This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ocean Spray®. The opinions and text are all mine.
For years, I’ve gone through cycles gaining and losing 40 – 50 pounds. I have struggled with my weight since high school and the older I get, the harder it is to keep the numbers on the scale down. Multiple pregnancies didn’t help either! However, over the last five years, my weight has finally remained relatively constant and I’ve found ways to build healthy habits that have changed my life. I may go up or down 8-10 pounds, but that’s all! I’m now healthier, happier, and I have more self-confidence.
Developing healthy habits and maintaining an ideal weight is not easy. I always reverted back to where I started. Why? Well, what I discovered was once I hit my goals, the diet and other activities were over. I was giving up too much and doing it too fast! Eventually, I’d fall back to my old ways, gain back pounds I lost, and feel worse than ever about myself. Now that has all changed for me.
The key to developing healthy habits
Developing healthy habits and making lifestyle changes is an evolution. I know “lifestyle changes” sound so cliche. Well, I’m not going to tell you to run out and buy a gym membership. I don’t have one and if I did, I know I’d never use it! Developing healthy habits will be more successful if you begin with a series of small changes over time that result in cumulative improvement in your quality of life. The improvements will motivate you to make more changes. Keep in mind, by definition, a habit is a ritual. The key to building healthy habits is making small changes in different areas of your life that become your new norm. This will fuel motivation to continue making choices that are better for you.
7 healthy habits that can change your life
Now, the difficult piece! Where do you start? How do you change the unhealthy habits and develop new healthier ways of doing things? I’ve given a lot of thought to what I consider the most impactful changes I’ve made and I want to share them with you! Try these tips at a pace that works for you and your lifestyle. Once a change comes naturally for you, then consider introducing more. Making changes at the right pace for your unique lifestyle will make a huge difference.
Get on the scale
How I dread going to the doctor because they might weigh me! I can’t tell you how many times I turned around and asked not to be told what my weight was. Unfortunately, not knowing the number doesn’t mean the pounds aren’t piling on. If you don’t regularly weigh yourself, the numbers can easily spin out of control. You don’t have to weigh yourself every day, but at a minimum, check your weight once a week. If you notice a fluctuation of more than three pounds, carefully consider if your diet or activity level has changed and get things back in check.
Get enough iron in your diet
According to the Mayo Clinic, an iron deficiency can result in fatigue, unusual cravings, weakness, pale skin and other unpleasant symptoms that can leave you feeling depressed. I don’t know about you but if I look pale and feel tired, I’m more likely to reach for some comfort food, like ice cream! It’s important to check with your doctor if you think you have an iron deficiency or before starting supplements. You can reduce your risk of developing an iron deficiency by consuming iron rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, lean meats, seafood, beans, and dried fruits. The recommended daily iron intake for most women is approximately 18 mg. Iron also makes it easier to get through workouts and it boosts your energy.
Drink a glass of cranberry juice daily
Research shows that consuming 8 ounces of cranberry juice daily can be a nutritional alternative to daily low-dose antibiotics to reduce symptomatic UTIs. This is a healthy habit that benefits you and can contribute to reducing the world-wide problem of antibiotic resistance. How’s that for being healthy? Also, emerging research suggests cranberry juice may also promote stomach health and reduce cavity causing bacteria in your mouth.
A glass of Ocean Spray® 100% juice equals one cup of your daily fruit needs and 100% of your daily value of Vitamin C, with no added sugar. If you prefer a light version of juice, 8 ounces of Ocean Spray® Light Cranberry Juice Drink is equal to ½ cup of fruit. Cranberries are so beneficial to introduce into your diet and they are delicious! Switch it up by adding a splash of sparking water! Read more about cranberry research and health benefits on CranberryHealth.com.
Use a food journal app
I’m not suggesting you log everything you eat everyday. I can’t keep that up and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to. However, I suggest you do it for a few days. I learned I was consuming more calories, fat, and carbohydrates than I thought I was. A lot more! Whoops! These food tracking apps are usually free and you can install them on your mobile device. I use MyFitnessPal and it calculates my intake of protein, calories, carbs, and other aspects of what I eat. It’s also free! You might realize you are consuming more than you think. Continue to use the app until you learn what adjustments you need to make. It’s also a handy tool to have when you are dining out. I would snack on steamed soy beans in my favorite restaurant and one day I discovered there were 830 calories in one cup. Guess what I stopped doing?
Begin making small diet modifications
Now that you are weighing yourself and have been logging what you eat in an app, it’s time to think about making changes. A drastic dietary change is hard for most people to sustain so consider small changes based on where extra calories or unhealthy choices are coming from. Is your lunch knocking things out of balance? Consider bringing your lunch to work. Are you drinking 3 cans of soda a day? Start by cutting back to 2. Hold the cheese and mayo on a sandwich or skip the french fries and get a side of fruit. Try some reduced calorie salad dressings and light options of your favorite products. Make adjustments that you can stick with for the long run.
Get in extra steps
Whenever I was dieting, I couldn’t stand the suggestion of adding 30 minutes of cardio. Honestly? I hate it! I love weight-lifting but I hate the thought of cardio activities and getting sweaty! I’m sorry, but no thanks! I’m just not that person. So, I’m not going to continuously fail at trying to do the cardio thing. Instead, I make a lot of conscious choices throughout the day to get extra steps in and eventually I was doing this without having to think about it. A new habit? Yes, exactly! I park my car at the back of parking lots, use the stairs whenever possible, walk the dog every day (and she loves me for it), and use the restroom at work on the other side of the building. Our mailbox is at the end of our road, so I offer to get mail too. I may not be running 3 miles, but I’m getting in far more walking than I did before.
Bring your own lunch to work
I know sometimes there isn’t enough time to pack a lunch but start with a couple days a week. It will help you make better food choices and save money! Plus, you can pack a snack. Healthy wraps, soups, and leftovers are super easy to take along but there’s always the quick option of a frozen meal. I keep a few extras at work in case I forget to bring a lunch. I also bring healthy snacks and keep them in my desk. Fresh fruits and nuts with dried fruits are my favorites! Some fantastic options are: Fresh pears, a crisp apple, or an ice cold orange. On days you want to change it up, a handful of cashews or almonds and some dried fruit is very satisfying. Try some nuts with dried apricots or Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries. Trust me, Craisins® are exceptionally delicious!
See how we can build new healthy habits? Making small changes over time that you can keep up with and sustain will help you be more successful. The more successful you are, the better you will feel about yourself. I’ve found that to be extremely motivating to stick with my changes. Plus, overall I feel better and have more energy! In some upcoming posts, I’ll be sharing some great ideas for healthy, fast, and easy recipes. Of course, I’ll include healthy ingredients such as cranberries, whole grains, and vegetables rich in iron.
What changes will you make to begin building healthy habits? Leave me a comment below. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
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