Guest blog: Small, Budget-Friendly Changes That Can Make a Big Difference in Your Health


— by Jennifer McGregor

1.png

Photo by Pexels

Making your health a priority doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon, eat nothing but vegetables, or make other drastic changes to your lifestyle. In fact, drastic changes — regardless of how healthy — could do the opposite. For example, think about how many times you have jumped on the bandwagon of the latest fad diet. You probably lost some weight rather quickly, but it’s unlikely the weight stayed off. That’s because those diets require you to make immediate, unsustainable changes to the way you eat. In order to make healthy habits that stick, you have to make slow, gradual changes that add into your life as opposed to adding on

Are you among the many people looking to incorporate some healthy habits into your everyday activities? It’s not as hard as you might think! Here are suggestions for small changes that can add up to a big impact — but won’t add up to costs!

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, instead of worrying about something in the past — that you cannot change — or fixating on the future — that you cannot predict. When you find yourself trapped in the past or the future, find a quiet spot to close your eyes and listen to your breath. When thoughts intrude on your solitude, acknowledge them, but don’t follow them. This will come in handy for those moments when you feel guilty for eating that extra cookie or frustrated when the scale isn’t falling fast enough. If you’re having trouble grasping the art of mindfulness, there are several free smartphone apps that can aid you in the process.

Smile Big 

Good oral hygiene can impact both your physical and mental health in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Visiting the dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings can help prevent diseases like periodontitis and gingivitis. But good oral health also plays a part in preventing illness in other parts of your body, too, like diabetes and heart disease. And, believe it or not, mental health is linked to oral health, too! If you are confident in your smile, you will smile and laugh more often. If you’ve been avoiding the dentist or need to find a new one, look to your dental coverage for direction and couple with an online search to find a dentist in your neighborhood. What’s more, by staying on top of cleaning and checkups, you’ll prevent serious — and costly — dental problems from developing down the road. 

Get on a Mat

Yoga is one of the most beneficial ways to boost mental and physical health. You can go to a class at a studio or at the gym, but you can also practice at home, too. You don’t need fancy clothes or gear — if you can breathe then you are already practicing yoga! Start simple with a 15-minute energizing routine in the morning or deep, relaxing stretches in the evening. Try to work your way up to a full 60-minute practice. Yoga is also a great healthy bonding activity to do with your kids — naturally bendy in mind and body— at home, in a class or at the park. If you’re unsure about poses, there are a lot of quality, free instructional videos online.

Of course, the one piece of equipment you might need to get started is pretty straightforward: a yoga mat. Fortunately, you can affordable yoga mats at a number of retailers, and using promo codes and coupons at stores such as Dicks Sports Goods can help you save money.

Cut Out One Food Vice

Healthy eating should be a journey. Start small and simple — and only make one change at a time. For example, you can stop putting sugar in your coffee or eat a salad before every meal. It helps to log your current food habits before you make changes so you know what you’re dealing with. For instance, you may think you only have one or two sodas a day, but after you log your food for a week you could see that the reality — at least on some days — is very different. Cutting out soda entirely at first may be too challenging, but cutting out soda at dinner could be an effective way to ease yourself into a soda-free life — and it can also help you add a few more dollars into your household budget at the same time! If you want to take on bigger diet changes, think about talking to your doctor about your plans. Since he or she knows your biggest health concerns, you’ll get good insight that you might miss on your own.

Make “Me” Time

Self-care is another angle for improving health and reducing stress. Self-care might seem selfish for someone with a busy schedule — school, work or kids will always have to come first. But carving out 15 to 30 minutes every day for yourself can do wonders for helping you manage stress and prevent burnout. If you’re always putting your own needs on the back burner, you’ll eventually have nothing to give. Self-care doesn’t have to be a big event (though it can be and that’s okay). Wake up 10 minutes earlier and enjoy a cup of coffee in silence. Take a bubble bath with music and a book at the end of the day. Walk in the sunshine and listen to your favorite podcast during your lunch break. Prioritize things that make you happy, so you are better able to spread happiness to others. Here’s the best part: Setting aside a little time for yourself doesn’t require you to spend any money whatsoever if you don’t want to!

Healthy habits don’t have to be major changes in order to be life-changing. You want to make your effort stick so that these changes turn into habits, which simply turn into the way you live. Find joy in making healthy, budget-minded decisions by thinking about the short-term and long-term benefits, both for you and your family.


About the author:

Jennifer McGregor co-created Public Health Library to write about health and wellness topics. She is a pre-med student who aims to make it easier for people to find high-quality health info in one place.

Advertisements

Guest Blog: Don’t Break Your Healthy Eating on Vacation!


Guest blogger: Cole Millen

I have been contacted by Cole Millen, an avid traveler and foodie. Here is a post he wanted to share with us. Thank you Cole for considering my blog.

Don’t Break Your Healthy Eating on Vacation!

Just because you are taking a break and going on vacation does not mean you should take a break from eating healthy. While it can be easy to reach for fast food or high fat snacks, a little planning and savvy thinking can help you to make the right choices when you are on the go!

Nutrition

At the airport:

Airports are full of unhealthy foods but if you look around you can find places with fresh fruit, water, and salads. In fact, use your downtime to walk around your terminal and get a little exercise. Use the stairs instead of the escalators! Get your blood pumping before you are stuck in an airplane for a few hours.

Most importantly, make sure to bring along some healthy snacks of your own that will curb your appetite and keep you from grabbing one of those high in sugar and fat items. These snacks can be dried fruits, vegetables, or even nuts!

At the hotel:

One of the most important parts of your vacation is finding the right hotel. After all, you are living there for the time being. It is important to make sure that your hotel offers the appropriate amenities and services that can accommodate to your healthy lifestyle. I have had trouble with this in the past but found that doing a little research beforehand can go a long way. On my most recent trip out west I found a great site that listed reviews for hotels in Las Vegas regarding not only their amenities and services, but also on the restaurants in the surrounding areas. This made it easier than ever to plan out my trip and to eat right while in and out of the hotel. Healthy_Eating (1)

Stop by a grocery store before you get to the hotel to grab some healthy foods. Almonds, fruit, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs are great for giving you an energy boost before you venture out for the day. Pack a few portioned out snacks and bottles of water in your bag when you head out so you aren’t left hungry and reaching for fried foods or sugary snacks. Also, ask your hotel to not stock the mini bar or to not give you a room service menu. They are there to accommodate you, so let them! Even better, look for places and hotels with a healthy edge before you go. Plenty of hotels now offer gyms, yoga studios, and healthy menus for their guests! Treat your vacation as a mini-spa getaway!

At the restaurant:

Speak up when choosing a place to eat with your group. Try to find a place that has healthier options and scope out their online menu before you go. When in doubt, choose lean protein with veggies for a side. Avoid carbohydrate-rich (and calorie laden) entrees and ask for your dish without heavy sauces or oils. If you’re totally lost, look for entrees that have lots of vibrant colors. Usually foods that are bland colors (whites, tans, browns) are the ones with the most.

calories and fat. Also, be weary of tempting restaurant salads. They can sometimes pack in as many as 1500 calories!

Above all, try to drink lots of water when you travel. Flying and restaurant foods are very dehydrating and can leave you zapped of energy. Also, try popping a multi-vitamin and fitting in a little exercise when you can. It may be tempting to let go of your diet when you travel, but it will likely leave you feeling sluggish and disappointed with yourself. Eating healthy and taking care of your body should be an all time habit, not just when it’s easy.

— Cole Millen

Cole

Cole Millen is an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life’s best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate “experiences.”