Small Steps to a Healthier You

Little changes can mean a lotI hate dieting.

It’s not that I don’t want to lose a few pounds or feel healthier overall, but I hate following someone else’s rules.  “Go on this diet and change everything about your life.”  For me, it just seems impossible.

Over the past few years, though, I have been able to make changes in my life.  I’m really proud because I’ve been able to stick to them and probably will for the rest of my life.

Maybe there are small changes that you can make in your life that will lead to a healthier future.  Look these small steps over and see if they might be a fit for your life.

Healthy Change #1:  Nix the soda.

Whatever you call it (pop, coke, soda or tonic), fizzy sugary drinks are terrible for you.  Drinking one can a day can add 16 pounds of weight over the course of a year.  What should you drink instead?  Water, and lots of it.  If leaving the soda entirely is too difficult, a great step down is a custom drink of 100% fruit juice mixed with equal parts of plain seltzer water.  It’s fizzy and mildly sweet, but contains far less sugar than soda.  You’ll get some vitamin C as well.

Healthy Change #2:  Make over your popcorn.

Microwave popcorn may be easy and fast, but it’s drenched in unhealthy fats and chemicals.  True, making your own at home is a little more work.  Taste stovetop popcorn though, and microwavable will forever seem like a cheap substitute.  To make your own, you’ll need a large soup pot (also called a dutch oven) with a lid that fits well.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive, coconut, or grapeseed oil into the bottom of the pot and turn the heat to medium-high.  Throw in enough kernels to coat the bottom of the pan.

Stay right with the pan.  Every 20 seconds, while holding on the lid and keeping the pot in contact with the burner, give the pot a shake.  As the heat rises and you hear the kernels sizzle, shake a little more often.  Continue until the pops slow down, then pull the pan off  the heat.  Put in a large bowl, and toss with salt. Don’t try this with a ceramic-top stove though – it may scratch.

You can get creative and toss with barbecue seasoning, Parmesan cheese, or other herbs and spices.  Preparing it fresh gives you a source of healthy fats, fiber, and no preservatives or potentially dangerous chemicals.

Healthy Change #3:  Upgrade your French fries.

I don’t need to tell you how bad french fries are for you.  Whether you buy them at a fast food restaurant or dump them into a fryer from a frozen food bag, you’re eating unhealthy fats, simple carbohydrates, chemicals and preservatives.  Try this instead:  Wash an un-peeled sweet potato, cut into strips with a sharp knife, and lay the strips out on a baking sheet.  Brush the sweet potato fries with olive oil, and sprinkle with just a little sea salt. Roast in the oven till done (depending on how thick you sliced the fries, the time will vary).

What’s so great about these fries?  First of all, they’re going to satisfy your carb cravings.  But instead of empty calories, sweet potatoes pack a punch of nutritional value.  You’ll be chowing down on a good amount of vitamin C, fiber, protein, and healthy fat; but best of all, you’ll get four times the RDA of vitamin A.

Healthy Change #4:  Take a Multivitamin.

This one really is a no-brainer.  With our busy lives, it’s so hard to make sure we are getting all the vitamins and minerals we need each day.  As you work on your nutrition goals, have peace of mind knowing that you’re giving your body the building blocks it needs.  With all the options available, it’s a great idea to consult your pharmacist about a multivitamin regimen.  You’ll be able to get his or her personalized recommendations for you.

Small changes can make a big difference.  Little things can build on each other, leading to bigger and better steps than you thought possible.

Why not look at your life too and see what little steps you can make?

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