Consider yourself healthy and active? With Summer on the horizon, there’s no doubt you’re putting your health at the top of your agenda to feel and look your best once the sunshine starts heading our way. Here, we have listed some small lifestyle changes that can make your healthy habits even healthier!
Healthy habit: Doing a HIIT class
Boost it: Incorporate weight training
HIIT classes and cardio-type exercise such as cycling can be great for your cardiovascular health, and burn lots of calories. But incorporating weight training or a strength training class into your workouts too can have other benefits. First, it can be better than cardio exercise for boosting metabolism outside your workout, making it the ideal complement to HIIT classes for fat loss or weight control. Strength training also helps protect and build your bone strength. If you’re worried about developing big muscles, don’t: weight training can be adapted for all types of body shapes and goals.
Healthy habit: Avoiding processed and packaged foods
Boost it: Meal prep your lunches
We all know the benefits of cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients as opposed to getting pre-packaged supermarket food or take-away. Why not go one step further and bring in your own lunches instead of heading to Pret for a sandwich?
Plan your meals a few days or a week in advance. By already knowing what you’re going to eat, you eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty. If you don’t have to think about what to eat at the following meal, you will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings.
Make large casseroles with lots of fresh vegetables and freeze for future meals or lunches. It is a good idea to meal prep on a Sunday, so that you are organised for the week ahead.
Healthy habit: Completing a 5km Park Run
Boost it: Sign up for a 10km fun run
If your 5k runs are going well, then consider signing up for a 10k. Working towards a new goal will motivate you to train harder and improve your fitness further. You’ll be surprised at how easy the 5k seems after that!
Healthy habit: Having a balanced breakfast
Boost it: Upping your protein
Having a healthy, balanced breakfast sets you up for the day and kick-starts your metabolism. To boost your breakfast even further, ensure you are including a good source of protein.
Including protein in your meal helps slow down digestion, leaving you feeling more satisfied and fuller for longer. This in turn can help with weight loss as you’re less likely to have as many calories. To ensure you’re getting your daily dose of protein, try a plant-based protein powder. They are easy to digest and can be kept low-calorie. They can be added to your morning smoothies or porridge bowl, and can also added to savory foods. We’d recommend Natures Plus Almond Protein Powder (£40.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk ).
Healthy habit: Skipping the sugar in your tea/coffee
Boost it: Culling the sugar from your baking
Cutting sugar out of your cup of tea or coffee can significantly lower your daily intake. To boost this healthy habit even more, try cutting out the sugar from your sweet treats and snacks, too.
In a nutshell refined sugar provides empty calories and has no nutritional value whatsoever! If you are making cakes, think of ways other than sugar to add sweetness. For example, you could add carrots, raisins, dates, figs or bananas as natural sweeteners. Many people now make wonderful cakes from naturally sweet vegetables such as beetroot and carrot.
For apple pies or crumbles use eating apples instead of cooking apples so you do not need to add sugar – you could always add raisins or sultanas to make a pie or crumble that little bit sweeter. Unsweetened date slice is wonderful because dates are naturally sweet. Other natural alternatives include maple syrup, barley malt syrup, brown rice syrup and stevia.
Healthy habit: Eating your 5 a day
Boost it: Switch to wholegrain staples
Swap your regular white bread, pasta and rice for brown and wholegrain alternatives to give your health an extra boost.
Swap to whole grain alternatives that release energy slowly. The carbohydrates in whole meal bread are broken down slowly over several hours and so do not give any sudden flooding of sugars into the bloodstream. Also, this gradual release helps you to feel full for longer, suppressing your appetite and stopping you craving sweet foods because you are not on the blood sugar rollercoaster.
Healthy habit: Getting your 7-8 hours of shut eye
Boost it: Add a magnesium supplement
Known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’, adding a magnesium supplement to your diet not only helps to assist in better sleeping patterns, but it also helps to relax your muscles and support your metabolism and energy levels.
A magnesium supplement may be beneficial for long-term support for your metabolism, especially if you lead a stressful lifestyle or have trouble sleeping. Magnesium is vital for energy metabolism and may be especially supportive for relaxation and sleep, too.
Healthy habit: Eating your lunch away from your desk
Boost it: Walk to work
We all know it’s important to step away from your desk during your lunch hour, but how about taking it a step further by increasing your daily steps. Whether you walk from home to work, or get off the tube a couple of stops earlier to walk the rest of the way, this helps to get your muscles moving, blood circulating and your heart rate pumping. Walk whenever you can, every day and walk briskly. Everywhere you go and in everything you do, try to consider how you can maximise the walking element.