phone, no TV—just me and my food. This enables me to really taste and appreciate my food. Most importantly, I’m able to pay attention to my satiety cues, and stop eating when I am hungry.” Read More
People who regularly practice meditation may improve their mental focus by altering brain function. Compared to non-meditators, they may be better equipped to quiet brain activity related to mind-wandering, a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests. This may come as good news, considering the buzz on our increasingly shrinking attention spans.
The study, by Italian neuroscientist Giuseppe Pagnoni, found that meditation not only changes brain patterns, but it also confers advantages in mental focus that may improve cognitive performance.
For the study, Pagnoni, who has a longstanding interest in how meditation affects the brain, recruited twelve Zen meditators who had been practicing for at least three years. In a recent article at LiveScience, Charles Q. Choi quotes Pagnoni saying he “had to screen—and discard—a number of colorful characters who…declared that they were meditating regularly by screaming in a towel while stomping their feet on the ground, or that they were communicating frequently with beings of other planets—such are the unexpected joys of this research!”
He compared the final group of meditators to a control group of twelve volunteers who had never meditated, but were the same age and had the same education level as the meditators. Pagnoni then put each of them into an MRI machine to measure brain patterns.
Compared to non-meditators, meditators had more stability in their ventral posteromedial cortex (vPMC). The vPMC, a region linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering, lies on the underside of the brain, in the middle of your head.
Pagnoni thought the vPMC might be important for mental focus because, in most people, it’s almost always active. As he writes, many fMRI studies use “the so-called ‘resting state,’” where subjects lie in a brain scanner and with instructions “not to engage in any mental act.” However, even when people tried to turn off their thoughts, researchers consistently found activity emerging from the vPMC. This led to the conception of a “default mode network”—brain activity that’s constantly running in the background. Pagnoni thought that enhanced control over default activity may be what separates experienced meditators from novices, and may also be crucial for focus. Read full Article
It often feels like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done. Our stress and tiredness make us unhappy, impatient and frustrated. It can even affect our health. We are often so busy we feel there is no time to stop and meditate! But meditation actually gives you more time by making your mind calmer and more focused. A simple ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation as explained below can help you to overcome your stress and find some inner peace and balance.
Meditation can also help us to understand our own mind. We can learn how to transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy. Overcoming negative minds and cultivating constructive thoughts is the purpose of the transforming meditations found in the Buddhist tradition. This is a profound spiritual practice you can enjoy throughout the day, not just while seated in meditation. Click here for Videos
It took me many starts and frustrations before I learned how to live a healthier lifestyle. In 2005, I was 70 lbs. heavier, a smoker, addicted to junk food, sedentary, couldn’t exercise for more than a few days without quitting.
Today, I am much healthier, leaner, fitter. I eat healthily most of the time (with regular indulgences) and I’m able to stick to a meal plan if I want, and avoid junk food most of the time.
How did I change? I learned a few simple strategies. These aren’t for everyone, so pick and choose the ones that might fit in your life, and give them a try!
1. Toss out the junk food. Having junk food in your house or workplace makes it too hard to stick to a healthy diet. If at all possible, toss everything out that’s sugary, fatty, greasy, salty. The best strategy is not having it around. Clean out your pantry and fridge!
2. Find some healthy recipes and buy the ingredients. There are thousands online. Find one or two to start with, easy ones that don’t take an hour to prepare, and go buy the ingredients today.
3. Cook in bulk. I find it easiest to stick to a healthy meal plan if I prepare things in advance. So cook big batches of veggie chili or soup, or tofu veggie stir fry, and put the bulk of it in containers in the fridge or freezer. I like to divide things into meal-sized containers so I just heat things up when it’s mealtime.
4. Stock up on healthy snacks. When you’re hungry for a snack, what will you eat? Have healthy things to munch on at home, at work, and for the road. Fresh fruits, chopped veggies, raw nuts, dried fruits are some of my favorites.
5. Socialize in healthier ways. Instead of going out to bars or unhealthy restaurants, can you get together for tea, or a game of basketball, or a walk in the park? Or find a healthy restaurant to eat at?
6. Find a workout partner. Get your spouse or good friend or coworker to go on walks or runs with you, or meet you at the gym or a workout class. Having someone do it with you makes it fun and easier, and you’re more likely to show up if you have an appointment to meet someone.
7. Use social media for motivation. You can use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or your favorite online forums for motivation and accountability. Publicly announce 2-week or month-long health challenges, and have people keep you accountable. Try Fitocracy — it’s a social fitness game that can make getting fit fun.
Hikers battle bug bites, blisters and bruises for the sake of overcoming a challenge and enjoying some quality time with nature. But along with the snow-capped mountain tops and ocean views come an abundance of mental and physical perks.
Here’s what hikers can teach the rest of us about leading a happier, healthier life.
Hikers are creative.
Forget the caffeine. Those looking for a brainpower boost need not look further than the closest trail. Research shows that spending time outdoors increases attention spans and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50 percent. The authors of the study also point out that the results may have as much to do with unplugging from technology as they do spending time outside. “This is a way of showing that interacting with nature has real, measurable benefits to creative problem-solving,” David Strayer, co-author of the study, tells the Wilderness Society.
Plus, it’s not only the lack of technology and surplus of trees, sunshine and fresh air that contribute to this creativity boost in trail blazers. Researchers from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education found that walking gets the creative juices flowing far more than sitting.
Hitting the trail works out your body as much as it does your brain. Just one hour of trekking can burn well over 500 calories, depending on the level of incline and the weight of the pack you’re carrying. Hiking is a great way to get a serious workout without putting too much pressure on your joints. “Trails are often softer on joints than asphalt or concrete,” Caroline Stedman, a seasonal Park Ranger at northern Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, tells The Huffington Post. “So I find myself feeling less stiff and creaky after a hike than a jog down a sidewalk.”
If you head for the hills, weight loss results are even better. Not only are you burning some serious calories, but altitude itself has also proven a weight loss ally. Read More
When you are stressed, your body reverts to a flight or fight response and your blood vessels constrict. In the short-term, this will elevate blood pressure. In addition, on a long-term basis, this could lead to damage to your blood vessels which could indirectly contribute to high-blood pressure (16). Long-term stress can also lead to less healthy food choices and cause increased weight gain, which also can contribute to higher blood pressure.
When we are constantly overcommitted it can contribute to stress. Prioritize activities most important to you and say
“No” to all the rest.
Spend a few minutes focusing on your breath. As you inhale, count “1” and on the exhale, count “2.” Continue this inhaling and exhaling until you’ve reached a count of 10 and begin again. Do this for five minutes each day.
Exercise builds endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, and helps reduce stress.
There are many different types of yoga, some more active and others gentler and slower moving. Meditation also comes in different sizes and shapes, there are even walking meditations. The important thing is to find what works for you.
Operating on insufficient sleep may lead to distorted perceptions and contribute to stress.
We can’t always change what is happening, but we can change how we view it. Sometimes stress reduction can be found in looking at an issue from a different perspective. Also, this shift in perspective may reveal new approaches to resolving the issue.