If you want to get healthier but are feeling a little overwhelmed by the strides you need to make, check out our seven simple life hacks which will produce real change.
For many of us in a sedentary job, it’s easy to form bad habits such as snacking on high sugar foods, being too tired to exercise and getting complacent in taking care of ourselves. By making a few lifestyle changes, you can avoid the summer rush to get a beach body or plummet back into bad habits once winter hits.
Take the stairs
As simple as it sounds, trading the lift for the stairs can contribute a huge change to your day. If you’re someone with daily meetings, start off by using the stairs twice a day (up and down); not only will you build muscle tone but you’ll be burning more calories per minute than if you were out jogging!
Snacking on foods with poor nutritional value is the worst contributor towards an unhealthy lifestyle in a sedentary job, whether you’re a driver or at a desk. Wonder why you’re piling on the pounds? Some foods can be misleading and while you think you’re making the correct choice, often times you’re doing more harm. Below is a list of healthy versus less healthy snacks based on several different factors. Although it’s better to focus on nutritional value rather than calories, the below comparisons could help you choose your snacks more wisely.
- Protein bar
- Hummus & celery
- Skyr Yoghurt
- Dark chocolate
- Granola and yoghurt pot
- Dried Fruit
- Chocolate muffin
- Dairy Milk
In addition to our healthy versus less healthy list of options, too much fruit is not advisable with 2-3 pieces of fruit per day being the ideal. Too much sugar will be turned to fat and if you’re not putting that to good use, your waist band could be getting even tighter.
Choose low GI
Ever heard of low GI versus high GI but don’t know the difference? High GI foods, such as our doughnuts and white bread release glucose into the bloodstream quickly which can give us a sharp burst of energy. However, consuming high GI foods frequently can lead to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease in addition to feeling tired and experiencing multiple daily ‘slumps’. In contrast, low GI foods are slow releasing allowing our blood sugar to gradually increase, produce insulin and release energy at a more sustainable pace. One of way I tend to identify high GI foods (apart from the nutritional labelling) is thinking of what’s considered stodgy. Swapping high GI for low GI can be easy.
- Brown pasta
- Brown rice
- Wholegrain bread
- Sweet potato
- White pasta
- White bread
- Fizzy drinks
- Sports Drinks
- Some granolas
Sometimes we eat because we think we’re hungry, when in fact we’re actually thirsty. Not only does drinking 2+ litres of water per day help with overeating, but is has a multitude of health benefits. And the best thing about it is it’s free. If you’re someone who finds it difficult to drink water, add a slice of lemon/lime/orange or a handful of mint to help wash it down. Whether you’re driving or sitting at a desk, keep a 750ml/1 litre of water with you that you can refill. We tend to keep eating/drinking until it’s gone therefore it’s an easier way of making sure your daily water intake is met.
Getting the right coffee fix
Anyone else suffer from the mid-morning or afternoon slump? Again this can be related to eating the wrong foods but it can also be associated with your regular caffeine intake. Whether it’s a strong coffee you opt for or a milky latte, there’s no harm once it’s not overdone. What some people don’t realise though is the calorie and nutritional variance between our caffeine options.
With summer and better weather (hopefully!) approaching, there’s no better time to start getting active. For a lot of us, the issue is time and our lack of it. Being active doesn’t have to take hours out of your day though, it can be easily incorporated into your daily routine – here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Cycle to work
- Get off/on the bus 5 stops earlier/later
- Take 20-30 minutes on lunch to go for a walk/run. Make it more exciting by doing it in pairs/as a team
- Take up 5-a-side football one evening per week; combining exercise and networking/teambuilding/socialising
- Sign up for a charity event. More often than not this will require training for the weeks leading up to the event and it gives you a goal to work towards in addition to doing something good for the charity in question
Everything in moderation
Ever hear your mother preaching everything in moderation? Well mother does know best. There are so many ways we can improve our lifestyle but taking on too much at once is not a good idea because we can end up achieving nothing. The best thing to do is make one big and one small change per week e.g. a big change may be changing from High GI to Low GI foods and a small change would be taking the stairs 4 times per week. Once you’re satisfied you have achieved these, you can increase goals or set new ones but don’t forget to enjoy life and treat yourself along the way!
Karen Hanlon is an employee of KBC Bank and qualified personal trainer. KBC is presenting partner of WellFest 2018, tickets available at wellfest.ie