With the New Year here many of us are making resolutions and with any luck we will manage to stick to them for few weeks at least.  Yes, it’s the same story I’m going to give up this and change that and stop doing this and do that more, blah blah blah blah blah.  The fact is that most of us won’t manage to get very far with our resolutions unless we have made proper lifestyle changes rather than just deciding we will do the proposed task(s).  By mid February or by the latest early March the gyms which are getting pretty full at the moment will be much quieter, there will be an increase in the sale of alcohol and cigarettes, sweet and fatty foods.  It’s a trap many of us fall into year upon year.  We need to make actual lifestyle changes that we incorporate into our day to day lives in order to see a more long lasting and in hopefully many cases a permanent change.  Once we have made a habit that has been permanently incorporated into our lives then will we see a marked improvement in our well being.

Here are my Top 5 Habits that you Should Incorporate into your Daily Routine.

Yes, we hear it everywhere increase your water intake, you need to drink this much each day and then that’s it.  You are left to fend for yourself.  I am here to help you is establish a routine.  Once you get into a routine of drinking water you will notice that you increase your intake without much hassle.  You will automatically start to reach for the water at certain times of the day and this will help you in numerous ways.  Start with drinking 1-2 glasses in the morning when you get up, the same an hour before lunch and again two hours before bed.  The spacing is for obvious reasons but those unsure of why I have set those particular timings here is a quick simple explanation.

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First thing in the morning – over night whilst you sleep your body loses water through breathing and also via evaporation from the skin and if it is hot you lose even more through sweat.  By drinking water first thing you replace this.  My advice keep a bottle (500ml minimum) next to your bed so you can easily replace water loss without forgetting and missing the time slot.  The water also helps kick start your organs into in a sense waking them up so use that to your favour.

An hour before lunch – the reason for the gap here is firstly you don’t want to drink water to close to having had the first glass or two.  The idea isn’t to over load the body and over work the kidneys.  Also importantly if you drink a bottle of water before eating you can help the body feel fuller for longer and it can help reduce snacking just before lunch.  You need water to carry out the process of digestion, you can also drink more water as you eat as otherwise the processes carried out digesting what you have eaten can dehydrate.  Some people say that drinking water with a meal will affect gastric acid by diluting it so that the body doesn’t break down foods sufficiently.  This would only be relevant if you drink too much water a glass of two with your meal shouldn’t affect your stomach acids too much.

Drinking water an hour and a half to two hours before bed; allows for you to further increase your water intake and also as it’s not too close to bed you will have plenty of time to process this and eliminate excess fluids (urinate) before bed.  It takes from a few minute to about two hours to process the water.

By doing this alone you help to flush out toxins, improve the functioning of various body organs and find that you actually feel better for it, your skin will look brighter and more plump, you might even lose a little weight and you will feel more alert too.  With all that just from making drinking water part of your daily routine it’s really a no brainer.

It’s not always easy to increase the amount of exercise that you do but getting into a routine of moving that bit more can make a difference.

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Power walks at lunch time are a great way to do this.  Adding in a power walk into your daily routine even if it’s just for 20-25 minutes will really make a difference to your health.  It will help boost circulation, improve stamina, improve brain function and more.  Coupled with an increase in water intake it will really help to detoxify the body more efficiently.  Why not get a lunch time walking club together with like minded colleagues as this is a wonderful way to keep you motivated.  Add in some fitbits or something similar and you can get a bit of healthy competition going too.  Can’t fit it in during lunch, no problem a quick walk before or after work will do just as well, just get out there and pound that pavement!

I work on my own (I know it’s a lit lonely but that’s the nature of my work) and will walk on my own or with other mums.  I found a setting on the fitbit where you can do daily challenges and you can compete against friends wherever they are.  It does motivate me to get off my bottom and get walking and if I can’t go out I might go for a quick jog in front of the tv, the kids think it’s funny and join in too.

Want to do your exercise in the privacy of your own home?  Sure, why not it’s not always something we want to do with others if you lack the confidence to do so, just don’t make excuses not too, go for it.  Get your hands on a fitness dvd tailored to your level or even just pop some music on and have a  little dance, it’s fun and helps get you moving.  You can even find free fitness tutorial on YouTube.  Don’t forget to stretch and also if you suffer from any health problems that might be affected by exercise consult your doctor first.

Cut the Cr*p.  Eat Good Quality dark Chocolate

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Yes, I am saying you can eat chocolate isn’t it fabulous!  Why on earth cut out the foods you love when you really don’t have to.  Chocolate can be good for you but you need to go for quality which in effect will reduce the quantity you will consume as it tastes so much better and seems to satisfy the craving much faster than the cheaper alternatives which are full of sugar, increas sugar cravings and addiction and contain vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter.  Chocolate can be great for you, it’s full of nutrients including, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper,  zinc, selenium and also fibre.  Chocolate contains antioxidants for a start which have anti ageing properties and can fight illness.  In some studies carried it has been indicated that chocolate may help lower LDL – low density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol), raise HDL (good cholesterol) and prevent memory decline (and there I go reaching for some dark chocolate).  Finnish studied have show chocolate consumption can help reduce the risk of stroke by 17%.  It can also help prevent against some forms of sun damage due to its flavanoid content although I would still recommend wearing that high factor daily as for reasons I will explain a little later.

The Neuroscientist Will Clower believes that chocolate can help us eat less and lose weight.  Apparently if you place a square of good quality chocolate (dark chocolate) on your tongue and allow it to melt twenty minutes prior to eating and also again 5 minutes after eating to help reduce snacking.  How does this work?  Dark chocolate is more bitter than milk and white chocolate.  This bitterness is thought to have a knock on effect by slowing down the rate of stomach emptying by 30% for up to forty five minutes after a meal.  This helps regulate sugar absorption into the blood preventing too much insulin being produced and also prevents the blood sugar levels dropping dramatically up to an hour and a half after the meal.  The stable sugar level means you won’t crave a sweet snack.

So that’s a square before and after meals so don’t get too carried away and also take note it is suggested that you let the chocolate slowly melt on the tongue rather than chewing quickly and gulping down loads more which would of course defeat the purpose.  I think it’s more enjoyable to let it melt on the tongue slowly as you get to enjoy the flavour if only we had some chocolate left in he house that hubby and the mini chocolate monsters hadn’t eaten.

For those that say they don’t like dark chocolate if you really want to you can.  You can train yourself to eat dark chocolate by changing the chocolate you eat to one that is slightly darker than your normal chocolate, eat a little each day for one to two weeks depending on how sweet a tooth you have.  By that stage your taste should have adapted and you should be ready to go darker if you are not on a minimum of 70% cocoa solids.

Wear a Sunfactor Daily – That means in the Winter too.

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In the Summer I wear a factor 50 it’s easy to do with the sunnier and warmer days as a reminder.  It’s not so easy to remember at the start of the winter but I sure do try my hardest.  I have made a point of keeping my suncream somewhere that will remind me to use it on a daily basis.  Once the routine has been set up there is no stopping me.  Why should you follow suit?  Were you aware the suns harmful rays can still cause skin damage anytime of the year whether it’s Summer or Winter.  Although UVB radiation isn’t as strong in the winter UVA is still there causing permanent damage to our skin and causing us to age faster.  Not wearing a sunfactor can result in freckles age spots, fine wrinkles appearing.  It can also break down your skins collagen and interfer with the formation of new collagen.  It also affects elastin in the skin resulting in the skin appearing loose and an increase in wrinkles.  Not sounding to good now is it.  I’m sure many of you are now reaching for the sunfactor or thinking of getting some in.  Don’t forget it’s not just the face that needs it.  Your hands if you don’t wear loves are also exposed to the suns rays so they will need it too.  I can hear some of you saying, “but it’s cloudy, we don’t need sun protection!”.  Unfortunately this isn’t the case.  Even during days when it is cloudy at least 80% of UV radiation can still get through so make it a daily routine and you will reap the benefits well into old age.  We know it’s good to be prepared well this is one of those times it really counts.

Eat Whole Foods as Often as Possible

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Firstly why should you eat whole foods?

Whole foods provide a range of nutrients that are beneficial to our well being.  When we move away from whole foods a perfect example being juices an imbalance occurs.  In most juices fruit will be used to make this more palatable.  That’s not a good thing as the fibre which many of us don’t get enough of is removed and the sugar content becomes excessive.  High sugar levels result in a peak before they drop drastically resulting in very strong sugar cravings and the desire to snack.  We want to avoid this don’t we!

It’s said over and over that we need to eat whole foods and that we need a minimum of 5 pieces of fruit & vegetables a day.  As we get older and our taste adapts making this far easier.  The best way to increase your whole food intake is making this a regular feature for each meal.  It’s shocking how some do not include any vegetables or fruits in some of their meals.  My suggestion would be to make sure you have a minimum of two to three vegetables per meal and if you must snack in between (don’t worry it’s not a problem in fact it can be a good thing) make sure you have some vegetable sticks or fruit.  Personally I would remove juices from the diet and give preference to smoothies drunk in moderation. The addition of these will help improve your digestion and transit of waste from the body (yes that second part refers to to pooping), reduce the risk of sugar highs and lows which cause binge eating, help maintain your weight and even assist in weight loss, increase your energy levels and make you feel fabulous.

Now that wasn’t so hard was it!

These 5 simple lifestyle changes can have a dramatic effect on your life making you feel and look fabulous so what are you waiting for get walking with work colleagues after work or go to the school 20 minutes earlier with another mum or two for a brisk walk, don’t forget your whole food snacks and bottle of water and make sure you are wearing that sunfactor.  Remember you can have that little piece of chocolate before and after your meal so dangle that in front of you and pick up the pace and leave the old less healthy you from 2016 in the dust.

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Which of these habits if not all do you plan on taking up this year?

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