Welcome to Day 2 of our Self-Care miniseries! Yesterday we talked about the importance of getting rest, and how even going a day without proper sleep can affect even the smallest tasks that you face daily. Today we go a step further than that, and talk about something that takes a bit more effort, but has long-term major benefits: rejuvenating yourself, and more specifically, your body. Diet and exercise play a major role in keeping our bodies in tip-top shape. Although it is more convenient to go through the drive-thru line or skip the gym (or exercise altogether), there are easy ways to keep your diet balanced and your body happy.
You can never underestimate the great taste that comes with cooking a meal at home. To me, a home-cooked meal can top anything I ever buy at a restaurant. However, when you’re busy all the time and always out of the house, it can be hard ignore the convenience of pulling up to the nearest Taco Bell. So how do you gain a healthy relationship with home cooking when you’re always on the go? The first step is to get a couple of staples in your kitchen, a couple of apps on your mobile device, and you’ll be all set. Here’s a list of kitchen items I can’t live without (items are linked to Amazon for your convenience):
- Cast Iron Skillet: If you want a mean sear on a steak, this will get it done every time. Also good for roasting, seasoning, frying, baking, you name it.
- Baking Sheets: For those late nacho pan nights when the fat attack is real, a solid baking sheet will save the day. Great for baking cookies and meats.
- Flat Top Griddle: You don’t want to cook breakfast in three pans? Fine, cook it on one griddle. Saved many breakfasts in my house. Very easy to clean.
- Kitchen Utensil Set: The last thing you want to do is make pancakes and realize you have no spatula. Flipping a pancake with a fork is not fun, trust me.
- Cookware Set: This is the only place where I say that you get what you pay for. You can go cheaper, but it’s best to get a little more pricey when it comes to cookware. You want something that will cook your food well and last.
Worried about your abilities in the kitchen? A wise person once told me, “if you can read, you can cook.” There are tons of great apps like Allrecipes or ChefSteps, which I swear by. When I had first started cooking for myself, Allrecipes gave me some solid quick recipes to build on. My dinners take an average of about 30 minutes. That time is cut drastically if you prep before. They don’t have to be extravagant, either. The meat/veggie/starch model will save you every time. Just keep some handy spices and herbs in your pantry and you will be Chef Boyar-you in no time! Pro-tip: home cooking is also a easy and fun way to incorporate healthy eating into date nights, girls night out, or just discovering a new hobby!
One might argue that buying groceries is expensive. I can agree, but adding things like fruits and vegetables to your weekly grocery list will make it easier to curb your appetite throughout the week, especially items high in fiber like avocados, berries, and nuts. Snacking on those throughout the day will keep you up and going. You also will cut back on your dinners from the healthy snacks you eat throughout the day.
What else will help you shed pounds with little effort? Water. Water consumption is probably one of the most important points in this post. Hydration has a major effect on energy levels and brain function. Even a small amount of dehydration, up to 3%, can impair brain and body function. If you drink a lot of soda out of habit, replacing your soda alone with water cuts a significant amount of sugar from your diet, thus contributing to those slight inches off your waist. Water also clears your skin, increases kidney function, helps digestion, fights sickness, and even helps cure hangovers.
Some don’t like the taste of water or complain one may get tired of drinking something plain all the time. However, you can always infuse your water with fruits, or use spritzers to flavor them so you don’t get tired of the same thing. When I first started drinking water (and was trying to turn away from sodas) I’ve used pomegranate and sangria mixes in soda water and got hooked instantly. If you’re willing to try, you can always find a way to make those healthier choices.
The last thing you can do is get active. It’s easier said than done but if you take at least 30 minutes a couple of times out of the week to get your heart pumping it will pay off. Planet Fitness is known for cheaper monthly rates and a supportive environment, but you don’t need a membership. If your city has trails or parks, or if it’s bike friendly, there are easy, free options to get your 30 in whenever you’re ready. If you like to stay at home or you find you don’t have a lot of time to spare throughout the day, take some time in the mornings to do some yoga to start your day. It’s the little things that you do that pay off in the end.
Let’s take steps to rejuvenate our bodies this week. There are small things that you can do every day to keep your body in tip-top shape and prepared for whatever your life throws at you. Decisions like these are crucial in your young adult life. If you come up with a simple plan of action to purposely make smarter diet and exercise choices, you can set yourself up to perform at your peak, and because your body feels good, you will feel good too! What are you favorite ways to get those short workouts in? What are your favorite meals? Share them with us, and we’ll see you tomorrow for our next installment of our Self-Care miniseries!