This is NOT a "new year, new you" plan. Nor is it a detox! In fact, it's the Anti-Detox.
Introducing lifestyle tweaks you can make TODAY that will make a huge difference if you stick to them - now and forever. 'Cause they're actually doable. With minimal effort and maximum impact.
Here's what we've learnt on our 10 year health journey to help you on your way to a clearer mind, fuller heart and healthier body.
1. Don't go too hard, too soon
Instead of starting a training program that's 5 days a week, hardcore and that takes monumental effort to keep up, just start doing something, anything, twice a week. Every single week. Of your life. It's a much easier commitment and one that you will stick to - wait for it - forever! Because that is how long you need to do it for :)
Once you're into the twice a week habit, you can go up to three or four or five times a week, and it means that when you slack off (and you will, we all do), you will still do something twice a week in your slack-off period, until you get back to more sessions.
That twice a week is gold, my friends, gold.
It will lift your mood, get you back on the training track, develop strong, healthy muscles and ratchet up your metabolism. Most importantly, it creates habit, so doing this becomes completely normal. Just start.
2. Experiment With Sugar
I gave up sugar to have babies, so I really know how hard it is to give up the white stuff. But for many years I would quit sugar for months and then binge on sugar for months, in an up-down cycle that did nobody any favours. Then I launched a health section for Fairfax newspapers and spoke to about a million experts!
And I started experimenting with non-refined sugar. I thought all sugar was created equally. It's not.
So now I make desserts with dates, or monkfruit extract, or rice malt syrup, maybe a tablespoon of honey here and there. They are sweet and taste gooooood. None of these raises my sugar levels or make me put on weight or make me bloated, full and in a 'sugar slump' after eating it. Say goodbye to the sugar coma, in fact, and welcome lovely, even energy levels.
They actually satisfy my sugar cravings which is the BIGGEST THING. Because we all have sugar cravings, but honestly if you make a healthy dessert on a Sunday and then eat it s-l-o-w-l-y all week, you'll have much better luck saying no to the tub of Maggie Beer Chocolate and Salted Caramel icecream when your period comes around. Cause you'll already have something better tasting (kind of, ha) in the fridge.
3. Eat More Food
Nothing's fun if you're hangry. And if you're not eating enough, whatever healthy eating plan you're trying to stick to won't last for long. Eat a decent amount of good food. What's good food? See here:
- Loads of vegetables.
- Enough fish/ chicken/ meat/ eggs/ beans /quinoa /lentils / barley with every meal.
- And good fats - you'll never be full without good fats plus your skin and hair will suffer for it. Extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, macadamia oil, a little bit of coconut oil, a little bit of butter (real butter, not margarine). No vegetable oil or seed oils.
- Fruit is fantastic, all kinds of fruit. Just don't eat a kilo of grapes in one sitting. Stick to 2-3 pieces a day and you'll be fine.
4. Ditch low-fat products
Low-fat foods don't make you skinny, they can make you fatter, because you eat more of other foods to make up for the fact that you're not actually full. Companies also add sugar to things like low-fat yoghurt to compensate for the lack of flavour from less fat. You're better off eating whole fat milk, yoghurt and cheese because in the long run, you'll eat less overall. Also you'll be happier. So much happier!
5. Think 80/20
It's not all or nothing. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Eat the pizza sometimes. Have a piece of chocolate cake. Your whole health routine is not over because of it! Just start again, immediately. The sooner you realise that it's okay to have a burger sometimes, the happier you'll be. Consistency is king here. If you outweigh unhealthy habits with healthy ones, guess what wins? Yes, your healthy self.
6. Get still
You can be as healthy as you like on the outside, but if your mind is frazzled it's not going to make you feel as good as you could. If you've never done it before, meditating is a really fantastic way to calm your mind, slow down and focus on what is really important. It can help you to be happy within yourself by reducing stress, helping with anxiety, lifting self-awareness and even help you concentrate for longer periods.
I interviewed meditation expert Tim Brown who said "If you're one of those people who says they can't find 20 minutes a day to meditate, you're the one who really needs it, because if you're so busy in your mind that 20 minutes is too much, that's when you know you need to slow down".
Make this the year to download an app or do a meditation course and get still.