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Tips for Maintaining Healthier Daily Habits

Tips for Maintaining Healthier Daily Habits

A healthier lifestyle happens one day at a time. If I sat down and looked at all the changes I would need to make in order to be the "healthiest" me, I'd get so overwhelmed that I'd likely quit, jump into my car, go to the nearest drive-thru and order a 20-piece box of chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce. It's not easy. It takes dedication and re-dedication. It takes motivation that can waver on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. It also takes having the proper knowledge.

I've spent these last 24 months trying to undo years of body abuse and gluttony. I have a precious 3-year-old niece and a darling 9-month-old nephew that provide me with renewed motivation to stay healthy. They are active, smart, fun little people that I need all of my energy and strength to keep up with. When I found myself getting winded easily and not having that strength, I realized that needed to change. I've had arthritis since I was 19 years old, before that, I was active in volleyball. I spent 11 years of my youth until the first year of college on the volleyball court. I played tennis, did kick-boxing, went on long hikes and, although I've always been a little overweight, I could do almost anything. Now that my arthritis has spread to almost every joint I have, I can’t go nuts in the gym or go for those intense workouts anymore. There are times I can barely get out of bed without crying from the pain. I've been in a wheelchair, I've had to use a cane and sometimes I walk with a limp. The only thing that I can really control is my diet. So I began to change how I view foods and what they can do for me. This is how I go about maintaining healthier daily habits.

1. Meal Prep

Yes, I know, it takes a ton of time, but when I lay out what I will eat for the day; I have a sense of fullness. Knowing that anything else is extra, helps me decide, do I need that extra candy bar? Should I have a scoop of ice cream? No, I don't need that burger; I have a great lunch right here!

2. Snack Prep

I'm a snacker, a terrible one in fact. Potato-based snacks are my go to! I love salty potato chips and fries. I can polish off an order of large fries and still consider having another; that's how much I love them! Carrying around snacks helps me fend off the cravings when they hit. A little baggie of raw, mixed nuts, a home-made (or store bought) granola bar, oven-roasted spiced chickpeas and edamame (recipes to come) or some type of fruit. They all help me on my long days.

3. Cut the Sugary Extras

I know you love those large-extra-whipped-cream-frozen-coffee-drink-thingies. I love those too! I'm not saying don't have them but, if you do, save it as a treat for the end of the week or order something a little simpler. When I visit coffee houses, I now order a small (or medium if it's a treat) iced coffee with sugar-free flavored syrup and a splash of low-fat milk. It's enough to feel like you've treated yourself without overdoing it.

4. Go Out to Eat

No, I'm serious! Yes, you want to be a healthier you but a healthier does NOT need to be a hermit. Go out with your friends or your significant other! Enjoy life and good food but be smart about your choices. Small little substitutions can add up in the long run. I usually check if restaurant will substitute certain sides for a salad. I say salad versus sautéed or roasted vegetables because I'm not sure how much fat they're using to cook said vegetables. I'll have a burger and not blink an eye; I just ask that my burger comes with a salad instead of fries. I always pick at my boyfriend's fries anyway.

5. Exercise

Exercise is important; we all know this and feel guilty when we don't. I no longer feel guilty about not exercising by normal standards. I refuse to kill myself at the gym knowing my body can't stand up to it. I do, however, play. I play with my niece when I take her to the park. We run, we jump, we chase, we play hide and seek and we rest; then we're up doing it all over again. I park a little further then my destination and get in a few extra steps while walking. I take a lap around the mall before I start shopping. I ask my boyfriend if we can take a walk after dinner so I can jump start my digestion.

These little things add to my stamina and overall health; they may not seem like much, but it's a start. You can't get to where you want to be, if you don't start.

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Brenda Kong is a paid spokesperson by LEO Pharma Inc. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect those of LEO Pharma Inc.

Any suggestions made are not intended to replace the advice of a qualified medical professional. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to making any changes to your treatment, exercise or diet routine.

All recipes are the intellectual property of the author. You may not publish, modify, or create derivative works based on the content available through this website.
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