When it comes to losing weight or making other significant changes in our lives, people tend to think that willpower is the answer — and then beat themselves up for a perceived lack of willpower when their efforts fail. But research indicates that there’s something far more important than willpower when it comes to achieving our goals: building habits.
Your daily habits are everything! Even seemingly small habits can add up to big results over time. If you want to improve your health and lose weight, start adding healthy habits into your daily routine. One of the great things about habits is that you can build on them over time. Many people try to overhaul their diet all at once, and then give up when the change proves to be too drastic. Instead, try starting with a few small habits, and add more once you have those mastered.
Take a look at these 10 healthy habits you can start doing today. These habits will make your life better, and if you follow them with dedication, you’ll no doubt lose weight along the way!
1. Move the way nature intended
These days, a sedentary lifestyle is the norm. We sit in cars while we commute to work. We sit at desks in front of computers all day. We sit at tables to eat our meals. We sit on couches and watch TV. All this sitting is making us sick! To improve your health and lose weight, you need to move your body. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hit the gym.
Moving in natural ways — the way our ancestors did — is one of the best habits you can adopt today. Walk more. Stand more. Lift heavy objects more. Play with your kids or grandkids. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Use a push mower instead of a riding mower. Build more movement into your daily routine, and you’ll naturally get all the exercise you need to stay healthy.
2. Eat real food, mostly plants
Plant-based foods are the most nutrient dense. If you make the majority of your food on your plate a plant food, you’ll improve your health in spades. And no, bread doesn’t count, even though it’s made from wheat. Nor do starchy foods like corn or potatoes. Think foods that are as close to their natural state as possible: low-glycemic fruits and veggies, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Weight loss is typically an added benefit of switching to a largely plant-based diet. So, get into the habit of having a salad before every meal, and make at least half your plate veggies.
3. Follow the 80/20 rule
The Okinawans in Japan follow something called the 80/20 rule. This means you eat until you’re 80% full — not 100% or 110% like so many of us do. Many studies have proven how eating less improves your health. Obviously, if you’re eating less overall, you’re consuming fewer calories — but the benefits go beyond calorie restriction. You’re also putting less strain on your digestive system, which allows it to do its job more efficiently. In turn, your body has more energy left over for things like cellular repair and regeneration.
4. Keep a food journal
Writing down everything you eat allows you to really see and understand what you feed your body each day. You can’t manage what you don’t monitor. It’s far too easy (and common) to eat mindlessly, snacking on sweets and potato ships without paying attention to how much you’re eating. Keeping a food and drink journal creates mindfulness around what you eat — a wonderful habit to make if you want to lose weight or improve your overall health.
5. Stress less
Stress is responsible for the majority of doctor’s visits these days. Stress wreaks havoc on our overall quality of life, and needs to be managed in order to stay healthy. It even contributes to weight gain. To properly manage stress, make sure you make time for self-care whenever you can. This may mean saying no to a social invitation because you need time to relax at home. Yoga, meditation, spending time in nature, laughing with friends, taking solitary walks, gardening, doing something creative, letting go of the need to control — these are all wonderful ways to de-stress.
6. Drink red wine in moderation
Do you have a penchant for red wine? If you can drink it moderately — as in a glass or two on average each day — it may help you lose weight. A 2015 study, published by researchers at Washington State University, explains how a compound found in red wine known as resveratrol turns white fat into obesity-fighting beige fat. How’s that for a nice weight loss surprise?
7. Have faith
Do you have faith in a power greater than yourself? Having a faith — any kind of faith — has been proven to improve health in many ways. Cultivating your spiritual nature is healthy. This doesn’t have to mean organized religion. A love of nature counts, or a spiritual practice such as yoga.
8. Live on purpose
Some studies suggest taking early retirement can lead to an early death. While this sounds extreme, there is some truth in it. We all need a reason to get up in the morning. We need to feel that our lives have purpose. It’s essential to improve your health by staving off depression and complacency — two states of mind that can definitely lead to weight gain. That doesn’t mean you need to stay in a job you don’t enjoy if you’re ready to retire. But if you do retire, stay active. Volunteer. Stay enthused. Stay interested in life. Find something that you can look forward to every day.
9. Enjoy home-cooked meals
It’s so much fun to eat out, but it’s so expensive! It’s also really hard to lose weight if you eat out often. The meals served at restaurants are typically full of processed foods. They also come in really large portions. Most of us end up eating far more at a restaurant than we would if we were enjoying a meal at home.
Dressings and sauces at restaurants are almost always made with sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils, both which contribute to weight gain. And you never really know what’s going into the food you’re eating. Home-cooked meals, on the other hand, are far healthier. You get to choose the ingredients and make smarter choices at home. So, get an inspiring cookbook and make a mess in the kitchen! Experiment with substitutions, like zucchini noodles instead of pasta. You may stumble upon some new favorites!
10. Drink water before meals
The more water you drink, the better. The majority of Americans are chronically dehydrated. We’re drinking our calories in the form of soft drinks, sports drinks, and sugary, fizzy beverages. But drinking adequate amounts of pure, clean water will no doubt lead to improved health and weight loss. And if you drink some water before meals, you may even lose weight faster. A 2015 study published in the journal Obesity explains how drinking water before meals — also known as water preloading — leads to moderate weight loss.
Need help meeting your weight-loss goals? SmartFit Weight Loss offers personalized weight-loss plans to help you look and feel your best. Contact us today to schedule a no-cost consultation!