Healthy Habits | Week 1: Groundwork
Week 1 is all about setting yourself up for success over the next 28 days. This week eases you into the challenge and doesn’t require any shopping or pre-planning.
Wellness is nothing more than small daily choices that lead up to lifelong, very big changes — that’s it. Anyone can achieve wellness whether that means you’re a stay at home mom or traveling salesman, maybe even juggling two jobs (and marathon training) just to get by. You don’t have to have a lot of money, time, or even kitchen skills because all of us have access to wellness if we choose to.
It simply starts with one choice after another.
To help you achieve wellness in 28 days, here is a checklist that if followed, will have you well on your way to a healthier and happier you in one month. These tips are simple, doable for everyone, affordable, and absolutely life-altering when all combined.
Sometimes we have trouble saying what we want because we’re scared we won’t achieve it, but people who share their goals are more likely to meet them. Instead of shouting them out loud, write them down in a letter to yourself to read down the road. Not only will it keep you accountable, but it may nudge you to go for a dream you may have put off when you eventually read it.
Writing down what you eat throughout the day can help you become more aware of what you’re eating, even if you don’t record calories and nutrition information. By keeping a food journal, dieters are more likely to lose unwanted weight. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, tracking what you eat occasionally can help identify weaknesses in your diet. It’s easy to overlook a handful of candy here and a cupcake there. I could easily say I don’t snack much on chips … until I wrote it down one day. Oops!
Meal planning is a vital part of eating a healthy diet. It lets you decide before you ever go to the grocery store what healthy meals your family is going to eat during a given week so that you can only purchase healthy foods and know that you will use them. If you’re switching to a healthier diet, meal planning is especially important to help you stick to it while you learn the ropes. It also helps you save money, stop stressing around mealtime and waste less food. Take 15 minutes to plan out your evening meals for the rest of the week. You don’t have to make a special shopping trip, you can look what you have in the house and build from there.
This might be the easiest task in the whole challenge! New research has confirmed the age-old diet trick: Smaller dishes (try 9-inch ones) will help with portion control and naturally reduce your calorie intake. Use that small salad plate or tiny cereal bowl for main meals. You can always go back for more if you’re hungry. *And don’t forget- fill up the majority of your plate with veggies.*
Processed foods tend to have a long shelf life, thanks to the added sugar, salt, and preservatives within. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’re often stripped or void of nutrients. As a result of their less-than-stellar nutritional status, they steal away an opportunity where you could be nourishing your body with whole foods–and may do some damage in its place.
Toss out THREE food products labeled “low-fat,” “reduced-fat” or “fat-free.” They often pack more salt, sugar or even calories than the full-fat versions. Get rid of ONE ‘tempting’ snack or item you think is unhealthy. If you want to go all-in, get rid of everything that isn’t good for you.
Organize your kitchen and pantry so that it’s easy to create healthy delicious meals. Do you need 75 pots and pans? Do you have glass storage containers to use later on for meal prep and storing grains? Are your shelves cluttered and causing you stress? Spring Clean that kitchen and keep only items you need, use or can see yourself using in the near future. *Don’t throw them away- pack up a box and take them to Goodwill, help someone else out by sharing your good fortune!*
My essentials– 2 sheet pans, 1 cast iron skillet, 2 sizes of non-stick skillets, 3 pots, 1 muffin tin, 2 meatloaf tins (always double up when going to the trouble of making meatloaf), 3 different sized glass pyrex dishes, 1 antique pie dish (it was my grandmothers), 1 wok, 1 griddle pan for indoor stove grilling, 1 blender, 1 food processor, 1 spiralizer, 1 mandolin, 1 crock pot, 1 Dutch oven, 1 set of glass mixing bowls, 1 salad spinner, 1 waffle maker (it’s a family tradition)… ok, you get the idea.
I bet it would take you less than a minute to come up with a list of 10 excuses not to cook dinner on any given night. But what if you had friends coming over, would you simply order a pizza or offer them cereal- no way! Chances are you’d be less likely to skip out on your culinary session if you knew you’d be letting someone else down. Recruit a friend to be your recipe buddy for the next 4 weeks so you can keep each other on track and share fun new recipe finds. #accountability
Nope, I’m not making you cook and package all your meals for the week. All you have to do is prepare ONE meal or ONE ingredient ahead of time (although you certainly can cook and pack for the next 5 days if you like). Roast some chicken breasts, make a salad in a mason jar for work tomorrow, freeze a bag with smoothie ingredients or cook up a big batch of quinoa so that its ready to go and use all week long. Prepping saves time, helps you stay on track with diet goals, assists with portion control, and saves time in the long run. Sunday afternoon is my laundry day so I’ll start a load and while that does its thing I get to work in the kitchen. By the time I’ve done 3 loads, I’ll have grains cooked, meat grilled, veggies chopped and that night’s dinner ready to go!