Everywhere I look, people are going big and going hard in the pursuit of their health and fitness goals.
That approach might be suitable or necessary for some people but frankly, it’s kinda scary for anyone who’s not prepared to toss brunch, coffee, weekend sleep-ins or anything else they hold dear overboard. Furthermore, doing so is not always going to be sustainable.
The good news: making small changes to your existing routine can have an impact. You mightn’t see huge, visible, Instagram-fodder results, but that doesn’t mean you’re not doing your health a big favour.
Easy food tweaks
1. Say no to a cheap upsize when ordering takeaway
A simple ‘No, thanks’ will save you from an “unnecessary increase in total and saturated fat,” says Katherine Baqleh, an Accredited Practising Dietitian from Health Victory Nutrition Experts.
It’ll also prevent you from mindlessly eating when, let’s be honest, you’re probably not that hungry.
Watch: Maybe try this delicious Dani Venn recipe at home instead? (Post continues after video.)
2. Choose skim milk over full cream in your coffee
Your beloved latte will deliver the same amount of calcium and protein (and caffeine), just with less fat, Baqleh says.
3. Pick brown or Basmati rice
Making a stir-fry or curry (or, ah, ordering one from Menulog)? Swap your jasmine rice for for basmati or brown, as these varieties have a lower GI and will give you a slower release of energy.
4. Share your dessert
I know, I know — but fitting dessert in after a ol’ big restaurant meal can be a challenge for even the mightiest sweet tooth. Baqleh recommends going halvies with a friend; this way, you’ll get the sugar hit with half the calories.
Sharing is caring... (Image: iStock)
5. Save chips for a treat snack
Fact: potato chips are delicious. Another fact: they're not exactly an "every day" kind of snack. For most days, choose an alternative.
"Enjoy a handful of nuts and seeds, popcorn or roasted Moroccan chickpeas instead of potato crisps - [you'll get] more protein and fibre and less saturated fat," Baqleh says.
6. Bake your potato
As the ancient proverb goes, 'A life without potato is a very sad life indeed'. So don't banish your beloved starch altogether — just go for a baked tater instead of hot chips as a side at dinner time (less fat, more fibre and protein).
To go a step further, Baqleh recommends adding some steamed veggies and salad.
You can't tell me baked potatoes aren't delicious. (Image: iStock)
7. Go for dark chocolate over milk or white
As a lifelong milk chocolate devotee, I'm never going to tell you to stop eating it forevermore. That would be insane. But! If you have a regular chocolate habit, consider choosing a dark variety most of the time.
"You will satisfied on a smaller amount, and it has heart health benefits," Baqleh says.
8. Make water your go-to drink
Saw this one coming, didn't you? "Replace juice and soft drinks with water or light milk (less sugar and less processing)," Baqleh says.
"Jazzed up water with lemon and raspberries, or lime, mint and cucumber gives you a tasty twist, while milk gives you protein and a slow release of energy." (Post continues after gallery.)
9. Choose fresh fruit over juice
"Juice is a concentrated form of sugar that is less filling and contains less fibre than fresh fruit," Baqleh explains.
Also, Australia's fresh fruit produce is wonderful, so why not take advantage of that?
10. Tweak your mindset
"Allowing yourself to enjoy and savour a small treat when you have a genuine craving for it will prevent you from feeling deprived and will result in fewer cravings for that food. Deprivation never works in the long term," Baqleh says.
Easy fitness tweaks
11. Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier
It might be painful at first, but Personal Trainer and IsoWhey Sports athlete Nardia Norman says giving yourself those extra 10 minutes in the morning can make a significant difference. And you don't even need to physically leave your bed.
"Use this time to do breathing exercises, which will relax the mind and get your ready for your day," Norman recommends.
Seriously. It's just 10 minutes... (Image: iStock)
12. Do the coffee run
Channel your inner Katniss Everdeen and volunteer as office coffee run tribute whenever you can — not only will it make you seem like a selfless and generous saint, it'll force you to get up and move. Hey, nobody has to know there's an ulterior motive.
"Instead of waiting for large order to brew, go for a walk around the block whilst you wait," Norman adds.
13. Get up every now and then
By now, you're probably aware that sitting all day isn't ideal. Combating its effects doesn't have to take a lot of time or effort.
"Set reminders at 90 minute intervals to stand up and stretch for a few minutes, you’ll see the difference in your mobility and flexibility," Norman suggests. This doesn't have to be ostentatious, either — if nobody's in the kitchen, sneak in there and stretch away.
Watch: Doing some yoga at home will also help. Try these Paper Tiger stretches. (Post continues after video.)
14. Drink up
Maintaining an adequate fluid intake is important, so do yourself a favour by making it easy and accessible. "Keep a mint, lemon and celery infused bottle of water on your desk – challenge yourself to finish the bottle a few times before home time," Norman says.
15. "Just do it" (thanks, Nike)
If you ask Norman, incorporating physical activity into your life needn't be complex.
"It doesn’t matter what form of exercise or movement you choose, just make sure you are doing something on a daily basis. The key to improving your fitness and health is consistency, so once you start do not break the chain," she explains.
"Alternate days of huffy-puffy exercise with lower intensity exercise every other day, and you will see improvements in your fitness, health and body shape."
Good luck out there.
What's one simple thing you do for your health every day?
*Featured image via iStock