Changing your lifestyle takes work, but it doesn't have to feel impossible. Even small adjustments can make a big impact on your year. While I definitely encourage you to go vegan in 2017, it doesn't have to happen overnight. Here are 12 simple tips to begin aligning your body, mind and soul with your desires for health.
1. Make the produce section of your grocery list the longest.
Meal planning and grocery lists haven't just saved me time, but made me more conscious of what I'm buying. My goal each week is to make sure the list of fruits and vegetables is longer than the rest of my list. If the bulk of what you're buying is healthy, you'll have less chances for temptation--and it's also super motivating to see how well you're nourishing your body from the list, especially when the produce section is really diverse.
2. Replace snacks between meals with fresh fruit or fresh veggies.
Snacking is considered a weakness, but it can be a strength! If your body is telling you that you're hungry, treat it well--feed it with nature's most perfect foods. An apple, bowl of berries, carrot sticks, or snap peas offer flavor, hydration and crunch or texture. My personal favorite? Bell peppers. Cut them in strips or just bite right in!
3. Try out #meatlessmonday.
This is a great way to transition to a more plant-based diet without getting overwhelmed at first. There's a huge community of support online to provide inspiration and motivation for your meatless meals, so explore the hashtag to see what you're missing out on.
4. Switch out cow's milk for plant milk.
The majority of the population is lactose intolerant for a good reason--cow's milk is only for baby cows, just like mother's milk is only for human babies. This switch can help clear acne, improve acid reflux, and protect you from osteoporosis. There's an amazing variety of flavors when it comes to plant milks: almond, rice, coconut, hemp, cashew, macadamia, oat, soy, hazelnut; plus, you can easily make them at home for a cheaper option!
5. Always carry a reusable water bottle.
Most of us are dehydrated, but this is an easy fix. No matter where you go, there's usually free access to water, and having a bottle around will remind you to keep drinking. Staying hydrated will help you feel more awake, stave off food cravings, brighten your skin and help improve your body's daily functions.
6. Meditate for ten minutes each day.
How often do you sit in complete silence? I don't know about you, but I work with music on, work out to music or Netflix, cook with music or Netflix, talk to people throughout the day, watch videos . . . you get the idea. Allowing time for you to quiet your mind and embrace the present is incredible stress relief. It can improve your mood, help with depression and gives you a chance to know yourself deeper. Take a walk by yourself without the earbuds, or sit on the couch, close your eyes and just breathe. There's no wrong way to meditate!
7. Trade coffee for green tea.
Coffee in moderation can be good for our bodies, but the majority of coffee drinkers are actually addicted to the caffeine, which can cause burnout, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and raise blood pressure. Try trading your coffee for green tea or matcha a few times a week to give your body a rest and break your addiction. Green tea is also full of antioxidants, making it a healthy alternative, and although it has caffeine, it's a naturally low level.
8. Take a short walk each hour.
In our modern world, we are pretty sedentary creatures. If I don't force myself to walk around throughout the day, I can get leg and back cramps, lose track of time, and my eyes get tired of the computer screen. By the end of the day, I'm somehow exhausted, even though I've done very little physical activity. Moving every hour actually improves our energy levels, our focus and our mood--so even if it's only a few hundred steps, walk around your office, home or neighborhood for several minutes to get the creative juices flowing again.
9. Stay focused by practicing Kaizen.
I recently learned about the Japanese concept of Kaizen, which is a practice where you do a specific task every day at the same time for just 1 minute. Super simple, right? Looking at my planner each day, I can start to feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing list. This philosophy helps me take things one step at a time without losing interest or motivation. Repetition is a great way to develop a healthy habit!
10. Keep a gratitude journal.
We often rush through our days so quickly, we forget about the little moments that make it all worth it. Every evening (or the next morning, if you're like me), write down three things you're grateful for in that day. They can be as simple as the meal you ate or the color of the sky--not only will this help you reflect on the simple yet rich treasures you experience, it will allow you to stay present and develop a more compassionate, thoughtful view on life. No complaining, just acceptance.
11. Skip the alcohol.
Many of us use alcohol as stress relief, a way to have fun. While it's definitely important to let loose sometimes, this practice can quickly become a crutch instead of a reward. Alcohol can cause weight gain, lead to depression and addiction, and increases our likelihood of heart and liver disease, particularly breast cancer for women--even moderate drinking. Plus, it causes dehydration. Before having a drink, ask yourself if you really need it to have a good time, and instead, treat your body to something more nourishing and hydrating.
12. Make your plate colorful.
Not only is it fun to see color on your plate, it's a sign of proper nutrition! Fruits and vegetables are highly pigmented for a reason--it's nature shouting at us that these foods are good to eat. A colorful plate signifies diversity of nutrients, fresh ingredients, and a closer connection and appreciation to our world. If your plate is looking rather beige and bland, spice it up with your favorite fruits and veggies. Your body and mind will feel better and look better--and you'll be reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, chronic illness, and obesity.
I hope these 12 tips help you tackle 2017 with spirit! Keep it simple, keep it fun, and stay focused on your journey to health. If you're interested in having someone there to support you along the way, please email me.