It can be hard to make healthy choices. We get that, America. From the instant gratification of cheap fast food to the procrastination and excusing mentality of “Maybe tomorrow” and “I’m not feeling it today,” to the busy business of careerists and family obligations, there are a number of things that get in the way of the living the healthy lifestyle you’ve entertained for a good portion of your life. That’s right, we see that you like those quick morning workout routines and healthy recipes on social media. We know you drive by the gym and humor the idea of signing up. We know you want your doctor to stop nagging you. But, man, does being healthy have to be such a chore?
We here at Health Fitness Revolution have decided to make a list of the top ten health tips for Americans to help each and every one of you transform into the healthier, better version of yourself. If you follow these guidelines, the road to becoming healthy may be smooth and relatively painless (soreness from working out not included; bonus: that soreness if proof your muscles are building themselves up, proof that the progress is real!).
- Get eight hours of sleep a night- While you sleep, your body repairs itself against the stress you put it through in a regular day, both physical and mental stress. Being well-rested is proven to boost your immune system as those who sleep less are more susceptible to sickness. During sleep, the brain also processes all the information of the day, filtering between transitive memories that can be dismissed to storing short-term and long-term information for easier recall. The more you sleep, the more you retain! Sleep also makes you feel generally better, and allows for clearer thinking, enabling you to work and play more efficiently!
- Consume two and a half cups of vegetables daily – Veggies boost your immune system and generally reduce the risk for diabetes. Loaded with necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, your body will be able to have increased functions such as digestive ability, cognitive function, and cell damage repair while decreasing the risk and onset of various illnesses. These benefits, of course, depending on which vegetables you regularly consume.
- Drink more water – Our bodies are 60 percent water, and daily functions in our body require that much water as you may have guessed. What you probably didn’t know is that water helps regulate body temperature, clears our skin by flushing out toxins, fights sickness, and boosts cognitive function. A suggested daily intake of water is between 10 to 16 cups depending on weight (the more you weigh the more you drink), exercise level (drink more with increased levels of exercise), age (as you get older you need to drink more), and gender (men should drink more on average). Another suggestion is half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should drink 65 fluid ounces of water at a minimum.
- Exercise daily – Exercise improves your mood and boosts your energy levels; it’s a natural antidepressant and stress reliever and just so happens to lead to physical fitness while improving quality of sleep. To maintain a healthy weight and figure, Americans should aim for a baseline of 30-45 minutes 4-5 times a week. Don’t be afraid to up the amount of time you spend working out. The more you work out, the more you stand to gain.
- Replace white bread and grains with whole-grain – Refined grains like the ones used to make white bread and bread products have had most of their nutrients stripped from them. Whole grains are a better fiber source and contain magnesium, potassium, and selenium, and are also more filling, enabling you to eat less than your standard white bread but still give you that satisfying “I’m full” feeling.
- Curb your sweet tooth by eating low-calorie fruit – This is a pretty straightforward tip: when your late-night cravings for sugar pounce upon you unexpectedly, simply reach for the fruit first. More times than not this will satisfy your desire for something sweet because the fruit is naturally high in sugars (good sugars, to boot!). It’s the best of both worlds really: you get to satisfy that hankering without killing the calorie count. Check out some of our healthy desserts – most of which contain fruit and all a guilt-free! Just make sure to pick lower glycemic fruits such as berries.
- Pay attention, portion control – When your protein covers over half of your plate, it’s time to cut that portion in half! Fill the newly found space on your plate with vegetables or fruit. Avoid overloading on carbs and calorie-heavy sides like baked potatoes (fixings included), too, and always be mindful of what you’re eating, the nutritional content and why you’re eating. If you eat simply because it’s a mindless activity or you’re feeling particularly emotional, it’s best to cut those habits in favor of overall health.
- Mix up your mixers with water – Plan to go out drinking with the squad? While it’s ideal you may want to abstain from the empty calories and avoid alcohol altogether, it may not be the most sociable trick. What you can do, however, is add a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you consume. Add a slice of fruit with it for flavor, order fizzy water, even get it in a martini glass if you fear feeling out of place during cocktail hour. This trick will help you combat snacking at the bar and keep those liquid calories from stacking up.
- Spice up meals – Spices raise body temperature and increase satiety (that is, make you feel fuller while you eat less). Hot peppers, in particular, are known to increase your metabolism – the rate at which your body burns energy; the higher you have, the more you burn, which is great for all those extra calories. Spices also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may even aid in cancer treatment.
- Don’t wait – add weight! – Pound for pound, muscle weighs more than fat, so it might sound counterproductive to add weights to your workout routine if your goals are to drop pounds. Women in particular also fear to get fat. The truth is that building muscle in the way that bodybuilders do usually occurs as existing fat is being burned off while bulking up occurs when muscle builds up over existing fact. If you cut calories in your diet while supplementing a cardio workout with weight, you will primarily burn fat and slim down.