“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

                                                                          James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits

Nearly half of Americans have put on extra pounds during the first year of the pandemic. This is according to a recent study by scientists at New Mexico University.

Carrying around extra weight can put you at risk for developing an assortment of chronic diseases. It can also adversely impact your sleep and mental health.

Most of us already know the things we should be doing to get to a healthier weight. But sometimes we just need a friendly nudge to recommit to good habits.

If you’re ready to increase your energy and waive goodbye to those extra pounds, now is the time to get started. The good news is you don’t have to change everything at once. You can make small changes each day. Here are 10 easy tips to help you reclaim your fitness – one step at a time.

1. Drink just two extra 8-ounce cups of water each day

Why this tip works: Nutrition professionals recommend that we drink at least 64 ounces of water each day. When we don’t drink enough water, we can become dehydrated.

If you aren’t used to drinking 8 glasses of water a day, it can be challenging to start this habit. This is especially true if you’re busy and don’t have time to run to the bathroom every 10 minutes.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start with two cups and gradually increase your water intake over time. Once your body gets used to your new habit, add more cups until you reach your daily water goal.

The benefits of drinking water include:

  • Transmit oxygen throughout your body.
  • Regulate your body temperature.
  • Promote healthy digestion.
  • Maintain your blood pressure.
  • Boost your performance during physical exercise.

2.Cut your snack portions in half.

Why this tip works: Mindless snacking between meals increases your daily caloric intake. Most snack foods contain a combination of sugar, fat, salt and oil. For many people, snacking can be a hard habit to break.

Instead of going cold turkey, gradually reduce the size of your snacks. Prepare your favorite snack in the portion size that you are used to eating. Remove half of the snack and put it away. Eat the remaining portion.

Repeat this step until you condition yourself to eat smaller portions of snacks or eliminate them entirely. This tip works because you’ll be able to enjoy some of your favorite snacks while reducing calories.

3. Prioritize your rest.

Why this tip works: Sleep deprivation can increase your blood sugar, stress and lead to insulin resistance. Being tired can also cause you to make unhealthy food choices throughout the day.

Surprising benefits of getting enough sleep include:

  • Happier Mood
  • Increased Productivity
  • Better Memory
  • Healthier Heart
  • Enhanced Athletic Performance
  • Weight Control

4. Get moving!

Why this tip works: Our bodies are designed for frequent motion. When we don’t move enough, our muscles become weaker and our bodies get flabbier. Walking offers the easiest way for most people to stay active. Even if it’s cold outside, you can walk around your house for 30 minutes. You can burn up to 200 extra calories during a 30-minute walk. If walking is not your favorite activity, find a suitable activity and do it every day.

Surprising benefits of exercise include:

  • Better Sleep
  • Happier Mood
  • Minimize Stress
  • Better Body Image
  • Increase Strength
  • Make Better Food Choices
  • Reduce Muscle Stiffness

5. Make healthier versions of your favorite foods.

Why this tip works: Eating healthier doesn’t mean that you have to give up all the foods you love. But it does mean that you will have to prepare them differently if you want to enjoy good health.

Swap out unhealthy ingredients in recipes for healthier ones. For instance, you can replace pasta spaghetti noodles with spiral zucchini noodles. Here are a few other replacement ideas.

  • Replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower.
  • Replace scrambled eggs and cheese with scrambled eggs with chives
  • Replace soda with unsweetened seltzer water.
  • Replace potato chips with kale chips.
  • Replace ice cream with a fruit and vegetable smoothie.

Being healthy is much more than looking good in your favorite outfit. It’s about taking control of your health so you can thrive in your personal life and career.

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