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.