Tuesday, March 27, 2012

10 Easy Changes to Improve Your Health

When people hear how much weight I’ve lost, they invariably ask me what I’ve done. Most people are hoping to hear that I started some specific diet or took some new pill. They want a magic pill.

There is no magic pill for weight-loss. It takes commitment and a willingness to change deeply ingrained habits. That doesn’t mean the changes are hard, however. Taken a few at a time, the changes can be relatively easy.


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1. Eat more fruit. That sounds simple enough, but it’s not enough to just decide to eat more fruit. Old habits die hard and new ones are hard to instill. Instead of just thinking generically about adding more fruit to your diet, think strategically – determine to eat a fruit with breakfast each day.

Adding blueberries, strawberries, or apples to your oatmeal or cereal is easy enough. Having a banana or orange with your toast doesn’t require a lot of thought or effort.

Once you’ve successfully added fruit to your breakfast – consistently – try adding fruit to your lunch. Fruit in a salad is delicious! I love apples, strawberries, grapes, and even blueberries.

2. Eat more veggies. A lot of people are much like their kids – they don’t like many vegetables. Our vegetables used to consist of white potatoes with the occasional steamed broccoli, salad, or canned green beans. I used to buy potatoes by the 10-pound bag. I rarely buy them anymore.

We’ve discovered that just about any vegetable is better roasted. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add garlic and salt, then, bake at 425 degrees until tender. We do this with with cauliflower, asparagus, squash, zucchini, carrots – most any vegetable. We prefer our green beans steamed, though.

Oh, and I almost never buy canned vegetables. Fresh tastes so much better.

3. Move more. When I first started losing weight, in addition to my regular exercise of 30-45 minutes walking on the treadmill, I made it a point to consciously move more. I would walk around the table to check my kids’ spelling words instead of asking them to hold their papers up to show me.

I would go up or down the stairs to get stuff myself instead of asking one of the kids to do it for me. If I felt like I’d been sitting still too long, I’d walk up and down the stairs in our home a few times.

Making a conscious effort to simply move more can add up to big results. An easy way to accomplish this is to purchase a pedometer, then, aim for at least 10,000 steps a day. Often just being more aware of movement results in a fairly effortless increase.

4. Drink more water. I keep three water bottles in my fridge at all times – well, two at all times. The third is with me wherever I am. I sip on water all day long. It keeps me hydrated (dehydration often mimics hunger) and, as crazy as it may sound, gives my mouth something to do – you know, as opposed to sipping sugary drinks or snacking.

5. Try new foods. I try to make it a point to try new foods on a regular basis. Maybe not every week, but at least every few weeks. We’ve learned to love things such as jicama, spaghetti squash, and avocado. The jury is still out on parsnips – the more thinly sliced the better, though.

6. Find new ways to prepare old favorites. Gina’s Skinny Taste site was a huge factor in my weight-loss success. She makes over normal foods that most people eat, making them healthier and lower in fat and calories. My whole family – including the kids – love her recipes! The kids used to always look skeptically at new foods and ask, “Is this healthy?”

They still often ask if something is healthy, but not with nearly as much trepidation because they’ve learned that healthy can taste good. Mostly now they’re just  curious.

7. Find some physical activities that you truly enjoy. I have learned to love running and biking. I never, ever dreamed I would enjoy running. I’m so glad that a friend encouraged me to stick with it once I decided to try, though, because now I love it!

It doesn’t really matter if it’s running, biking, swimming, Zumba, dancing, volleyball, softball – it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you enjoy it. You’ll stick with what you enjoy. If you’re just suffering through something in hopes of losing weight, you’re probably not going to do it long-term, then, you’ll be right back where you started.


8. Remember the 80/20 rule. So many people think changing your eating habits has to be all or nothing. I prefer to know that I can enjoy everything – in moderation. The 80/20 rule says that you make healthy food choices 80%, with reasonable indulgences 20% of the time.

9. Make simple swaps with healthier foods. I used to be a chip and dip junkie. That was my favorite snack – and lots of it. I read about jicama in a Biggest Loser book and decided to give it a try.

I love it!

These days, I would chose jicama (and/or red pepper) and hummus over chips and dips, even if the fat and calories were equal. Consider what among your favorites could be swapped for a healthier choice.

10. Log your food! I am so bad about falling off the food-logging wagon, but I always do so much better when I log what I’m eating. First of all, I’m more conscious of exactly how much I’m eating.

Second, there’s just a mental game that comes into play with logging food – if I know I’m going to have to write something down, I find myself wanting to make better food choices.

There you have it – ten relatively simple tips that can add up to big changes in your weight-loss efforts. Do you have any tips that you’d add?

This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday.

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Do or do not. There is no try.




  1. No, I don't have any tips to add. I do want to say thanks!! thanks!! thanks!!! so much for this post. I needed to read this today. I had fallen off the wagon, completely off, yesterday I started exercising again, and reading this today was just he extra boost I needed to keep going.

  2. Great tips! I am really bad at logging my food too.
    I would add eating smaller portions. That has been a big one for me and using a smaller plate at meals helps.

  3. Smaller portions, definitely. I should have included measuring your food, too.

  4. I'm so glad to hear that, Debbie! It makes me smile to know that I could enoucourage you.

  5. Although I really honestly do love fruit and veggies I also love junk as well. Finding new recipes to fool my brain has been the best thing for me. :)
    Remembering to move is also a biggie. :)

  6. Really wonderful post, Kris!  I love the changes that you've made in your life.  Now, if I could just manage to do that, it would be awesome.  ;) 

    I shared your post on Many Little Blessings' FB page.

  7. Thanks, Angie! (Psssst...you CAN do it!)

  8. Loreen-Sewfundesign.comMarch 29, 2012 at 9:07 AM

     Thanks -great article-been on a journey too for about 3 years. even learned to like (love) weight lifting. Getting stronger all the time!


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