7 Steps Towards Creating Healthier Habits
Summer vacation is coming to an end, and the transitioning back into habits and everyday life is always a little bitter sweet for me. I love the freedom that vacation brings, being able to sleep till you naturally wake up, read books (that are not related to uni), be out in the sun, drink cocktails and eat delicious food and not having to plan your days to fit in with work assignments. But I always look forward to the crisp autumn air, wearing my fall coat with bare legs, and get back into my healthy routines. I’m a creature of habit, and whenever I’m on vacation things tend to slide far, far from what my normal life look like. I eat whatever I want, drink a few more glasses of wine than usual and don’t necessarily feel the need to work out a whole lot (vacation is about relaxing and letting go, right?). So when the summer comes to an end, I always crave a more regular schedule, working out and eating right. Creating healthy habits right from the beginning is super important for me, because it makes it a lot easier to ease back into a hectic schedule.
I have been thrown head first into two super heavy work weeks and was in no way prepared, so this litte site has been heavily neglected, and I thought this post would be a good way to say that I’m back on track, and I would love to share a few tips that me and my friends use to help us ease back into a healthy lifestyle post vacation.
No.1 Start Simple: Sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial and will determine how effective you can be during the day. Easing back into your regular sleeping habits after a vacation with late nights and even later mornings is not easy, and you might need to work a little on going to bed early. If you can’t sleep straight away the first few days, it helps a lot to turn off your phone, computer and tv, and try to read a book or magazine instead. I found that sleeping with the window open makes it a lot easier to fall asleep, and I wake up feeling fresh. Sometimes I have the problem of waking up every night, but after I started sleeping with the window open, I have been sleeping through the night. So wonderful! Find out what works for you!
No.2 Do your grocery shopping once a week
Now, this takes a little preparation. Every Sunday, I make a list of what I would like to eat for the week ahead, and make sure that I buy everything I need so I don’t have to waste time during the week running to the store or ending up eating something that I shouldn’t because I’m too tired/hungry/hangry to figure out what to eat for dinner or lunch. I want to fuel my body with what it needs to work hard, and still have energy for Crossfit after a really long, exhausting day. I use Pinterest a lot to find recipes and inspiration for delicious and heathy recipes.
No.3 Prepare for sugar cravings
Vacation for me means more alcohol, more sugar and less boundaries. So when times comes to get back to my routines I usually suffer from quite severe cravings. Knowing how to avoid ending up stuffing your face with chocolate will not only make you healthier, but it will also stabilize your mood. Sugar is a little devil that makes you tired, gives you mood swings and the list goes on and on, and personally I can feel a huge difference from when I have one indulgence day a week, and when I give into my cravings throughout the week. So, I make fruit popsicles like the peach melba or grapefruit popsicle, and keep them in my freezer, or I make date balls with cocoa. And at around 40 calories each, packed with healthy stuff, they are far better than any chocolate bar.
No.4 Carry a snack in your bag
I get hangry quite easily, so having a snack on hand is the most important thing I can do for myself to keep from buying chocolate when I need to get some energy. The date balls are perfect for this. They don’t need to be in the fridge, so you can bring a couple with you in the morning and eat them when you need a little kick of something sweet that will also keep you from being hungry for at least another hour.
No.5 Keep cold infused water at hand
Growing up in the woods of Norway I have been spoiled with fresh, ice cold, delicious, soft water and after moving to Denmark I have had a really hard time getting used to the water. It doesn’t taste good. At all. And to be honest, I really don’t like to drink it even when I’m super thirsty. So finding a way around the taste of the danish water was crucial for me, because water is important, and I need to learn how to drink it. Putting your water in the fridge makes sure it’s deliciously cold at all times, and putting wonderful things into the water to flavor it also works wonders. Some of my favourite combinations are lemon + mint, raspberries + peach and cucumber + lime. You can do the same with the bottle you bring with you during the day, I promise it will make you want to drink more water!
No.6 Create good fitness habits
Working out has never been a struggle for me. I started doing martial arts at quite a young age, and because I was also competing, I always associated working out with something positive. It was about improving my skills, getting ready for the next competition, and demonstrating my dedication to my trainer. It was a place to grow stronger, both mentally and physically, and I still feel that way. I do crossfit a couple of times a week, go to mysore ashtanga classes and run. Not because I feel like I have to, but because it makes me feel amazing. It is exhausting, but the impact it has on your life is massive. Better sleep, more energy, better posture and stamina + it’s easier to eat healthy when you need to fuel your body for exercise, because when you work out you can feel the impact your diet has on your body. You should still feel strong when you are getting tired and push to your limit in your workout, not weak and dizzy. Listen to your body, feed it right, and relax. Do not ever overlook small injuries, it’s better to skip a workout than to injure yourself for real. And if you are not tempted to work out and think that it’s super hard, try focusing on all the small changes you can feel, even in the beginning of your journey. It’s worth a little struggle!
No.7 Make time for relaxation
Being healthy applies to your mind as well, and creating healthy habits for your body also includes avoiding stress. Take some extra time in the morning so you don’t have to hurry, don’t eat at your desk, but go for a walk or talk to your colleagues, and make time in the evening for seeing friends, watching series, reading a book or going for a long run. I meditate with Headspace for 10 minutes in the morning, plan my day so I know what to focus on, have an hour lunch break (the luxury of working from home), and make sure I don’t work later than 8 in the evening, so I can have some much needed time off before going to bed, where I usually read a little before drifting off. For me, the extra time in the morning where I plan my day, do a short meditation and have time to eat my breakfast without rushing is really important to avoid getting stressed. Find out how you work best, and treat your body well.
These are all small tweaks you can introduce, and choosing a couple of good things to do for yourself is better than not doing anything. Everyone works differently, and this is just my way of connecting my body and mind to become my most productive and happy self. I want to feel strong and healthy, while still being able to eat a little something naught on the weekends and have wine and cocktails and delicious not so healthy foods. It’s all about creating a healthy foundation, and to really enjoy the times you decide to indulge on something deliciously naughty. I’m far from perfect and I’m guessing you are too, and making an honest effort is the most important thing, not perfection.