Summer is here – new habits and strategies

Hartenbos Beach

Hartenbos Beach – South Africa

Summer has reached us here in Cape Town (this weekend feels right back like winter again however). With the warmer weather and better moods one is naturally inclined to want to bring about a few changes or healthier habits. This post is not my usual type, but I enjoyed the concept and thought I would share, that way it is all typed out and I can keep myself accountable. Perhaps see it as a somewhat early New Years resolution post.

I must start off by saying I am not a doctor or adviser of any kind. I am writing about what I think or believe and found has or will work for me. So don’t hold me accountable!  I am not a vegan, vegetarian, paleo eater or banter. Obviously the closer food is to its natural state the healthier it is. I believe to eat balanced, according to how I feel about food and my body reacts to it. I always find my body tells me quickly if I have been eating wrong. So no, I will not cut out bread or pastas completely. It will however not be my number one choice for a healthy meal. Just so that you can understand my reasoning, you do not have to agree even if you have all the resources to state it. As I have said, this is what works for me. Please do not copy me. Now that that is out of the way I can continue.

The other day I was sitting and thinking about what I can change in my daily routine to move myself along a path of being a bit healthier or maybe just feeling a bit less guilty. I also read an article (I cannot remember where there are several out there) stating that you need to set up rules for yourself or have a backup plan before you get yourself into a situation, like what if I crave cake? Eat an apple or drink water for instance. I came up with a short list (for now at least), please do not take offense that I bribe myself with a glass of wine or so, to me it is something I enjoy with my husband, but I know it does not really help with weight loss, so I use it as a bargaining tool. Hopefully you will have something healthier. Also note if I say “you” below I mean “me” I am speaking to myself.

My list and strategies to stick to:

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast. Doing so you will get your metabolism going. You will also have fewer cravings for the wrong foods. You will have more consistent energy.
  2. Eat ONLY healthy snacks. I tend to go for more delicious snacks when they are available, so only take healthy snacks with you and do not go buy anything else, eat what you have packed. Such as fruit, nuts, berries, veggies etc.
  3. Eat a snack in the late afternoon before leaving work for home. This way you will not want to eat every possible thing you lay your eyes on when arriving home. The same must go when we have work socials where there are a lot of chips, crackers and cheese, eat a healthy snack before you go so you can ‘stop’ yourself with the snacks.
  4. Combat cravings. If you crave something deliciously unhealthy, first eat a healthy snack to get rid of the craving and fill the gap (hopefully). Eat an apple, nuts, yogurt, a raw carrot, drink water or freshly pressed orange juice.
  5. Eat healthy lunch and dinner meals. Get your mind to be more focused on this when you go out to buy groceries and also when preparing your meals. It really helps to plan a menu for the week and then to stick to it.
  6. Wine, drink as little as possible (it makes me gain weight). So try to drink slowly to stay with half a glass or a glass and prevent refills.
  7. Coffee, I am fine with drinking coffee and usually only drink one or two cups a day (of good coffee) if I end up craving hot chocolate or warm milk with honey… I tell myself drink Rooibos Tea or water, see whether you still crave it after that, most likely not.
  8. Sauces, try to eat less sauce with meals (we don’t really eat too many) or replace a creamy sauce with a tomato based sauce when possible, and a homemade one, not those filled with sugar.
  9. Pasta/bread – limit these and try to serve smaller portions. Replace with quinoa when possible. (we don’t eat too much of these, but pasta we can try cut back on)
  10. When at a coffee shop – STAY AWAY FROM THE CAKE! Eat something healthy like a fruit before you go. Or argue with yourself (in your head) that you may have a second cup of plain coffee (not the milkiest sweetest one) instead of cake. If you HAVE to give in at least try and share a piece instead of eating a whole one. It is always over-sized and you always feel terrible right after you have finished it. It also messes up the rest of your day’s meals as everything feels too much after that and you end up eating more snack type food that can often be unhealthy.
  11. Drink more water. Take a water bottle with you to work or a big glass. Tell yourself you must drink one or two glasses at least before lunch in order to be ‘allowed’ to eat lunch. The same goes for dinner, one or two more after lunch. Make it manageable, if you never drink water start with one glass, then work your quantity up.
  12. Gym and exercise. To go cycling is much easier for me than going to the gym. And I need to reach my minimum gym visits a month in order to not lose my gym membership (at a discounted price). So again, argue with yourself and work out a deal. Perhaps saying three gym visits allows for something specific over the weekend. Add gym visits over the weekend and it allows for something specific during the week. If you really want to drink, eat or do that specific thing it will help to force yourself to go to the gym. Obviously you are your own boss and can still go even if skipping, but try to be strict, you’re only helping yourself.

I hope you agree with me that it seems this is a good way to build better habits or routines for yourself, by having a plan ready when necessary. I know some of the examples may be bizarre, but the bottom-line is choose goals for yourself and have thought out strategies ready to help yourself along the way when you feel like failing or giving in.